My plans for today was go out with Jon and continue on hunting migrants in and around the lower Little Miami River valley as it nears the Ohio River. We were to meet at 7:15 and have a nice morning of birding. That was until I looked on one of the Facebook pages where birders report rarities in Ohio. With the effects of Irma still being felt all over the southeastern seaboard, reports of rare bird sightings are popping up everywhere.
States reporting rarities include Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some of the great birds being seen are Black-capped Petrel, Great Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater, White-tailed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Sooty & Bridled Terns, Brown Noddy and Band-tailed Storm Petrel. And this list might be incomplete as to states and species reports aren’t finally in. Now we can include Ohio.
While I was out last evening celebrating with my wife on her birthday with some friends, a report of a Sooty Tern at a gravel quarry in Dover Ohio hit me pretty hard. My first thought was I need this bird for my life list, and where is Dover Ohio. 3 hours away when I finally checked my map app on my phone.
Now’s the question as to what to do. To chase or not. I made my final decision early this morning was I texted Jon to ask him if he wanted to join me. His reply was he couldn’t be gone all day, so off I went.
It was a beautiful late summer morning with light traffic as I made my way towards Columbus where I would pick up I-70 towards Zanesville. From there I turned north on I-77 which takes you finally to Cleveland. With one pit along the way it took just over 3 hours and my stupid GPS had me getting off at the wrong exit. It was a good thing I checked Google map before I left.
The gravel quarry was less than a mile from the exit, and when I turned on the road where birders were saying was the best place to park and watch the bird, there were plenty of cars and people with scopes out.
Always a good sign. An older man approached as he was leaving and said it’s just sitting there on a old tire and easy to find.
The bird was so far away that I had to use the digital zoom just to be able to get a half way decent photo. The next photo is my camera at maximum optical zoom. This will give you a good idea how far away the bird was.
So from a photographic it’s a difficult shot. But really it’s not the point of the chase. Granted when I logged the sighting into eBird a photo is really important for verifying the report, it was just total excitement for me. And to top it off this is my first life bird for 2017. It’s kind of a let down after 2 years of great birding and impressive numbers of new birds, but I’ll take it. Who knows when I’ll ever get to visit the Dry Tortugas where the Sooty Tern can easily be seen.