Tag Archives: Black Swamp Bird Observatory

Your Birding Dollars

As we all feel the pinch of a struggling economy our precious money can be difficult to pry out of our hot little hands. And when it comes to the money we spend on our favorite pastime most birders spend most of our disposable cash of gas. Followed in a close second by optics. So when it came time to make a decision on whether to join a birding related organization the decision has been pretty simple for the past few years. The answer has always been, maybe later when our finances are in better shape (especially with 2 in college).

So which organization to join, which there are several out there willing to separate you from you money? We have the “American Birding Association“, “The American Ornithologists’ Union“, and “The Audubon Society” on a National level, to name a few. Then you have some of the local type organizations which need everyone’s support such as “Black Swamp Bird Observatory” the “Cincinnati Bird Club“, and the “Kentucky Ornithological Society“. However the one I choose was “The Ohio Ornithological Society“.

There’s a couple of reasons why, and the one that convinced me was the network of birders that covers the state, whether it’s through their updates on social media sites like “Birding Ohio” on Facebook, or it’s sponsored field trips, or it’s Annual Conference.

Even though the yearly dues won’t break the bank, I feel I made the right decision in choosing the O.O.S.  After a year we’ll re-evaluate how it went and whether I renew or not. I’m hoping for a good experience. So if you’re thinking about joining a birding organization, do a little homework and see what fits for you and your budget. Just like buying a new pair of bins.

“On The Road” Lake Erie Pelagic Tour

We’re “On The Road” again, and this time we’re off to Cleveland for “The Sweet Water Sea, Lake Erie Pelagics”. This tour is sponsored by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory at Oak Harbor, Ohio. When I read about this trip on B.S.B.O. website, I think I was the first person to sign up. That seems like ages ago.

So now it’s time to prepare for this trip. And I’m not just driving up and back on the same day. Kathy suggested that I leave on Friday, and spend the night on the road, so I won’t feel so rushed on Saturday. So on Friday after I leave work, it’s off to Mansfield Ohio for the night. Believe you me it’s not the most palatial hotel in the world, but it will have to do. As a matter of fact, with a strip club right down the road, you might say this hotel might be rated as “seedy”. I’m afraid to ask if it has hourly rates. However it is an Econolodge, so I’m sure it will be fine.

The drive from my house to Columbus was rather uneventful. However, from Columbus to Mansfield, is where all sanity ceased to exist. To put it into simple terms, it was a madhouse. So what should have been a relatively short drive, took way too long. I arrived into my room at 7:30, put on some soft clothes, took 2 Tylenol PM’s, and a few swallows of Fra Fillippo, and it was lights out at 9:00.

I was a little nervous on this last leg of my journey. I had, what I thought were pretty good directions, but never been to Cleveland before, getting lost was not an option. I hate getting lost. So before I left town I went to Google Map and did a street view of the route after I left the highway. It went perfect. I was able to identify landmarks, and made it to my destination without a single problem. As I pulled into the parking lot I was greeted with this view.

The white building is where we left from. Meet up with birding buddy John Marvin and his father who spent the night in Cleveland before the trip. Both are very knowledgeable birders, and great to be with.

Another view of the city.

If you look real close, the top of our boat is visible in the lower left corner.

With a maximum of 50 people going, you can see it was rather cramped on the dock. In the background you can see a HUGH great lakes freighter navigating the Cuyahoga River.

As this freighter was making this turn you can see how many gulls it was kicking up in it’s wake. The gull population here is phenomenal.

This is like a Hitchcock movie.

Once we set sail, we  started looking for anything along the river. Someone did catch a Peregrine Falcon making it’s rounds. I did see a Sharp-shinned Hawk as we cruised the river. A few geese and Mallards were all we saw before we exited the river.

A look back at the city before we entered Lake Erie.

You can tell by this picture how calm the water was. It was pretty much like this the whole trip.

As you can tell, space was at a premium. Getting on board early guaranteed you a seat. But who sits. I was moving from left to right looking for birds the whole trip.

We made our way out to the pumping crib.

They started throwing bread and popcorn off the fantail to attract the gulls and anything else that might be in the vicinity.

It’s during this time of chuming for birds that we got our hit on a Pomarine Jaeger.

After we left the open waters of Lake Erie, we made our way to some breakwaters that run parallel to the coast.

Gulls followed us everywhere.

This is the area that the Snow Buntings were sighted. We’re running along the shore where an airport is located.

You can see the landing lights of the airport as we clear the corner.

Now here’s something you don’t see everyday. A U.S. World War II. era submarine. The Japanese flags on the side of the conning tower indicates that it served in the Pacific theater.

View of the city on our return trip to the dock.

A look back at the Cuyahoga River as we approach the dock.

So did I have a good time? Yes I did. Would I go back? Yes I would. Even though I did get 4 new birds for my life list, I was still disappointed in the lack of water birds. Having great weather conditions has a lot to do with the lack of water birds. The crappier the weather, the better the birding. So hopefully the weather will be better from a birding point of view for next year. So here is the list of birds for the trip.

  1. Ring-billed Gull
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull
  3. Greater Black Backed Gull-Lifer
  4. Herring Gull
  5. Northern Harrier
  6. American Kestrel
  7. Bald Eagle
  8. Red-tailed Hawk
  9. Rough-legged Hawk (Dark Phase)
  10. Cooper’s Hawk
  11. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  12. Common Crow
  13. Pigeon
  14. Mourning Dove
  15. Starling
  16. American Robin
  17. Northern Cardinal
  18. Northern Mockingbird
  19. House Sparrow
  20. Canada Goose
  21. Mallard
  22. Black Scoter-Lifer
  23. Common Loon
  24. Red-breasted Merganser
  25. Horned Grebe
  26. Great Blue heron
  27. Pomarine Jaeger-Lifer
  28. Snow Bunting-Lifer
  29. American Coot