Monday, November 16, 2009

Lake Erie Pelagic-"I'm on a Boat!"

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to participate in a pelagic trip on Lake Erie. A pelagic trip is when you venture out on the open water. The trip, sponsored by Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Discovery Tours of Cleveland, left from Cleveland, OH on the HOLIDAY with around 50 aboard. It was a wonderful time with friends and many great birds. I was very pleased to get a lifer-Purple Sandpiper! Other great finds were Horned Grebe, White-winged Scoter, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Pomerine Jaeger, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Snow Buntings.

Searching the horizon for rarities are left to right Ben Warner, Michelle Leighty and Andy Jones.

The ever-moving cacophony of gulls took on a life of its own. I could still hear and see them that night in my sleep! Some called these birds seagulls, which is a misnomer. These are more appropriately called lake gulls or bay gulls. (Get it? Bagels? Sorry... that was bad.)

So why was this paparazzi of gulls following the boat? Were there celebrities on board? Not exactly, but quite a few of the Ohio Young Birders were attracting them by chumming. Chumming is when you throw out treats like bread, popcorn or fish for the birds. Unfortunately, fish tend to sink and leave an undesirable smell that deters the ladies... :)

There were a few birding celebrities on board. The young man in the green hat is Malkolm Boothroyd. Malkolm was the keynote speaker for the Ohio Young Birders Club's annual conference Saturday. He and his parents cycled 13,000 miles to raise over $25,000 for bird conservation. Utterly amazing! There is another celebrity in this shot, as well. Who is that dude in the gray sweatshirt? Is that Chuck Norris?

None other than Kenn Kaufman! I think Kenn is keying in on a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull in this shot. The bird was spotted at 6 o'clock, and since it was only two in the afternoon, we were going to have to wait a while to see that one. (A little birding humor and in my defense, that was Kenn's joke.)
Kenn's better half, Kimberly, was on board, as well. Kim is the Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory. She is spotted here chatting with Kathy McDonald. Kim just won the prestigious Naturalist of the Year Award from Toledo Naturalist' Association. The award was presented to her Saturday evening. With all of her projects and all the great things she does with young birders, she is very deserving. Congrats!

My Nerodio buddy, Ben Warner was also on board. A self-proclaimed chum lord, Ben, demonstrates his special chumming technique. You drizzle the popcorn out, bit by bit. Make them wait for it...

Very little slipped past this birding power trio who were stationed at the front of the boat. Left to right is Dan Sanders, Jim McCormac and John Pogacnik. I got on every bird since these three were close by.

We had a bit of a detour at the end of our voyage. The bridge was down and could not be raised to allow us to pass. But happily, since the docking plans were altered, we were treated to excellent views of a Merlin. (The bird, not the wizard :) )

There were speculations floating about as to what happened with the bridge. Some said it was old and rusty, in dire need of repair. But some believed the bridge mishap was due to a jinx. Sometimes trouble just follows people about, they can't help it. It just happens. They are present at every disaster. Just like poor Schleprock. There were some fingers pointing to a certain jinx that was present on our boat Sunday. But since he has gone into protective custody, he will remain unnamed. :)

There will be another pelagic scheduled for sometime in December or January, so stay tuned!

1 comment:

Jana said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks for the report and photos of your very interesting trip. I like the photo of the swarming gulls. They almost look translucent.