July 20, 2013 - My day of birding started early. Normally for me that would mean stumbling out of bed around 9:00 AM and heading to a near...

ON LOCATION - Wendy Park - Cleveland, OH (and More!)

July 20, 2013 -

My day of birding started early. Normally for me that would mean stumbling out of bed around 9:00 AM and heading to a nearby hotspot to bird for a couple of hours. Not this time. 3:30 AM was the plan.

I guess you could say my day started the day before. Fridays are supposed to be an easy day at work, so my wife and I scheduled a nap for 4:00 PM so we'd be rested up for a cookout at the neighbor's house later that night. It didn't work out - Friday was a crazy late day at work for both of us, so we skipped the nap and headed up the hill for drinks and pork chops (Yum!). I figured we would just head home around 10:00 PM and get some sleep. As is usually the case at the neighbor's, the cookout party ran late into the night. Finally made it home at 1:30. At this point, if I went to sleep, I wouldn't make it out the door until noon. I decided to just stay up and go!

At 3:30 I hopped in my car and headed north to bird Cleveland and other areas along the way. My first stop was at Campbell Memorial Park in Columbus (well, actually my first stop was at the gas station to buy 2 Mt. Dews, 2 5-Hour Energies, and a BIG cup of coffee). Nothing to report, it was only 4:45 AM and I could only make it up the mound with the help of a flashlight. Moving on...

<Insert lots of places that it was still too dark or too rainy to see anything here>

Breakwall near Wendy Park
...Finally arrived at Wendy Park on Whiskey Island at 9:00 AM and immediately started the search for the Brown Pelican that had been reported in the area for a couple of weeks. Because I had never been in the area before I did not know where to start looking.

If you look to the left as you start up the entrance road there is a marina and a pair of breakwalls. Since it was the first time I had seen the water that day, I headed into the parking lot. I got distracted by some gulls and sparrows and then parked the car close to the water. I gathered up my gear and started to get out of the car. Just as I closed the car door it started to rain.

Brown Pelican on the breakwall
I threw on a raincoat and put some plastic bags over my camera. I turned toward the lake and the Brown Pelican (#203) was sitting there on the breakwall. I quickly fired off a shot (at left) just in case it decided to fly off before I could get set up.

I sent a message out to the Miami University Ohio Bird Listserve letting everyone know that the Pelican had been located. I also called Glen Crippen, a birder from southeast Ohio, who I knew was coming to the area to see the Pelican.

Time to get a better shot. I noticed a few fishermen out on the breakwall and figured if they could go out there, so could I. It was very windy and overcast so I took my tripod along to help sturdy the camera. In an attempt to protect my binoculars I put them in my jacket pocket instead of around my neck - this would later come back to bite me on the butt - and headed toward the breakwall.

View of Lake Erie where the Brown Pelican was hanging out

In the photo above you can see part of the walkway that heads out into the lake. I must admit I was a little nervous walking out there with a big lens and tripod. Once out there the Pelican flew off before I could shoot. Dejected, I started looking around the lake. I spotted Double-Crested Cormorants, a lot of Ring-Billed Gulls, and a Green Heron.

As quickly as it left, the Pelican returned and landed about as close as it could to the walkway.

Brown Pelican (#203)

It was such an amazing sight. I stood there watching him dive into the water for fish and sit back on the breakwall. Then watched him fly over to where the Cormorants were hanging out. They seemed to not get along very well, so he flew back over to the breakwall. It was time to go elsewhere so I headed back to the car. When I got there I bent over to unlock the door and my binoculars fell out of my pocket and landed on the pavement. Apparently something got jammed up as they no longer work properly. When you look through them you see a double image of whatever you are looking at. Fortunately Eagle Optics has a great warranty, and I should be able to get them repaired or replaced!

Map of the marina near Wendy Park
For those wondering where this is located, I have included a map - it probably doesn't help much unless you know the area, but just Google "Edgewater Park" and this is right next to it.

On to Wendy Park. The road to Wendy Park, Whiskey Island Drive, is lined with trees on both sides and provides an opportunity to see birds on the way to the park. This is where I saw my only Baltimore Oriole of the day.

At Wendy Park I did not see very many birds. A lot of Killdeer, various Swallows, and far too many European Starlings to count. The highlight was a flyover by the area's Peregrine Falcon (#202). I must admit, though, I was very lazy at Wendy Park. I never even got out of my car. I am hoping to make another trip to the area soon during the shorebird migration and plan to explore Wendy Park more thoroughly.

Ring-Billed Gull
I drove back to the marina, took at last look at the Pelican and shot a couple more photos. There were gulls everywhere. In the parking lot, on the breakwall, on the buildings, and all along the poles on the boat piers.

They mingled with a mixed flock of Canada Geese and (oddly) House Sparrows. Though these birds are very common, I still get excited when I see them. Not so much because they are Ring-Billed Gulls, but because there may be different types of gulls hanging around with them.

There were reports of a Glaucous Gull in the area, but Glen and I searched for almost half an hour and could not find it. This may warrant another trip to the area. There are just so many gulls that it would be hard for a person that isn't very familiar with gulls to pick it out from the Ring-Billed and Herring Gulls, like me. I think it might be time to buy a scope!

Belted Kingfisher
I also got a quick shot of a Belted Kingfisher that was hanging around the docks. They are one of my favorite birds. My wife helped me find my first one by their call, which she described as sounding like a rattlesnake.

I could've hung out at the marina all day, but it was time to move on. I decided to head over to the Burke Lakefront Airport to look for shorebirds. It was a bust. A lot of people going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the road was too busy to look for birds. I never really found a place that looked promising. If you have any additional information about this spot I would love to hear about it.

Red-Tailed Hawk
Lorain, OH became my next destination. A member of the listserve, Patty McKelvey, read that I was going to the area and recommended that I visit Sandy Ridge Reservation. I knew I wanted to go to the Lorain Impoundment, also, so Lorain seemed like the right place to go.

I went to Sandy Ridge first. Not knowing the area, I later discovered that I should have visited it after the impoundment as I drove down Rt. 57 on my way home.

Sandy Ridge Reservation seems like a place you could spend a whole day birding at. There is a marsh, a prairie, and some big woods.

The only problem were the flies. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know about the bug bites I had recently. They were so bad that my wife has forbidden me to visit one of my favorite spots until winter (Oakes Quarry in Fairborn, OH). So, when I got out of the car at Shady Ridge I sprayed my Off - Deep Woods Sportsmen bug spray all over in a heavy coating and started down the trail only to be immediately attacked by some sort of biting fly. They looked like regular house flies, but with teeth! How do the joggers do it? I mean, really? I go out in jeans and a long sleeve shot and get eaten alive while the joggers have on a sports bra and biker shorts and seem just fine.

Green Heron
Being the wuss that I am, I got back in my car and drove over to the Wetland Center and walked around the small pond next to it. There were some red-eared slider turtles and a couple of Green Herons. I decided to move on... (when I got home I looked at the Shady Ridge website - really should have just toughed it out! Looks like a great place!)

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story. I'll be visiting Lorain Impoundment, Spencer Lake, and Campbell Memorial Park. (I promise it will be shorter than this one!)

Barn Swallows - Edgewater Park - Cleveland, OH

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