For the past week, Oberlin Reservoir in Lorain County has been the place to be for gulls. This upground reservoir, which somewhat resembles a giant square bathtub, has always had a track record of attracting odd birds, in part perhaps because it is within ten miles of Lake Erie. From the perspective of a Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the reservoir could easily be seen from the lake.
And apparently gulls en masse have decided to bail from the open waters of Erie, one of the world’s roughest and most dangerous lakes, and seek the relative tranquility of Oberlin Reservoir. Gabe Leidy and Emil Bacik first brought this phenomenon to light almost a week ago, and I made the trip up yesterday.
Gulls aren’t for all, I know. They’re funny, in a way. As a group, and generally speaking, gulls are instantly recognizable and even many a non-birder will make the identification of “sea gull”. But pinning down individuals to species can be far more challenging, and gull fans are known as “larophiles”. I am a casual larophile, as much interested in learning more about their identity as I am admiring these hardy beasts, whose aerial abilities rivals that of the most acrobatic avian flyers. Besides, upon close inspection, gulls are striking – some of the best-looking birds out there.
Oberlin Reservoir, just east of Oberlin, Ohio, and but a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Erie – if you can fly like a gull.
The recent inland invasion of gulls in Ohio is probably without precedent, both in terms of overall numbers and rare species usually not seen in the interior. Also from yesterday come reports of tens of thousands of gulls at Hoover Reservoir – mostly Herring and Ring-billed as would be expected. But observers report Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Glaucous, and Black-legged Kittiwake from the throngs.
If opportunity allows, get out to your local reservoir this week.