Last Sunday, following the OOS conference, groups of birders radiated out to about ten different sites in the Oak Openings and the western Lake Erie marshes. Sunday dawned cool, sunny, and perfect. Above, the most birders that I have ever seen along Girdham Road in the Oak Openings Metro Park congregate. Their main target is the Lark Sparrows that breed here, but those harlequin-faced seedeaters got trumped when a group of thirteen Red Crossbills dropped into the distant pines along the left side of the road, top of the photo. Not everyone got to see these erratic X-bills, which have been confounding birders in this area for the past three days.
Then, as we were leaving the dunes after two and a half hours, the sharp-eyed and aforementioned Desert Fox whisper-shouts “Lark Sparrow”! We stopped in our tracks, and two of these beauties came waltzing out into plain view, about 30 feet out on the open sand. Those people with the mega-lenses, such as Dave Lewis, probably got awesome photos. This was a life bird for a number of our crowd, and a state bird for others.
Lest you live in the Great Plains or elsewhere westward and not understand the enthusiasm, Lark Sparrows are very rare in Ohio. We list them as endangered, and the Oak Openings is the only reliable spot one can find them. These birds represent the easternmost breeding population.
It was another fantastic morning in the Oak Openings, and thanks to all who came out and everyone that made the OOS conference.