The city of Cleveland recedes as we motor our way down the Cuyahoga River, headed for Ohio's version of an ocean.
In the last post, I touched on our wildly successful expedition out into the open waters of Lake Erie, one of the world's most dangerous water bodies. We were looking for birds.
Perhaps more ships have gone down in Erie than any other comparably-sized puddle on the globe. We didn't, but had we, the news would have been full of the story, weird as it would have been: "Bird-watchers lost at sea!" We did have a mishap not of our own doing, but it was along the lines of an inconvenience, and all worked out well as we got a great bird of it.
We were of course ecstatic to see several Black-crowned Night-Herons lollygagging in streamside shrubs as we trolled down the river. Here we have two dapper-looking adults, with a much less conspicuous immature bird on the left.
Before you castigate me for the quality of this photo, it should be known that: I was on a moving boat; it was dark; I was tossing life preservers to overboard birders while working a crossword puzzle; and trying to drink my coffee while operating the boat's sump pump, as I snapped the shot.
It didn't take long for my chums to begin casting the chum, popcorn in this case. So many cooked kernels were flying overboard that it looked like it was snowing, but look at the mob of gulls as a result. We didn't pull any goodies in, like Black-headed Gull, but this spewing of offal strategy (offal strategy?) often does produce rarer feathered garbageheads.
Our triumphant return to Cleveland and the mouth of the Cuyahoga River was heralded by scads of Double-crested Cormorants. You can see one of them waving its wings at me. "Jim, here! Over here! Me! Take MY picture!"
Tons of gulls were in the protected harbor, littering the breakwalls and loafing about on the sheltered waters. Nothing beyond the Big Three: Herring, Ring-billed and Bonaparte's gulls. We certainly scoured their ranks looking, and we had more time to do so than we had planned on.
Why? Because sometime after our departure, it was dropped and froze in place, utterly blocking all river traffic. So low to the water is the bridge that a coot would bump it's head trying to swim under. So, we went to Plan B and boated to the not too distant Edgewater Marina, where a cab was summoned and drivers taken back to the launching point to fetch vehicles.
Not a problem, though - lemonade was squeezed from lemons, as we got an absolutely wonderful bird as a result. Not only that, it posed like Sarah Palin in front of a crowd of paparazzi, giving all fantastic looks. I'll have pics and video of that gem next time around.
Here's the route we took, traced with the red line. It was only a four hour excursion, but action-packed and pleasing to all aboard.
Thanks again to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Bob Faber and Discovery Tours for putting the trip together, and our fearless leaders, Kenn Kaufman and John Pogacnik. Let's do it again!