Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OOS Annual Conference!

We are pleased to announce the Ohio Ornithological Society's 6th annual conference, to be held October 8 - 10 in Eastlake, Ohio, near Cleveland. The shore of Lake Erie is the place to be in early October and the field trips should produce some exciting birds. October is prime time for those beautiful but secretive little skulkers, the Nelson's and Le Conte's sparrows, and some of the field trip destinations are fantastic places to find them. We love it when people get lifers at these conferences, and I think these sparrows will add a few ticks for some people.

While there'll be plenty of terrestrial birding for landlubbers, we've also chartered the vessel "Holiday" to take us out to sea, or Lake Erie, at least. Excursions onto the open waters of the lake are ALWAYS exciting. This is a good time to luck into those fascinating kleptoparasites, the jaegers, including by far our hardest species to find, the Long-tailed Jaeger. Red Phalarope is a possibility as is Sabine's Gull and other unusual gulls. One never knows what will turn up. I was once on an October Lake Erie "pelagic" and a Glossy Ibis flew over. The lake is a magnet for odd birds and it'll be interesting to see what comes to light on these trips.

Conference organizers have arranged an excellent speaker lineup as well. The Dean of Northeast Ohio birding (and dragonflies), Larry Rosche, will give a wonderful overview of birds in the Cleveland region on Friday evening. If you've not yet heard Larry give a talk, you are in for a treat.

We are thrilled that Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association can make the trip up from the Gulf Coast. Drew has been perhaps the premier frontline reporter and documenter of the BP gusher, and has spent countless hours working along the Gulf to chronicle the happenings there and provide solid information to the rest of us. Drew has been widely interviewed in the media and has become one of the go-to people for factual information. You can read about Drew and his work here: He'll be speaking about the Gulf on Saturday night.

John Pogacnik, one of Ohio's top experts, will present a program on sparrows. Probably NO ONE has spent more time birding Lake Erie and environs than John, who is also an outstanding photographer. Harvey Webster of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History will talk about the Smart Light - Safe Flight program, which is an effort to reduce the illumination of buildings and other structures during peak migratory periods to reduce bird fatalities. And Andy Jones, also with the Cleveland Museum, will demystify the phenomenon of migration. All are sure to be excellent and informative programs.

Registration is now open. Just visit the OOS website RIGHT HERE.

We have a blast at these things; OOS conferences are definitely not your run of the mill stuffy affairs! They are a good blend of programs, field trips, and fellowship. I hope you can make it, and if we've not yet met, I'll hope to meet you there!

Photos of some of our field trip sites follow:

The view of downtown Cleveland from the good ship Holiday. Lake Erie "pelagics" are always fun and one never knows what will turn up! Ancient Murrelet, anyone? On the excursion above, there was a Purple Sandpiper AND Peregrine Falcon on that breakwall, and we'll be sailing by it on the OOS conference trips.

Immature Sabine's Gull, a great rarity in Ohio but October on Lake Erie is prime time to find one. This shot was taken at Huron in November 2007; it was the widely seen bird found by Mike Busam.

An aerial view of Dike 14, another of our field trip sites, taken in early winter. Small wonder this former dredge impoundment attracts so many migrants, jutting into Lake Erie as it does. Craig Caldwell and I will be leading the trip into this permit-only site. Brace yourself for sparrows!

Some of the participants on a Dike 14 trip last fall, led by Andy Jones (center, brown coat and red cap) and myself.

Shimmering amber waves of rare beach grasses blanket Headlands Dunes, one of Ohio's most fabled birding hotspots. We'll be there, and so will scads of migrants.

Lake Erie shakes off a storm; purple skies over Fairport Harbor, adjacent to Mentor Headlands. Many a rarity has turned up here, such as Common Eider and Mew Gull.

Birders on sea watch vigil on the iconic Headlands breakwall. This is perhaps the best place in the state to find Purple Sandpiper and Red Phalarope.

A stone's throw from Headlands is Mentor Marsh and the Wake Robin Trail, above. This patch is an eden for Nelson's and Sharp-tailed sparrows, and anyone visiting this place during the conference ought to come up with at least one of them, especially with our sharp-eyed guides along to help.

A bit further afield but well worth the trip is the harbor at Conneaut, site of many a rare bird. One just never knows what will drop in here, from rare shorebirds to Least Tern to jaegers.

C'mon, register soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jim: Very well done excursion into dike 14 on Sunday ten ten ten!
Your leadership was superb - great explanations, descriptions, and even some well-thought-out theories! (chimney swifts's nighttime endeavors). Thanks for sharing your time and energy helping to bring others into a greater love for the outdoors.
Dave English