Sunday, September 30, 2012

OOS Annual Meeting

Yesterday morning's sunrise, as observed from the pier at Lakeside, Ohio. Lakeside was home base for the Ohio Ornithological Society's annual meeting, and I was part of the festivities. This was the 7th annual powwow if I've got things straight, and these "meetings" are always a great time. They're meetings only because the official vote on elected officers takes place, but that's a tiny part of the get-together.

The main focus of an OOS meeting is speakers, and field trips. Being along Lake Erie, as we were, shorebirds were the primary theme, but it could just have well been warblers. The songbirding probably eclipsed the shorebirding, but both were good. Our two keynote speakers were Mr. Shorebird himself, Kevin Karlson, and Lukas Padegimas, who gave a great presentation on his work with shorebirds in Alaska last year.

About 150 people convened for this year's meeting, and all of us went out in the field. Field trips have always been a staple of OOS events since Day One, and the group does a great job of getting topnotch experts involved to lead the field excursions. That's Jen Brumfield front and center, probably receiving an update on some rarity from one of numerous agents deployed along the lakefront.

We partnered with the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, which provided access to areas of the refuge that are normally off limits. Saturday afternoon's field trip along the dikes was quite an affair, with some 40 vehicles queued up. The sheer volume of optics was staggering.

Ohioans are fortunate in that we have Ottawa NWR, which is a state and national treasure. Its location along the shores of western Lake Erie make the refuge's marshes a beacon for migrant birds. This is the mouth of Crane Creek, which is shallow and estuarinelike. It's mudflats were host to enormous numbers of Common Terns, a lesser number of Forster's Terns, a great diversity of waterfowl, and a couple of American White Pelicans. There weren't scads of shorebirds, but we saw a decent diversity: American Golden-Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, and a few other species. The highlight was two cooperative Buff-breasted Sandpipers, which was a lifer for many.

I helped out at East Harbor State Park on Saturday morning, and we had scads of songbirds, including at least 17 species of warblers. Most conspicuous, by far, were the blizzards of Blackpoll Warblers. I went over to East Harbor with Kevin Karlson for a few hours on Friday afternoon, and we estimated that we saw well over 100 Blackpolls. The next morning our group had even more, and all of the field trips were reporting scads of Blackpolls. The individual in this photo - which I took with my macro lens - was gorging on the fruit of Gray Dogwood, Cornus racemosa, as were many others.

The Ohio Ornithological Society is truly a birder's organization, and does an excellent job of working with birders of all skill levels. Don't let the OR-NIH-THO-LOJ-IH-KAL word spook you! We have a blast, and the various conferences and symposia are worth their weight in gold. CLICK HERE for membership info.

Thanks to everyone who worked to make this another great event!

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1 comment:

Bill of the Birds said...

This made me almost feel like I was there! Great post, Jimbo!