Last Sunday, December 4, I took a trip to one of my favorite Lake Erie hotspots, the municipal pier at Huron, Ohio, in Erie County. I was undecided about any trip until late the night before, due to some pending projects, but ultimately felt it was in my best interest to get out for a while and try to trip the shutter on some interesting targets. And I found a completely unexpected and mega-interesting target.
I suspect that gannets that appear on Lake Erie or elsewhere on the Great Lakes originate from the massive colony (100,000+ birds!) on Bonaventure Island at Perce, Quebec. That's the red dot on the Google Earth map above. "Ile Bonaventure" sits at the terminus of the Gaspe Peninsula, in the expansive Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is the outflow for the entirety of the Great Lakes. I believe all Ohio gannet records are of juveniles. Apparently, the naive youngsters mistake west for east, and instead of heading out into the Atlantic Ocean to winter with the other gannets, the wayward birds head up the St. Lawrence River and inland. They pass by the iconic Canadian cities of Montreal and Toronto, through Lake Ontario, on past Niagara Falls and up the Niagara River, and into Lake Erie. It's about 1,100 miles from Bonaventure Island to Huron, Ohio, as the gannet would fly.Hillstar Nature. We saw many gannets, of all ages.