Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ottawa NWR Auto Tour 5/17--Common Gallinule, Sandhill Crane

Sunday afternoon, after our return from Erie County, we decided to do the Auto Tour trail at Ottawa NWR and make another halfhearted attempt at finding a rarity--this time a Yellow-headed Blackbird that had been reported there. I have to admit that I don't much like the auto route at Ottawa. For one, it covers two counties, so that makes it complicated on eBird. For another, there aren't a lot of good stopping points. A third disadvantage is that it isn't a loop--rather it dumps you a couple of miles away from from where you started. And fourth, if you do find some good birds, you probably aren't allowed to walk there. Brig it isn't.

So we drove around, stopping in the places where the blackbird had been reported and of course not finding it. It wasn't until we were in Lucas County (you start in Ottawa) that we saw anything worth recording, so that was a simplification. Some Canadian birders had what they suspected was a Black-crowned Night-Heron in their scope and wanted confirmation. We confirmed. There was also a Willow Flycatcher calling back of us (Ottawa County, I suspect) and one of their group went off to photograph it.

We drove off and still hadn't found much of anything when I saw a raptor sitting in a distant tree. I suspected eagle, but couldn't get much in the way of field marks on the bird. Our Canadian friends pulled up and just then the bird flew to the ground, giving a better look and angle and we all saw that it was a Bald Eagle.

Just then one of the women in their group cried out "Crane!" Now, usually, when I'm with birders I don't know and someone says "Crane," I immediately correct them: "You mean heron, or egret." But I'm glad I held my tongue because just then I heard a Sandhill Crane and then, with a little help, we were able to put it in our scope. And we were able to do so just as a friend from NJ pulled up. We had met him and his wife in the parking lot at Magee where we compared notes, but this was the first time in Ohio we had a chance to see birds together.

We continued our drive, happy to have another FOY. Toward the end of the drive we saw some coots and separate from but near to them, a Common Gallinule, very close to the road. Too close for its comfort because as soon as I stuck my hand out the window to point it out to Shari, it flushed. She did see it though.

There had been a Pied-billed Grebe somewhere along the way that I missed, so when we saw this one, sitting on a nest, I was happy with the much better view than I would have had previously.
Photo: Shari Zirlin
25 species
Canada Goose  50
Trumpeter Swan  2
Mallard  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  6
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Bald Eagle  1
Common Gallinule  1
American Coot  9
Sandhill Crane  1
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Herring Gull  2
Caspian Tern  2
Common Tern  4
Willow Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
Tree Swallow  5
Marsh Wren  2
Gray Catbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  1     heard
Yellow Warbler  
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Common Grackle  1

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