Lorain Harbor – sure bet for great weekend birding

Many of you have probably heard peeps about good things happening at Lorain lately – multiple Little Gulls, Franklin’s, 10,000 Bonies…  I was hoping to stumble across one of those dainty beauties with the midnight underwings when I stopped in late this afternoon, but was illprepared for the breathtaking scene already in full swing when I arrived.  In the golden sinking rays, the surface of the harbor appeared literally alive, with huge numbers of foraging Bonaparte’s and Red-breasted Mergansers cloaking the water’s surface.  A hunter on the far breakwall fired a few shots, and every single bird in the harbor took flight simultaneously.  The whistling of 15,000 merganser wingtips consumed all airspace, while an equal number of Bonaparte’s Gulls whirled about perfect unison.

Basically, Lorain looks like THE spot to be this weekend.  The Bonaparte concentration over the past week is the best I have ever seen here, ranging from ~10,000 to the 15,000 I estimated this evening.  15K = increased chances for those delightful species which tend to keep these guys company – Little, Black-headed, Franklin’s, and Sabine’s Gulls, and Black-legged Kittiwake…perhaps a passerby jaeger.  Who knows? Maybe all these species are already present in this flock.  And don’t forget about that elusive “pink” beauty of the far north.  Your friendly moderators at N/NW have been scheming on a Ross’s Gull for quite some now…just as we’ve been calling for a Black-tailed for the past few years.  Rock on, Craig!  Who BTW, also discovered one of two state Ross’s Gull records.  That’s a track record.

Happy Turkey Day, all!

– Gabe Leidy

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3 thoughts on “Lorain Harbor – sure bet for great weekend birding

  1. What an enjoyable narrative, thank you! I’m heading up there tomorrow for the first time, and I hope I get nearly as fortunate as this. I’ve been next door to the impound, but never to the harbor, so I’m pretty excited! Winds are looking to be out of the south/southwest averaging a pretty steady 15 mph, so not the ideal winds we hope for and it should be pretty breezy, but I still hope to catch some nice shots anyway.

  2. Gabe, what a pleasure to meet you here at the harbor today, but you left too soon! Not two minutes after you were gone, an adult Bonie with full-hood made an appearance on the harbor side. Hopefully, not to worry though…I’ve sent Jen the pics already and maybe she’ll post a couple. I also sent her the ones of what I’m sure were the cliff swallows at Sandy Ridge on the 15th and requested she forward them to you.
    See you around!

    • Hey Chuck –

      Nice to make your acquaintance, as well, and put a face behind the great photos I’ve been seeing on here lately! There has been at least one Bonie hanging around Lorain with a full hood for a couple weeks, and that is not unheard of actually. It seems that yearly we always so have a couple individuals with following delayed molt schedules, which keep that black hood well into the offseason. I always use these bird to guage how well I am scanning a flock of cycling Bonparte’s. If I’m not lucky enough to find a Little Gull or other exciting bird in the flock, I’ll try to refind the black-hooded bird several times to make sure I’m scanning the flock thoroughly.

      I got the swallow pics and need to lighten them up just a touch to make some things out…thanks for sharing and I’ll get back soon. Hope to see you around.

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