The Presque difference

Jerry McWilliams, long-time avid birder in Erie, PA, nearly daily conducts a lake watch from Presque Isle State Park. It is intriguing to compare his results since PISP lies immediately to the east of the Ohio border, a stones throw and less than an hour from Conneaut. Two species that he regularly sees that are hard to come by on the Ohio lakefront are Red-throated Loon and Long-tailed Duck. Both species are far more numerous on Lake Ontario, with flocks of hundreds to thousands of Long-taileds and days with hundreds of Red-throateds migrating by. But on Lake Erie, the numbers drop significantly the farther west you travel on the shoreline. Presque Isle is the farthest west location on Lake Erie where both species numbers are regular. Birders are hard pressed to find either species throughout the late fall and winter period, beyond the occasional single bird of either species. Here in Ohio, Red-throateds NEVER outnumber Common Loons. Today, Jerry recorded 38 Red-throated Loons and 6 Long-tailed Ducks. His tally of Common Loons? 11. Red-throateds clearly stomping on Commons on his count today. Birders visiting Conneaut have the opportunity to set new state records for some species’ numbers if lake watches are conducted…


4 thoughts on “The Presque difference

  1. I conducted lake watches at Conneaut a few times through the years. I even tried to get out there when Jerry McWilliams was seeing large numbers of red-throated loons. The number of red-throated loons seen- 0. I think the red-throated loons and long-tailed ducks prefer the deeper water. I think most are east of the Long Point-Erie Ridge. An underwater ridge running from Long Point to Presque Isle. The deeper waters of Lake Erie are east of here. See:

  2. Very, very interesting John. Thanks for providing the map. It looks like there is a corridor, called the Pennsylvania Channel, that runs just northwest if Presque Isle. I wonder what happens here in depth and abundance of feeder fish. Agreed, both species are deep-water birds. The numbers of Long-tailed Ducks on Lake Ontario are staggering. “Just north” of us at Hamlin (Rochester) they see hundreds to thousands on their counts. It’s amazing that we do not see semi-annual “invasions” with Long-tailed flocks numbering even in the dozens. I still cannot get over the Red-throated Loon numbers being tallied at a location JUST east of the border. A very interesting phenomenon. JB

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s