First off, JUSTIN BOSLER provided the majority of this awesome info, and I’ll make sure quote everyone’s sightings and observations below. This is a comprehensive breakdown of shorebird opportunities (or lack thereof in certain areas) in Ohio, as of Saturday August 3rd.
PIPE CREEK WA (NO)
Water still high. “As of 2 August, the water is still high in unit B of Pipe Creek WA. Rumor was that the water level would be coming down after 1 Aug. I guess we’ll have to wait and see” – Justin Bosler
PICKEREL CREEK WA / WILLOW POINT WA (NO)
Justin Bosler: “Both Willow Point WA and Pickerel Creek WA (Erie and Sandusky counties) continue to have very minimal shorebird habitat. Like it or not, these wildlife areas are primarily managed for waterfowl, so the management is often reluctant to let the water go once they get it. Almost every single unit that I’ve seen is overflowing with water.
With the continued wet weather I doubt these sites will be at all productive before the waterfowl hunting season commences in a little over a month, with teal up first.”
LORAIN HARBOR IMPOUNDMENT (NO)
Gabe Leidy had 2 Willets at Lorain a few days ago, but the impoundments are flooded, with only one very small section of lower water that could attract taller shorebirds (Willet, avocet, godwits). The potential for phalaropes here is “ok”, however.
OTTAWA CO HWY 590 shortgrass field (YES)
Justin Bosler found a jackpot field in NW Ohio on Thursday (1st). Here’s Kenn Kaufman’s post from Thursday evening (1st): “Earlier today, Justin Bosler posted on the listserve about a spot in Ottawa Co that looked promising for shorebirds: a very large field, freshly cut, half a mile south of State Route 2 on the east side of Hwy 590. Kimberly and I went there this evening and saw essentially the same birds Justin had reported, including this molting adult (Western) Willet, 3 adult Black-bellied Plovers, 1 Semipalmated Plover, and 400-plus Killdeer. The spot looks excellent for Upland Sandpiper; in decades past, Uplands used to form flocks in cut fields in n.w. Ohio in late July and early August, but apparently their population has declined since then. In addition to the shorebirds, we also had 30-plus Bobolinks flying around an alfalfa field just south of the mowed field; they are already staging for southward migration.” PARKING: there are a few pulloffs on the EAST side of Hwy 590. Do NOT stop on 590 itself!
WEST SCHILLER ROAD (a few miles south of ONWR’s Boss Unit) (YES)
Justin Bosler on W Schiller Rd – a good spot south of Ottawa NWR’s Boss Unit, on Benton-Carroll Rd. “Just another heads up for birders in NW Ohio this weekend.
The flooded ag. field on W Schiller Rd., just E of Rocky Ridge (Ottawa Co.), was still producing numbers of shorebirds throughout the week. After today’s rains I’m sure it’ll be just plain good thru the weekend and into next week. On Thursday I had a good showing of Semipalmated Plovers and both Semi and Least Sandpipers as well as 7 Pectoral Sandpipers. This site would be good to check in conjunction with the previously mentioned short-grass field off SR 590 nr. SR 2.”
MIDDLE HARBOR (East Harbor State Park) (YES)
Justin Bosler on Middle Harbor, Aug 2nd: With the water now down at Middle Harbor to the lowest level so far this fall, an impressively large mudflat is finally exposed at the north end. Over a hundred shorebirds utilizing it now. This area is part of East Harbor State Park. It is accessed at the dead end of Buck Rd. (continuing past terminus of SR 269). Park in gravel lot adjacent to West Harbor hiking trail and walk out the short peninsula to an opening in the woods overlooking the flats.
FINDLAY AREA (YES)
Jeff Loughman has had good diversity at a flooded ag field east of Findlay – on TR 180, south of 568.
FUNK BOTTOMS/WILDERNESS ROAD (YES)
On August 1st, Richard Pendlebury had 13 species of shorebirds (including avocet) on Wilderness Road, where they are drawing down some of the ponds and shorebird habitat is present!
CONNEAUT HARBOR SANDSPIT (YES)
Conneaut continues to offer birders the “drop-in” effect, with recent American Avocets, Whimbrel, peeps, plovers, dowitchers are more. Patience is needed at this location, since birds drop in, then head out.
SOUTHWEST OHIO SHOREBIRD UPDATE by Brian Wulker
Brian Wulker: “Southwest Ohio Shorebird Habitat Update:
The Lawrenceburg Rd Bridge near Elizabethtown (Lost Bridge) is currently the best, with several large gravel bars visible from the bridge. The adjacent topsoil operation has been attracting the most birds, but could use some rain in the coming weeks. 12 sp in the last 2 weeks. The Fernald Preserve has some muddy spots that have been attracting birds, but most (and best) are not in public view. The Biowetland near the visitor center has the best mud that’s easy to get to, but also has lots of vegetation. 11 sp in last 2 weeks Armleder Park had some habitat last weekend, but required some bushwacking to get too. Take the paved trail to the middle overlook and follow the foot path north through the stinging nettles, and then unmowed portion of “the beanfield” to view the habitat. Few birds last weekend. 4 sp in last 2 weeks. Ellis Lake was reported a week ago as dry where the traditional mudflats normally are. I hope to spend Saturday surveying some of these, and some new locations with potential.