3/16 – Huron to Avon Lake – waterfowl struggles, part III

Headed out to Huron Pier in hopes of relocating the Eared Grebe reported yesterday by Dave Clark. Out at the lighthouse, I was confronted by scalding cold and savage winds – the type that make picking out a darker, pointier-headed grebe from the rest next to impossible.  There were 12 Horned Grebes in a tight bunch at the end of the pier – all with their heads tucked, spending most of their time out of sight in the troughs of three-foot waves.  It’s very possible the Eared was amongst these but as my scope covered, then froze over, with sea spray, I turned my attention elsewhere.

“Hey, that stick out on the ice is shaped like a Red-necked Grebe.”  I put my bins on it for kicks, and sure enough, there was a Red-necked Grebe, hunkered down on the ice of the frozen impoundment.


Grebes and loons  are notorious for mistaking wet parking lots and roadways for open water, and crash-landing in places they can’t fly out of.  That definitely seemed to be the case with this bird, as soon it began taxiing across the icy runway on NBA-sized feet in a futile attempt to get airborne.  This happened several more times as I watched.  The good news for this guy is there are plenty of dead fish for him to eat on the ice, if he so chooses.


Also present at Huron were a third-cycle “Kumlien’s” Iceland Gull and an adult Glaucous Gull.

I headed back west, canvassing unknown backroads in search of goose flocks, mostly.  No luck in that department, but a light-phase Rough-legged Hawk was found along Frailey Rd. in Vermilion – about a mile south of SR-6, just south of the railroad tracks.

A stop along the Black River in Lorain netted a Great Black-backed x Herring Gull (third-cycle).  This massive gull with slate-grey mantle definitely had a good dose of GBBG badass-ness.  I watched it for several minutes bully every much-smaller Herring Gull on its floating ice island.

Last stop, Avon Lake Power Plant.  I was greeted by a male Greater Scaup sitting in the parking lot.  It definitely is a bit of a downer to watch so many of the birds we know and love suffering this winter.


The ice moved in greatly since last night.  I took a quick jaunt to the end of the pier, where there were six White-winged Scoters in close, but no grebes.  A good number of ducks and a few more scoters were further east, with an adult Iceland Gull in their mix.  At this point, I decided to let the galeforce northeast wind push me back to the car.


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