Monday, May 15, 2017

On Lake Erie with My Ottawa Friends...AND a Special Guest!

 Woo-hoo! I get a sunset cruise on Lake Erie!

First, I need to give a HUGE hug and and a big thank you to Amy Arent of the Friends of Ottawa group for asking me along to take some birdy photos! These are a great group of folks that are helping out the refuge when it is really needed...now more than ever!!

Okay, now on with the show!

This was a sunset cruise leaving Port Clinton and heading out to West Sister Island, Ohio's only Wilderness Area. This island is part of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the it's the largest Great Blue Heron and Great Egret rookery on the U.S. Great Lakes...and there's a couple of Double-crested Cormorants too...oh...and a gang of those gray and white birds...uh...gulls, yep, Herring Gulls...silly birds.

Along for the ride were a number of birding experts  including the amazing H. Thomas "Tom Terrific" Bartlett, the man who always has a bluebird on his shoulder...and a wise crack at the ready. I am always in awe of his skills, and he's an amazing bird bander as well! Also on the boat(ship?...watercraft?) was President Theodore Roosevelt, the leader on the early conservation of wildlife areas to save our national treasures. I won't get into any politics concerning the moron in that current position... Teddy was kind enough to shake my hand, yell "Bully" at me and give me his autograph. This is a day I will always remember...in a confused sort of way...

Somehow Tom managed to spot this lone Lesser Black-backed Gull as it flew along the channel and out to the lake. 
He sees all and knows all....

 Not a homeless man.
Tom Bartlett and his bag o' birds.


 President Roosevelt himself!
 
 The number of Double-crested Cormorants is astounding to see.
That lovely white wash is killing the trees they nest in and their numbers have to be surveyed closely to ensure they don't harm the areas for the nesting Herons and Egrets.
 
 There's a pair of Bald Eagles nesting on the island also.

 The Jet Express is doing more to make America great again than a certain orange headed person in D.C.

 I wonder if these Canada Geese have their passports?

 This buoy marks the spot of the Battle of Lake Erie of the War of 1812...which actually took place in 1813...details, details...
This was when Oliver Hazard Perry said:
"Dear General:
We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.
Yours with great respect and esteem, O.H. Perry"

 A Double-crested Cormorant on it's way home.

 LOTS of Herring Gulls on their nests along the rocky coast.


 Oh...my...
I can taste the fresh Lake Erie perch...oh....tasty...

 Taking photos from a not so steady, fast moving boat at sunset with a 500mm lens is a new experience...and I don't think I learned anything.
Milliseconds before this shot, two Spotted Sandpipers flew past.
Really. Ask Tom.


 At last! A Great Blue Heron!
Because of the cormorants, the herons are now nesting towards the center of the island.
These birds get banding and counted by very brave volunteers that climb up trees covered with poison ivy...followed by nestlings vomiting and defecating on them.
Such fun!
I think I'll donate a little extra this year...

 Hey Look!
It's a gray and white bird sitting on a nest making more gray and white birds!
(It's a Herring Gull by the way.)

 A group of Great Egrets going home to roost for the night.

 The Bald Eagles left their nest to watch the sunset too...

 The cormorant on the lower left was teaching a class in nest maintenance.
No one was paying attention.

 Birbs.
Little ones.
Flying. 

 Nope, no lake otters either.

 Oooo...a gray and white bird that doesn't look gray and white in the glow of the sunset!

 It's a glorious night for a cruise on Lake Erie!

 The last of the herons going home for the night...just like me soon.
 
 A truly beautiful sunset on the island...

 Stay tuned!!
More Warbly Fun Coming Soon!!