Ice Ice Baby...

From toasty Oak Harbor, Kim Writes: January 2nd, 2010. The forecast: temperature 17 degrees (windchill made it feel like 3), winds NW @ 15-25 mph, scattered flurries... Whew, sounds like a great day to stay inside, right?!


We didn't just go outside--we went WAY outside. Kenn and 40+ of our closest friends pushed the limits of sensibility clean over board and took a little winter cruise to look for birds on the good ship Holiday.

A few people who registered for the trip changed their mind at the last minute, and, trust me, I completely understood! I have to admit that there was a point, as the boat left the protection of the channel and headed out in to the open waters of Lake Erie, that I thought, THIS IS FREAKIN NUTS! But, it was actually a pretty cool experience; literally and figuratively!

This is the third of three trips that we (Black Swamp Bird Observatory) have done in partnership with Inside the Great Outdoors Radio, and Discovery Tours of Cleveland. The weather for the first two trips in November was downright balmy. There were people on deck in T-shirts.

Check out Andy Jones rockin the
BSBO T-shirt on the first trip:

However, today Lake Erie gave us all a good dose of Northern Ohio winter weather. Nothing like a little hardcore, extreme birding. You just have to know how to dress for it!

Please read this in your best Robin Leach voice!
Meet Ohio Young Birders Club member, Lukas Padegimas. Lukas is wearing the latest in crusty winter birding fashion.

Please note the way that Lukas, ever the fashion risk taker, accessorizes his look with an icy-cool fur cap and face mask.
And of course, no birding ensemble would be complete without optics.
Lukas stuns with the very best in " fully coated" glass.

And next we have Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist, Keith Lott. Keith is sporting the latest in "cool" birding fashion trends for 2010.
Nice look, Keith. Indeed, that is a "lott" of ice you're wearing there, Sir.

And finally, on the icy runway of the Holiday, it's John "The Ice Man" Pogacnik, modeling a bit of the Lake himself. Nice look, Ice Man!

In case the photos don't make it clear, the fine sheath of ice that Lukas, Keith, and John are wearing is the result of Lake Erie lapping up over the bow and into the laps of the brave birders who opted to ride the rail as we navigated a particularly rough stretch of Lake Erie.

17 degrees + Lake Erie waves + brave birders = Birdercycles!
Until you've experienced it you can't fully appreciate just how cold it gets this far out into the Lake in winter.
Or the amazing diversity of species seen this far off shore!

Just kidding!
These are shots from our trip to Antarctica last year.

But here are some real, honest-to-goodness, shots of the Lake Erie scenery.

We really did see some cool birds on the trip. There was one very late and very Great Egret, and an almost equally late Dunlin. A lot of the birds were seen along the shoreline from the boat. Birds like: Belted Kingfisher, at least 78 Black-crowned Night-Herons, a couple Great Blue Herons, a few Northern Mockingbirds, and a few people even people spotted a Gray Catbird.

We were in almost constant company of tens of thousands of gulls...
(mostly Ring-billed and Herring), but a few Bonaparte's, several Great Black-backed Gulls, at least one Lesser Black-backed, and John Pogacnik even had a quick look at a Thayer's Gull.

We had pretty good duck diversity with lots of adorable Buffleheads (except for one that really got its head buffled...I'll tell ya later), Green-winged Teal, Ruddy, Mallard, Redhead, Canvasback, Lesser and Greater Scaup, American Black Duck, Goldeneye, Northern Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Merganser, and Hooded Merganser. We also had several American Coots,

But there was a real show stopper that, in spite of the rather graphic nature of the scene, captivated everyone on board. When somone shouted, "Peregrine," everyone on board piled over to the starboard side to get a look. The bird was on the ground and in its clutches was a female Bufflehead. I felt sorry for the duck, but, WOW, what a gorgeous bird that adult female Peregrine was. We got killer looks at this killing machine. Here are a couple really bad photos:

It was a great way to spend an early January day in Northern Ohio, and I'm so very grateful to all the brave souls that joined us today. I especially want to thank our leaders, Paula Lozano, Robert Hershberger, John Pogacnik, and Kenn Kaufman, for their time and expertise and hardiness and bravery today. And to Bob Faber, and the crew of the Holiday, thank you SO much! We can't wait to do it again!


  1. All I can think of is...BRRRR!!!

  2. My jaw drops at those frozen coats and bins!

  3. Do binocular warranties cover "Trips Over The Edge Of Insanity"?
    Good Lord.
    But the PEFA would have made the trip for me, gulls be damned.

  4. Niiice post! Good to know several of the shorebirds mentioned are also found here in the bay area. The Falcon sighting would have made the cold worth it for me!


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