Saturday, October 10, 2009

Terns and gulls at East Harbor SP and Port Clinton

In past years, a good place to see terns and gulls in mid to late fall has been the north end of the beach area at East Harbor State Park (Ottawa Co., a short distance east of Port Clinton). I checked this area on Thursday, Oct. 8, and found a good selection of birds there, on the beach and on the small rocky islands just offshore. Among the birds present were at least 19 Caspian Terns, more than 40 Forster's Terns, good numbers of Bonaparte's, Ring-billed, and Herring Gulls, and my first local Great Black-backed Gull of the fall. In mid-September, there were two Lesser Black-backed Gulls at this spot. This is always a good place to check if you're in the area; I never go into the park without making a point of checking the north end of the beach.

Another good area is the immediate beach front in Port Clinton itself. A good vantage point for scanning the area is the base of the municipal pier (reached from the east edge of the "downtown" area). From there you get a good view of the boat channel, the lake, and east along the beach. Hundreds of birds were visible from that point on Thursday, and although they didn't include anything unusual, this is another place where I've seen Lesser Black-backed and Glaucous Gulls in the past.

Incidentally, the photo above shows an adult Caspian Tern in winter (basic) plumage in October. Note the blackish tip on its bill. When the Midwest Birding Symposium was in town last month, some birders questioned the MBS logo because it showed a Caspian Tern with a black bill tip ... and that detail didn't show up in their field guides. But it's common to see this mark on adult Caspians in fall.

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