Tuesday, April 10, 2012

East Harbor State Park

April 9, 2012: When we talk about migration in northwest Ohio, a lot of the attention is focused on Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and other spots in that immediate area. A lesser-known gem of a birding spot, less than half an hour away to the east, is East Harbor State Park.  There are many days during migration when this park can be just as good as the famous Magee boardwalk, and it's such a large patch of habitat that it's very valuable as stopover habitat for migrants.

From the middle of Port Clinton, go east on State Route 163 for about 6 miles, then turn left (north) on State Route 269 for about a mile to the entrance to East Harbor State Park.  To get to one of the best birding areas, follow the signs for the beach, which will take you straight through to the east side of the park. After scanning the beach and the open lake, go to the south end of the southern parking lot here, and walk the trails that go south through the woods, paralleling the beach.  I checked this area out today (Monday April 9) and found a good variety of early spring migrants, including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, Fox Sparrow, and Hermit Thrush. Offshore there were fewer birds than usual, but those present included Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and Bonaparte's Gull.  Another good area for land bird migrants is near the park entrance, along the trails around the "frisbee golf" course near the Lockwood picnic shelter.

If you continue east on S.R 163 to the east end of the Marblehead Peninsula, Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is another good spot to scan the lake for waterbirds.  On April 9 a quick scan produced large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers, a couple of Common Loons, and 4 gull species including Great Black-backed Gull. The small patch of woods here is another place that can be good for migrants after nights with south winds.

From that point, if you continue south and then back west along the south side of the peninsula, you pass several more parks and preserves. One of my favorites is Meadowbrook Marsh, just east of the junction of East Bayshore Road and Englebeck Road.  This preserve, set aside by Danbury Township, has meadow, marsh, open water, and woods, supporting a good variety of birds. Wide paths meander through the habitat, for easy access to the birds.  On April 9 I made only a brief visit late in the day, but this yielded Eastern Bluebirds (nesting at the meadow), Eastern Towhees, several Fox Sparrows, and flocks of White-throated Sparrows.

1 comment:

Drew Weber said...

Thanks for this site guide. It will be another great place for me to check during the Biggest Week.

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