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The Midwest Birding Symposium 2009, September 17-20, 2009 in Lakeside, OH

MBS Birding Sites

Lakeside/Marblehead

Lake Erie Islands

South Area

East Area

West Area

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PLEASE NOTE: some wildlife areas may allow waterfowl hunting during the MBS weekend. Please obey all signs about closed hunting areas.
*Stars denote birding sites with volunteer guides.

About the Sites

Lakeside, Ohio, is located along the shoreline in the center of the Lake Erie Western Basin. The entire area of marshlands and shoreline is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA).

The Lake Erie Western Basin offers extensive marshes and water spots that attract all kinds of wading, shore, and water birds. The woodlands surrounding these areas also attract large quantities of beautiful songbirds.

The MBS schedule will take full advantage of the fall migration season, which always brings avian surprises to the surrounding areas.

Birding site opportunities will reach out in all directions and highlight the gems in the area. PLEASE NOTE: Transportation to and from these birding sites is on your own. Many, but not all, sites will have volunteer guides on hand during the morning birding hours of the MBS. Links are included below to show full details, maps, and directions. All map files are available in .pdf format. If you do not have the Acrobat Reader, you can download it from Adobe.com.


Lakeside/Marblehead Area

Lakeside Grounds *

Description

A birder doesn't even have to leave the grounds of the beautiful Lakeside community to find plenty of birds. Towering oaks and other trees provide great resting and foraging habitat for migrant songbirds that have just made the Lake Erie crossing. Lakeside's pier, jutting into the lake, often has roosting gulls and sometimes terns, and venturing to the tip of the pier gives one an excellent "sea watch" vantage point. Visiting the pier on a quiet fall evening is interesting, as one can hear the flight calls of numerous thrushes, warblers, and other passerines as they make their nocturnal peregrinations.

* guides on site

Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: Lakeside / Marblehead area
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 2 miles / 4 minutes

Features

  • State Nature Preserve
  • A tiny 19-acre reserve set aside to protect one of North America's rarest plants, the federally threatened Lakeside Daisy.
  • Can be great for observing migrating raptors.

Description

This tiny 19-acre slab of limestone pavement is most noteworthy for harboring one of the rarest plants in the entire Great Lakes region: the federally threatened Lakeside daisy. Although peak blooming is in May, a few daisies can often be found flowering in September. This spot is a surprisingly good birding spot, and can be great for observing migrating raptors like merlin and sharp-shinned hawk. Often, especially in early morning, songbirds can be observed falling from the sky into surrounding trees, and these exhausted migrants can be observed at close range.

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: Lakeside / Marblehead area
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 2 miles / 4 minutes

Features

  • State Park
  • This nine-acre area features the picturesque Marblehead Lighthouse, completed in 1822.
  • Excellent birding in the surrounding shrubby thickets and woods.

Description

This new, nine-acre state park features one of the most photographed landmarks along the Great Lakes: the picturesque Marblehead Lighthouse, completed in 1822. Being right on the shore of the lake, the birding can be excellent in the surrounding shrubby thickets and woods. Exhausted migrant songbirds often plunk down in these lakeside habitats, and can be admired at close range. Waterbirds passing by on the lake can be interesting, and occasionally shorebirds such as ruddy turnstone forage along the rocky shoreline.

* guides on site

West

East Harbor State Park *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: West near Catawba Island
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 6 miles / 8 minutes

Features

  • State Park
  • The park contains excellent woodland and shrubby thicket habitats.
  • There are also marshlands and large open harbors.

Description

Hard on the Lake Erie shoreline, East Harbor offers a diverse blend of mature swamp woods, shrubby thickets, beach, marsh, and open water. The park has certainly attracted great rarities; for instance, one of Ohio's few records of magnificent frigatebird comes from East Harbor, as does a record of western tanager. The sheltered large bays lure scads of waterbirds, including most of the region's regularly occurring dabblers and divers. Lots of gulls and terns frequently collect on the beach, and they are worth picking through for unusual species such as least tern, Franklin's gull, or lesser black-backed gull.

* guides on site

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: West near ONWR
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 31 miles / 38 minutes

Features

  • State Wildlife Area
  • An undisputed legend among North American birding locales, the famous boardwalk ranks high on many birders' lists of favorite places.
  • 2,000 acres offer a world-famous spring warbler migrant trap on the Lake Erie shoreline.

Description

Perhaps the most iconic birding hotspot in the southern Great Lakes region, Magee attracts thousands of birders annually. Two thousand acres of outstanding marshes abut Lake Erie, and lure scores of waterbirds. To date, almost 340 species have been tallied at Magee--82 percent of all the species thus far found in Ohio. This may be the most reliable site away from the breeding grounds to find Kirtland's warbler, and scores of other rarities have turned up here. A highlight is the seven-acre patch of woods that harbors the world famous "Bird Trail." Migrants abound along this boardwalk, and it is a must-visit site for any birder exploring Ohio's Great Lake region.

* guides on site

Black Swamp Bird Observatory *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: West to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 30 miles / 30 minutes

Features

  • Songbird Banding Demonstration Friday and Saturday
    8:00-9:30 AM
  • Walking Trail
  • Area Birding Maps created by Kenn Kaufman
  • Window on Wildlife
  • Rain Garden
  • Gift Store
  • Located at the entrance to the world-famous Magee Marsh Wildlife Area; voted one of North America's top 10 birding destinations!

Description

Located in the remnants of the once vast Great Black Swamp region of Northwest Ohio, Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) is a 510(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting sound stewardship of avian resources in the Lake Erie Marsh Region. BSBO teams research with education to promote bird conservation. BSBO is the proud sponsor of the Ohio Young Birders Club!

A songbird banding demonstration will be held at Black Swamp Bird Observatory on Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19 from 8:00-9:30 AM. Don't miss this opportunity to learn fascinating facts about bird banding, migration in this area, and see some incredibly beautiful birds "up close and personal."

* guides on site

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: ONWR
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 31 miles / 38 minutes

Features

  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • 9,000 acres of marshes, open water, wooded coastal wetlands, and grasslands.

Description

More than 8,000 acres of Lake Erie marshes attract a dazzling variety of birds. Shorebirds can be exceptionally plentiful, and nearly every species thus far recorded in Ohio has been found here. Peregrine falcons make frequent forays through the marshes, and bald eagles are guaranteed. Hawk migrations can be awesome; kettles of more than 5,000 broad-winged hawks have been seen here in September. Many a rarity has also been found at Ottawa, including vermilion flycatcher, black-necked stilt, and white-winged dove.

* guides on site

Toussaint Wildlife Area

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: West near ONWR
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 31 miles / 38 minutes

Features

  • State Wildlife Area
  • 231 acres of wetland area known for producing excellent marsh birds.
  • Approximately three quarters of the area consists of managed wetlands and open water.

Description

The lushly vegetated, 231-acre Toussaint Wildlife Area lies along the banks of the Toussaint River, and is known for producing excellent marsh birds. American and least bitterns are occasionally seen, as are all the more common species of herons. Rail migration can be outstanding; king and Virginia rail and sora are all possible in fall. Sometimes large numbers of blackbirds stage here, and picking out a yellow-headed blackbird is always possible. Large numbers of gulls and terns sometimes forage and rest on adjacent river shallows.

Lake Erie Islands

Kelleys Island

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: Ferries convenient to Lakeside

Features

  • Lake Erie island
  • 2,800 acres offers many diverse habitats that host a variety of birds during spring and fall migration.

Description

This 2,800-acre chunk of limestone is Ohio's most diverse Lake Erie island, and is a treat for natural history enthusiasts. The ferry trip from the Marblehead Peninsula takes about 25 minutes, and often produces lots of gulls, terns, and waterfowl. Island habitats can offer up wonderful displays of migratory songbirds, including every regularly occurring migrant warbler. An added bonus can be massive numbers of migrating Monarch butterflies. North Pond State Nature Preserve is the best remaining marsh on a Lake Erie island in Ohio, and an observation tower offers good vistas of the landscape.

East

Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Reserve *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: East of Huron
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 30 miles / 36 minutes

Features

  • State and National Preserve
  • 572 acres feature a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats: marshlands, open water, a barrier sand beach, upland forests, and old crop fields in early plant succession.

Description

Established in 1980, Old Woman Creek is the only freshwater Great Lakes estuary in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's national system of estuarine reserves. An outstanding visitor's center offers educational exhibits into Great Lakes coastal ecology. A system of trails affords access to Old Woman Creek's varied habitats, which include woodlands, meadows, and the open waters and marshlands of the estuary. September birding can be outstanding, as large numbers of migrant songbirds move through the area.

* guides on site

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve *

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: East near Huron
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 26 miles / 31 minutes

Features

  • State Nature Preserve
  • 465 acres comprise some of the last remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline in the Sandusky Bay region.
  • It is known to attract nearly 300 bird species and provide habitat for many kinds of wildflowers.

Description

A true hidden jewel of Lake Erie birding locales, the 465 acres of Sheldon Marsh can produce birding to rival any spot along the lakefront. Habitats include shrubland, meadows, old-growth swamp forest, marsh, and an impressive barrier beach bordering the open waters of Lake Erie. This is a great spot for such uncommon songbirds as golden-winged warbler, and piping plover regularly appears on the beach. During fall migratory fallouts, the trees can be dripping with fantastic diversity and numbers of thrushes, warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and other migrants.

* guides on site

South

Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: Southwest of Sandusky
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 23 miles / 33 minutes

Features

  • State Wildlife Area
  • 2,800 acres along the southern shore of Lake Erie.
  • The area accounts for high numbers of songbirds, shorebirds, and hawks during spring and fall migration.

Description

The 2,800 acres of Pickerel Creek are mostly high-quality wetlands that buffer the shoreline of Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie's largest harbor. If water levels are low, the area is a beacon for migrating shorebirds. Scores of herons also occur, including rarities such as tricolored heron on a regular basis. Wide-open panoramas and close proximity to Lake Erie also make Pickerel Creek a great spot to observe migrant raptors. Rarities turn up with regularity, including yellow-headed blackbird, both bitterns, glossy and white-faced ibis, and Eurasian wigeon.

Resthaven Wildlife Area

Driving

  • Direction from Lakeside: South near Castalia
  • Approximate Distance/Time: 16 miles / 24 minutes

Features

  • State Wildlife Area
  • Totaling 2,272 acres, the area includes 444 acres of water.
  • Vast prairies, open ponds, and swamp forest.

Description

This spectacular prairie remnant is the best remaining example of the vast prairies that once blanketed extensive sections of the western Lake Erie basin. Open ponds and swamp forest attract waterbirds galore, including bald eagle and osprey. Lots of standing dead timber means lots of woodpeckers, and this is a good locale to look for red-headed woodpecker. Resthaven is also a major staging area for swallows–thousands may be present, and flocks can include all six species that regularly occur in Ohio. Songbird migration can also be exceptional, and the woods and thickets often produce wonderful birding.