The word got out quickly and by Sunday afternoon and Monday, some birders had located three adult Yellow-crowned Night-Herons in the same area. No sign of nesting was discovered as far as I know. If you decide to look for these beautiful birds, please stay on the roadway and be careful not to disturb them.
As is often the case, birders who came to see the herons also checked out the rest of the wildlife area, finding some excellent shorebird habitat at Wright Marsh. Several intrepid birders from the Kidron area took time to carefully look through the hundreds of Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpipers and a few dowitchers (probably both Long-billed and Short-billed). They also found a nicely plumaged Stilt Sandpiper and one different-looking shorebird.
The longer they studied the bird and watched it in flight, the more certain they were that it was a female Ruff (also called a Reeve). Calling in some of the rest of us resulted in all of us agreeing that it was indeed a Reeve. By then, the late evening light was getting low and I had left my camera in the car, resulting in a good run to get it, but very poor quality photos. Years ago, several of these very rare shorebirds were found at Funk Bottoms, but this was probably the first one in our area for 20 years or more.
More phone calls were made and a number of birders showed up the next day at Wright Marsh but failed to locate the Reeve. I was there for an hour or more and finally went home, only to get another call saying that nine Marbled Godwits had landed on the mudflats. This was late in the evening and I was already tired and hungry, but the thought of Marbled Godwits revived me. Arriving at Wright Marsh, I biked back out to the impoundment, only to learn that the Godwits had only stayed for a short time before flying off. Thatís the way it goes when you chase rare birds.
But thereís more! The next day, Wednesday, four of us were watching hawks at Conneaut when we got a call from Dennis Kline saying that there were three White-faced Ibis very close to Wright Marsh. These very rare western birds were in breeding plumage and feeding right along the highway. We had more than two hours to drive, arriving at the spot about 15 minutes after the birds had flown off. Fortunately, a number of birders got there in time and took some photos.
What a five-day stretch of birding excitement, and that doesnít even include the warblers that are arriving and the results of the hawk-watch. Tune in next week for that story.
Published: May 1, 2012