If you’re an avid bird photographer from Western PA or Eastern Ohio, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard about Conneaut Ohio for the fall shorebird migration. It lies only a mile from the PA border on Lake Erie. The lake shore is a migration corridor for many migrating birds and come August the shorebirds are already heading south to their wintering grounds. Gull Point at Presque Isle is another good spot to catch the migrating shorebirds, but what makes Conneaut so great is that you can get incredibly close to the birds. You can drive your car right out on the sandspit and take pics of the birds without even leaving your vehicle! In late summer I always make a few trips there to see what I can find. I got there this past Monday at 8am and the first shorebird I saw was a group of Sanderlings. They have always been a favorite of mine. They have so much personality as they are constantly running the shoreline back and forth in front of the waves.
This one came walking right up to me!
The next shorebird I came across were some Lesser Yellowlegs. I got this one as it almost looks like he is staring at himself in the reflection, but really he’s just trying to find his next little meal.
Other than those birds, there wasn’t a whole lot to take pictures of at that point, so I got some photos of this Great Blue Heron as he was completely focused on catching his next fish.
And then there it was!! An American Avocet just flew into the sandspit!!
Avocets are birds that breed in the Western U.S. and Canada and we only see them here in the East (if you’re lucky) when they are passing through in migration. They are not a common bird to see in Ohio or Pennsylvania so it’s always a treat when one shows up. This Avocet landed by the water’s edge and at first he was extremely flighty and every time I tried approaching he took off.
But finally after awhile, this bird seemed to realize that all the birders and photographers there looking at him, meant him no harm. So then he just chilled out a little ways in the water.
They are my favorite shorebird. They have an elegant beauty like no other in my opinion. During their breeding plumage their head and neck is a very rich cinnamon color, but the color was fading on this Avocet which is what happens in late summer. Eventually their head and neck will turn all white for their winter attire. Even with changing out of his breeding colors this bird was still a stunning sight to see!
Occasionally I’d take aim at some of the other shorebirds present like this very fresh juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper.
During the morning hours, the Avocet would occasionally take off flying, but he’d do a few laps around the sandspit and then settle back down.
Here a Barn Swallow for what ever reason decided to give him a little chase.
I took tons of photos of this Avocet since he stayed the entire time I was there. So many times when you see shorebirds during the migration they only stay a short while, sometimes only minutes, so to have several hours with this fine bird was a pure delight.
It may have been a dark, dreary day with rain off and on, but catching the sight of an Avocet will brighten any day. Here was my final photo of him with the Conneaut lighthouse in the background.