Sunday’s Cleveland Brown’s game afforded a unique opportunity for a few winter bird-crazed passengers to bird by boat. The Holiday, passenger ferry with regular scheduled trips to transport Cleveland Brown fans from the “Flats” to the stadium, scheduled a corresponding 3-hour birding cruise on the Cleveland Lakefront. We birders were thinking the “Brownies” must be crazy to want to set in a cold stadium for three hours, while I can only imagine what the “Brownies” thought of the birders- cruising the lakefront in winter weather!
Setting aside my misgivings of “three hour cruises” and small boats, I was pleased that Gilligan was not found aboard. The trip was off to a great start when we cruised up the Cuyahoga River to find a spectacular sighting of Black-crowned Night-herons, a winter roost with 54 individuals being counted. Certainly, that sighting was enough to make some of the football fans wonder what they would be missing once we dropped them off at the stadium!
The cruise had a nice mix of waterfowl, gulls and several falcons made appearances as well. The showstopper, or should I say- boat stopper of the day- was the Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus off the lakefront break wall at Cleveland Burke Airport. I have seen Snowies at the airport before, long distance scoped-out birds that could pass for a white plastic bag, but this was the real McCoy.
You could feel the reverence and awe of the passengers on that little boat, for we knew we were in the presence of an Artic wonder, one of the most exciting birds to grace Ohio. No wonder little Billy Thompson III became a birder the day he spotted one of these white-winged wonders.
To learn more about Snowy Owls and the Owl Research Institute go here.