Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MBS Trip to Kelleys Island

In the dawn's early light, one hundred of Midwest Birding Symposium's luckiest people entered the gate for the ferry to Kelleys Island.
Jason Larson and Julie "Red" Davis check us off the lists and give us marching orders. This is gonna be a great day!

The lake had calmed considerably since the Thursday cruise. Kathy Mock enjoyed the good weather and the sunny company of Al Batt on the trip across "the pond." It is a four mile crossing to Kelleys Island*, a short 20 minute cruise in good weather.

(*yes, that is spelled right- no apostrophes in the official spelling).

Kelleys rocks!
Our group gathered at Glacial Grooves, the best example of a glacier's mega-groove and a National Landmark. Once there were a series of these humongous gouges in the landscape where ice crawled across the island, but the others were quarried out and the stone shipped away. Today this monument to nature remains to tell the story of these 10 foot deep grooves and the 350 - 400 million year old marine fossils embedded in the limestone.

A highlight of our trip was a visit to Master Bander Tom Bartlett's tent. Tom has been doing research on the island, for at least 20 years... as long as I can remember, anyway. There is something special about seeing a bird in the hand, something mystical and almost life changing.

Another bird bander, Dave Russell, from Miami University (OH.) was able to teach us about these fascinating warblers we were seeing. The key points on a fall Blackpoll warbler are much easier to find when they are in hand. Hint: look at the legs and feet!

Just before lunch at Camp Patamos, I photographed one of the islands most famous residents: the Lake Erie Water Snake. They are famous for being ill-tempered, wanting to bite and musk any fool willing to try to pick them up. This one was exceptionally well colored, most are much plainer and gray-looking.

Until recently, this was a Federally listed endangered species, the topic of much research and efforts to stabilize the population. They are so famous they have been written up in the New York Times and featured on Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs!


  1. Cool! I should've stayed for that!

  2. It was an awesome time! Kelleys is always fun, even when it is not too "birdy."

    Of course, we can alway look at the botany-