Life Bird at Conneaut

It's rare for me to see a Life Bird within a day trip of Pittsburgh but that's because I hadn't been to Conneaut harbor.

Conneaut, Ohio is on the shore of Lake Erie near the Pennsylvania line.  The harbor is protected by two long breakwaters whose arms reach out into the lake.  You can barely see them on Google's satellite view but they protect the harbor and a large, sandy mudflat that's grown between the boat launch and Conneaut Township Park.

Conneaut is excellent during migration so I jumped at the chance to join yesterday's Three Rivers Birding Club outing led by Shawn Collins.

We saw thousands of gulls and about two dozen shorebirds.  One of them was this buff-breasted sandpiper, a bird I'd never seen before. He's just slightly larger than a semi-palmated plover and very handsome with an almost innocent staring expression.

I love how he looks when he runs.

I traveled 142 miles to see him but he made a much longer journey to get there.  He flew about 2,500 miles from his Arctic summer home to Conneaut and is only 1/3 of the way to his winter home in Argentina at the Rio de la Plata watershed.

I feel privileged to have seen him.  Buff-breasted sandpipers almost went extinct in the 1920's due to overhunting.  They recovered but are declining again and are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Thanks to Shawn Collins for leading the outing and for these beautiful pictures of my latest Life Bird.

(photo by Shawn Collins)

p.s.  A "Life Bird" is a species that you've seen for the first time in your life.

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