It took almost the entire afternoon. But with the help of 20 other pairs of birding eyes, and some fresh peach pie from Blackberry Tavern to boost my energy, I found the elusive, mega rare Limpkin.
Why is it mega rare?
Because the Limpkin’s habitat is Florida and the river swamps of Georgia.
Almost one thousand miles south of Lake Erie.
Which is why birders in Michigan and Ohio were flocking to the western shore of Lake Erie this weekend.
The bird is not expected to be found in Ohio.
Why else would so many people stand along the side of the road, peer into the shadows with binoculars and spotting scopes, past the snarl of hundreds of dead branches?
We all had hopes of a glimpse of the ibis-sized brown and white bird with the long decurved orange bill.
Where is the Limpkin?
My first attempt at finding the Limpkin was earlier in the afternoon.
Turning down the road to Magee Marsh, I stopped at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory to check if anyone had observed the bird earlier in the day.
No, the staff replied. Last time it was seen was yesterday, late in the day.
I wasn’t disappointed. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay long.
It was almost 2pm and I was hungry for lunch.
After searching the designated Limpkin stakeout hotspot, scanning the shoreline with half a dozen people for 20 minutes and only seeing Monarch butterflies, I decided it was time for food.
Lunch Break and Renewed Energy
Blackberry Tavern is the favorite spot for birders in the area, and this time of the year, they had fresh peach pie!
Ah, it was glorious.
I was in a good mood as I headed back to the marshes in search of the bird. Still no luck, no one had seen it in the mid-afternoon.
Heading over to Howard Marsh meant I could take in some of the Snowy Egrets and Common Terns that I hadn’t already seen. But I wasn’t willing to give up on the Limpkin.
Found the Limpkin!
Back to Magee Marsh I went. Turning around the bend, there was a crowd of birdwatchers with binoculars pinned to their eyes looking in one dense part of the marsh.
The Limpkin had been found. But it wasn’t easy to observe as it slowly walked through the tangle of dead reeds in the shadows of the wooded area next to the marsh.
Which is why my Limpkin photo is an obstructed view of the bird. I had to kneel on the ground to take the photo.
You can clearly see the orange decurved bill of the unmistakable dark brown bird with white spots.
Life bird number 276 for me!