Have a “Big Year” adventure all in one day

Hop on the Blue Goose Bus Tour

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

I took advantage of The Blue Goose Bus Tour offered through the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) as part of the Biggest Week in American Birding taking place here along the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio.

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

Everyone else came prepared with high-powered binoculars and cameras … and knew what they were looking at

I was a bird with strange feathers on this adventure. Most of my trip companions were real birders, with binoculars, telescopes and telescoping cameras. I had my eyeglasses, a point-and-shoot camera and paper and pen.

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

We got to go in the ONWR’s Darby Unit, which is closed to the public

Guiding us on the trip was a staff member from Tropical Birding out of Quito, Ecuador. Andreas had started with the bird migration in the Yucatan Peninsula, then followed them to High Island in Texas and now to the Lake Erie shores. It was his first time to the area.

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

The marshlands up here are perfect for birds … and quite beautiful

ONWR intern Drew drove the bus to the Darby Unit, near Port Clinton, which is closed to the public. It is a wonderful marshland, bits of land surrounded by water and trees, perfect for birds.
Being a birding neophyte, I expected to see birds clamoring for space, a bit like beaches filled with tourists. But it wasn’t quite like that. I really needed my husband’s binoculars, because the birds were mostly up in the trees or way out in the marsh. Take a gander.

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

One bird I was able to capture … not sure what it is

Luckily Andreas and other people on the tour would set up their standing telescopes, find a bird species and then let me look. See the list of all the birds I saw below.

See more pics of my trip here.

Other family activities
The Blue Goose tour is probably a bit long for kids under 12, but there are lots of other opportunities for families. They have activities targeting kids 3-5 and 6-10. I heard the Vulture Vomit presentation is a hurling good time!

On the Blue Goose Bus Tour thru ONWR

A gaggle of geese and their goslings crossed my path as I left the ONWR

Goose Crossing
As I was leaving the refuge, a gaggle of geese and their goslings crossed my path.

Now for the bird call. I saw these birds … and more:

Ruddy Ducks
Oriole
Kingbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow warbler
Dunlin
Semi-pileated Plover
Killdeer
Cooper’s Hawk
Blue Jay
Least Sandpiper
Great White Egret
Indigo Bunting
Tree Swallows
Wood Ducks
Double-crested Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Spotted Sandpiper
Yellow legs
Pectoral Sandpiper
Green-winged Teal

2 comments Write a comment

  1. Very fun! We watched “Big Year” this fall and I’ve been hankering to try a tour one of these days!

    • You should plan on coming next year — we are on the migration path, although I guess maybe lots of places are. But, Steve and I are on THIS migration path!

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