Hotspots Near You

107. East 72nd St. Fishing Area, Cleveland, Ohio

In winter, look for gulls, ducks, mergansers, and other waterfowl at this Lake Erie hotspot.
By Jim McCormac | Published: 12/22/2010

Some of my coldest, most memorable birding has been along the icy shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland. If you are a gull enthusiast — nut? — this is the place to be. When extended cold snaps lock our fourth largest Great Lake in ice, the warm water outflows of the power plant at East 72nd St. create unfrozen leads — and productive birding. It’s a gullapalooza, as scads of Herring, Ring-billed, and jumbo Great Black-backed Gulls converge to feast on dead gizzard shad. The Big Three are joined by ghostly Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, and sharp-eyed birders routinely pick out Thayer’s Gulls. In all, 19 gull species have been recorded in the Cleveland area, making the region one of North America’s premier gull hotspots. Rarities have included Black-headed, Mew, California, and Ivory Gulls.

Ducks also abound, often at your fingertips. Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Canvasback, and the occasional scoter occur. It was in this area that Ohio’s only Tufted Duck appeared, and there are records of Barrow’s Goldeneye and King Eider. Peregrine Falcons nest on the power plant and make occasional grabs at waterbirds. — Jim McCormac

Jim McCormac is the author of Birds of Ohio. He writes the blog Ohio Birds and Biodiversity. He also wrote about Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, Hotspot Near You No. 23, The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, No. 55, and Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus, Ohio, No. 73.

 

107. East 72nd St. Fishing Area, Cleveland, Ohio

Directions

The East 72nd St. Fishing Area is a birding site within Cleveland Lakefront State Park. From southbound I-90, take the East 72nd St. exit, and turn north into the park. Proceed to the west end of the parking lot. From northbound I-90, exit at Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. Turn left at the end of the ramp, left on N. Marginal Dr., and right into the park.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
41°32’16.68″N  81°38’29.54″W

Habitat

Open waters of Lake Erie.

Terrain

Pancake flat; you’ll be standing on sidewalks or level ground and doing very little walking.

Birds

Regular in winter: Canvasback, Redhead, both scaup, scoters, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common, Red-breasted, and Hooded Mergansers, and Little, Bonaparte’s, Ring-billed, Herring, Thayer’s, Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, Glaucous, and Great Black-backed Gulls. Occasional: Purple Sandpiper, Red Phalarope, Pomarine Jaeger, Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, Cackling Goose, Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loon, Black-headed Gull, Snow Bunting, and Winter Wren.

When to go

Early November, when huge numbers of Bonaparte’s Gulls arrive, through February.

Amenities

Restrooms. Restaurants and hotels nearby.

Access

State park. No entrance or parking fees. Open during daytime hours. Not accessible from public transportation.

Tips

Dress warm! Winter along Lake Erie is cold and often windy. Temperatures plummeting to single digits or below is not uncommon, and wind chills make it seem much colder. Oftentimes, birds are so close that you’ll need only binoculars, but a scope is strongly advised for scanning distant birds. Nearby breakwalls are worth watching for Snowy Owls and roosting gulls.

For more info

Cleveland Lakefront State Park, (216) 881-8141.
Ohio Ornithological Society
Kirtland Bird Club
Ohio Young Birders Club
Cleveland Area Winter Lakefront Birding Trail map (pdf)

Sites nearby

Eastlake Power Plant
About 18 miles northeast of Cleveland Lakefront State Park at the end of Erie Rd. Gulls, mergansers, scoters, scaup, and other ducks.

Avon Lake Power Plant/Miller Park
About 27 miles west of Cleveland Lakefront State Park at Hwy. 6 and Miller Rd. Another winter spot for gulls, plus Tufted Titmouse, Snow Bunting, Red-headed Woodpecker.

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