Thursday, November 1, 2012

From pumpkin shoots to pheasant stockings, what Hurricane Sandy has - and has not - impacted

Hurricane Sandy’s winds may have passed but the storm’s footprint is still stamped all over the state.

That includes in Northeast Ohio.

Here, at least two local sportsmen’s clubs were forced to cancel planned events because their grounds remain too soggy.

And another Ashtabula County-based sportsman’s club says that while its shooting ranges are swampy they remain usable. At least for the moment and as long as any additional heavy rains don’t add to the misery.

Of chief concern for Ohio’s small-game hunters is the status of the state’s ring-necked pheasant stocking for tomorrow’s - Friday, Nov. 2 - season opener.

That’s still a “go” at all pre-selected locations, says Vicki Mountz, the Wildlife Division’s administrative assistant.

Also open and available are all of the Wildlife Division’s archery and firearms shooting ranges with the exception for the one at the Killbuck Wildlife Area. This unit’s range is closed due to routine maintenance, however, and not because of Hurricane Sandy.

As for state-owned marinas and boat launches along Lake Erie, the Edgewater Marina at Cleveland Lakefront State Park is open though the docks are filled with debris and are thus unsafe. The marina operator is shuttling boat dock renters to their vessels.

No other Lake Erie-based state-owned boat launch or marina is closed though caution is urged since debris likely has accumulated at all locations.

Also, no other known interior state-owned marina or boat launch is closed.

Regarding the storm’s fingers digging into area activities, that has happened, says various local sportsmen’s groups.

The Geneva Township-based ORCO Sportsmen Club says it has cancelled this weekend’s Forth Annual Pumpkin and Zombie Target Shoot. This popular event grew so large that ORCO separated the two activities, the Zombie Target Shoot scheduled for Saturday and the Pumpkin Shoot for Sunday.

Likewise, the Saybrook Township-based Ashtabula Road and Gun Club was forced to scrub a scheduled field trail this past weekend. The fields and grounds probably will take a week without rain before they can become usable again, a Rod and Gun Club field trial official said.

For members of Hartsgrove Township-based Crooked Creek Conservation Club they can still use their extensive pistol bays, as well as the 100, 200, and 300 yard rifle ranges but the ground is saturated and mushy, a club board member said.

On a much brighter note the hurricane ushered in a large contingent of bird species, mostly shore and sea birds. Some of the species are even seldom seen here, too, says John Pogacnik, Lake Metroparks’ biologist and an avid birder.

“This has been an unbelievable few days that we may not see again for years,” Pogacnik said. “It will still be interesting over the next few days as misplaced birds wander a bit. Maybe something really good will show up yet.”

Here are some of the highlights over the last few days and as noted by Pogacnik:

* Brant - “Over 300 brant reported by a couple observers on Sunday. I had close to 300 on Tuesday and Jim (McCormac) and I had over 200 yesterday.”

* Scoters - “I saw 1,500 on Saturday. Another observer had 1,200 in Cleveland that same day.  Easily a new Ohio record. There are still a lot around.”

* Eiders - “I had three common eiders on Monday including one male. Several observers had possible birds on Saturday. It is an extremely rare bird in Ohio with less than five records (two records are from Fairport Harbor).”

* “Red phalarope - “Unusual sea-going shorebird, one at Conneaut Harbor.”

* Gulls - “There have been reports of a few uncommon gulls including Sabine’s gull (rare, an ocean-going gull), little gull (uncommon gull), Frranklin’s gull (an uncommon gull), Black-headed gull (rare gull), black-legged kittiwake (uncommon gull).”

* Jaegers - “Jaegers are an uncommon ocean-going seabird that occurs occasionally on Lake Erie. I had four pomarine jaeger sightings on Tuesday.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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