Lake Erie Bluffs Metropark (Cleveland Loop)
Lake Erie Bluffs is the newest public access site along the Lake Erie Birding Trail. Lake Metroparks opened this 139- acre site to the public in June 2012. The lake frontage encompassed by the park was the largest remaining undeveloped parcel of Lake Erie shoreline property in Lake County. The park includes about 1,300 feet of rocky beach accessible by trail. There is a strong likelihood that neighboring parcels of land will be added to the Metropark in the near future, increasing its size to as much as 600 acres.
7 - Lake Erie Bluffs Metropark
2901 Clark Road
Painesville and Perry townships Lake County, OH 44081
Open daily, 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Hiking Trails, Restrooms, Picnic Area
From U.S. Rte. 20 (North Ridge Rd.) in Perry Township, take Perry Park Rd. north to Clark Rd., and turn left (west). The park entrance is about one half mile on the right (north).
What to Look For
Much of the site was logged in recent years, and is now at a brushy stage of ecological succession. These shrublands provide habitat for locally uncommon breeders such as Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler. Other rare breeders for this region include Mourning Warbler and Wilson’s Snipe. Major movements of songbirds can occur along the lakefront. Warblers and sparrows can be especially rich in May and September and October. In years of winter finch irruptions, mass flights can be tallied at Lake Erie Bluffs, such as a 2012 record of 800 Common Redpolls in a single morning. There is an overlook offering a commanding view of Lake Erie, and jaegers, scoters, and many gull species have been spotted from this point.
This park can be an excellent place to seek rare migratory dragonflies and butterflies. Striped saddlebags (dragonfly) have turned up, and Ohio’s second record of common ringlet (butterfly) was documented here. Other southern immigrant butterflies include cloudless and dainty sulphurs, and southern dogface. The rare twelvespotted tiger beetle has also been found in the area. The bluffs along Lake Erie support a vigorous population of fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita).
About the Cleveland Loop
The Cleveland region—Cuyahoga and Lake counties—is by far the most populous area along Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline. It also harbors the most birders, and as a consequence the bird life of the Cleveland vicinity is better known than probably anywhere else in Ohio. Birding is good at all seasons, and records of exciting rarities abound.
This loop is the most populous region on the trail, as the city of Cleveland and neighboring areas are the most developed locales on Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline. There are more sites on the Cleveland Area Loop – 28 – than any other loop. Every type of habitat found along the lake occurs on this loop, and some of the sites are among the most famous birding hotspots in the Midwest. The total species list for this loop is 356, and a remarkable 12 of those have only been recorded in this region.
What to Look For
The centerpiece of this loop is the city of Cleveland. The Greater Cleveland area is the largest metropolitan region in Ohio, with a population over two million. There are probably more active birders here than anywhere else in the state and as a consequence this loop's bird list is large and spectacular.
Many of the sites along this loop offer outstanding birding opportunities during spring migration, and a number of these same sites support a great diversity of breeding birds. Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve is a standout among migratory hotspots, and boasts one of the largest bird lists of any single site in Ohio.
The greatest sheer numbers of birds occur in fall migration. Lakeside spots such as Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve draw in scads of songbirds: warblers, thrushes, sparrows, and many others. As fall merges into winter, tremendous numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls and Red-breasted Mergansers build up, especially along the downtown Cleveland lakefront.
Even winter has its charms. Eighteen species of gulls have been found, which puts the Cleveland region near the forefront of North America's best gull-watching locales. Joining the gulls are a wide variety of hardy waterfowl, including scoters, Long-tailed Duck, and the occasional King Eider.
At least nine species of birds have been found in the Cleveland region, but nowhere else in Ohio. Some of the mega-rarities include: Common Eider, Ivory Gull, Ross's Gull, Black Guillemot, Common Ground-Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, Boreal Owl, Rock Wren, and Painted Redstart. Some of the sites on this loop are great places to look for rare species such as Purple Sandpiper and Red Phalarope.
Ohio's best remaining natural beach community is found at Headland's Dunes State Nature Preserve. Many rare plants occur there, such as Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus), American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), and Seaside Spurge (Chamaesyce polygonifolia). Fantastic concentrations of Monarch butterflies can gather at lakefront sites in fall migration. Cuyahoga Valley National Park and The Holden Arboretum, in particular, support a staggering array of botanical diversity across a broad range of habitats.
2901 Clark Road, Perry, OH 44081