eBird Bar Charts by Season
Tips for birding Conneaut Sandspit
The harbor of Conneaut is one of Lake Erie’s legendary birding hotspots. Scores of rarities have been found here over the years, and good numbers and diversity of more common migrants routinely occur. The area is a good place to see shorebirds in spring, summer and early fall.
During peak season, it’s best to get there before 9 a.m. because the beach fills with sunbathers and picnickers, some of whom disturb the birds. However, late summer and early fall, when the weather is not conducive to sunning, is much better for observing migrating species.
The most productive birding is probably from mid-summer until early winter, with the first southbound shorebirds kicking off the parade. By early July, plovers and sandpipers are already appearing. This may be the best spot on Lake Erie to catch up with a Whimbrel. In addition, since there are no obstructions, this is a great place to see migrating species passing through by just looking up. Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, White-rumped Sandpipers etc. have been seen passing through.
As fall rolls into winter, large numbers of gulls can concentrate in the harbor, and rare species often are found within these flocks. Many species have been observed, including scores of Boneparte’s Gulls with sightings of Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Conneaut also attracts lots of ducks of many species. Snowy Owls turn up in many winters, and can be seen perched on rock breakwalls around the harbor. Watch for Snow Buntings around the parking lots.
In Fall 2011, a wildlife watching tower was erected at the edge of the sandspit overlooking the lake and marsh area.
The list of rare birds is lengthy, and includes Brant, both Brown and American White Pelicans, Piping Plover, Red Phalarope, Purple Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, California Gull, at least two jaeger species, and Le Conte’s Sparrow. Almost anything can drop into Conneaut Harbor, and the long list of rarities is sure to grow in coming years.
Conneaut Township Park. A 60-acre site just west of Conneaut Harbor, on the north side of OH-531. Good numbers of migrant songbirds can be found in the park’s trees, and this site can be excellent for hawk-watching in March and April.
Take I-90 east to Exit 241 (OH-7 North). Follow OH-7 north for 2 miles until you reach State St. Turn right onto State St until you reach Broad St (third intersection). Turn left (north) here and follow Broad Street to the lake. Once you drive down the hill into the marina, turn left and follow this road until you reach a sandy road at the end which will take you to the sand spit.
Open daily, dawn until dusk.
Parking at the Marina, with a few spots along the waters leading into the beach area. Cars can drive out onto the sandspit at your own risk. During certain rainy times cars have been known to get stuck in the sand – just use caution and common sense.
From Ohio Ornithological Society
Birds of Interest by Season
Snowy Owl, Glaucous Gull, Little Gull.
Black-bellied Plover, American Pipit.
Bank Swallow, migrating Stilt Sandpiper.
Shorebirds including American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, and if you’re lucky Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
About Conneaut Sandspit
The sandspit is accessed from the parking area in Conneaut Township Park. Vehicles do drive out onto the sandspit here if conditions allow. There is an observation tower on the sandspit.
The nearly 60-acre Conneaut Township Park is on land north of OH-531 (Lake Road) from the Fairview Drive intersection east to Wrights Avenue. The park has numerous parking lots including lots off of the Chestnut Street Extension, and Grove Street’s north terminus which loops the southeast corner of the park.
About half of Conneaut Township Park’s acres are comprised of sand that has collected on the west side of Conneaut Harbor’s west breakwater. The harbor’s 0.3-mile long southern breakwater marks the east side of the beach. Sand covers all but the northern 600 feet of the breakwater, which is used for fishing access.
Extending west from this structure is the park’s 0.4-mile long foot-friendly sand beach. It ranges in width from more than 1,000 feet along the east side to around 200-feet wide at the park’s west end. A series of wooden boardwalks, collectively called the Conneaut Township Park Boardwalk, connect parking areas to the beach and shore.
The mouth of a small Lake Erie tributary crosses the middle of the beach. A wooden footbridge crosses the tributary. The beach also includes a small dune area.
In the upper park area, benches overlooking Lake Erie from atop a, tiered, grass-covered high bluff provide views of the harbor and Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse. Many additional park amenities are located in the upper park area including picnic facilities, playground equipment, a concession stand, athletic fields and courts and a gazebo.
Restrooms located at the marina parking lot just before the road out to the sandspit.