BY SHERI TRUSTY
Meredith Meyer of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has a long history with Lakeside Chautauqua and a short history with birding. In the brief time she has been searching for warblers and owls and woodpeckers, she has developed a passion that will likely last the rest of her life. Now, she is excited to return to her Lakeside cottage during the Biggest Week in American Birding on May 5-14, where she will spend her days at local birding hot spots and her evenings attending Lakeside bird programs.
“I took up birding about three years ago. I’m a COVID birder. My eyes were opened to all the beautiful birds migrating through our area,” Meyer said. “I bought a camera and started taking pictures of birds in my yard. That led to birding at local parks and Metroparks. Then I took my camera to Lakeside and discovered all the birds in the Lakeside area.”
For the first time in many years, Lakeside will offer birding events during the Biggest Week. Each evening from May 8 to May 13, a series of free films and lectures will be offered at Orchestra Hall at 7 p.m.
They include the documentary, “Birders: The Central Park Effect” on Monday, May 8; an “Owls of Ohio” lecture by Jim Tomko on Tuesday, May 9; “Warbler Warm Up” lecture by Matt Valencic and Kelly Stanek on Wednesday, May 10; a lecture on “Mammals of Ohio” by John Harder on Thursday, May 11; a lecture on “Gardening for Moths” by Chelsea Gottfried on Friday. May 12; and the movie “The Big Year,” a rare birding comedy starring Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, on Saturday, May 13.
Martyn and Morgan Drabik-Hamshare will lead a Bird Walk beginning at the Train Station at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 13. For more information on birding events at Lakeside, visit www.lakesideohio.com.
Because the Biggest Week occurs prior to the opening of Lakeside’s summer season, entrance is free. The public is invited to attend the free birding events and enjoy all of the amenities of Lakeside.
“There are no gate fees, no parking fees, and no preregistration required,” said Lakeside’s Vice President of Programming Jeannie Fleming-Gifford. “If you’re a lover of birds and curious about Lakeside, you can get a taste of what we do during the core season.
Many of our shops and restaurants will be open, the pickleball nets will be up, the gaga pit will be open, and guests can play basketball and volleyball.”
From May 6-15, Lakeside’s Fountain Inn is offering a special hotel rate of $119/night for standard rooms plus a special one-half off the third night. For reservations, call 419-798-4461, ext. 230 and ask for the birding discount.
Lakeside is centrally located between many birding hotspots, including Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area to the west and Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve and Pipe Creek Wildlife Area to the east.
“This is a great opportunity, without the gate fee, to experience Lakeside and Lakeside programming. It’s a walkable community, it’s right on Lake Erie, it has shopping and restaurants, and everyone is so friendly,” Meyer said. “Lakeside is a really good centrally-located place to stay during birding week because of its proximity to East Harbor State Park and Meadowbrook Marsh and many other birding hotspots.”
Meyer’s family has enjoyed cottage life at Lakeside for decades. She is excited to pair her connection to the community with her passion for birding.
“There are many things I love about Lakeside, and I’m looking forward to birding during the day and attending programming at night,” she said. “There are so many birds that migrate through. I think it will open people’s eyes to birds they don’t realize are all around.”