A Travellerspoint blog

A long day: Montrose, Evanston, and the Botanic Garden

Cook County, IL

overcast 42 °F

Today I hit several spots in Cook County: Montrose Point for anything random that might be there, Evanston for White-winged Crossbill, and the Chicago Botanic Garden for Common Redpoll and others.

I arrived at Montrose to find the continuing SURF SCOTER with the local Mergansers! Cool. Thanks to Josh E for pointing out.

Over by the fishhook pier there was a continuing GADWALL:

I had a few duck flocks fly past the pier including GREATER SCAUP — distinguished from similar members of their Aythya genus in flight by the thick white band that extends far along the trailing edge of their wings.

Another “Aythya” duck, the REDHEAD. These genus includes this species, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, and various other species:

Well this bird certainly gave me a start. Have you ever seen such a golden crown on a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW? Well, I hadn’t until today — my friends informed me that this is within the range of normal for juvenile White-crowned (I’m assuming as the strip of the crown color transitions from a pale brownish color to white.

Next stop was Evanston where I came up empty at the feeder reporting a White-winged Crossbill yesterday. Darn! Would’ve been a nice year bird for Illinois, but it was sweet to get them in the Black Hills this past summer.

So, Isoo convinced me to follow through with my original plan to head up to the Chicago Botanic Garden as he had just had a group of 15 Crossbills there, as well as a good candidate for a Hoary Redpoll which would be a lifer for me if found! I bought a timed entry ticket for 11am and managed to get in a couple minutes early. I met Isoo as he was leaving and he pointed me in the direction of the redpolls. He wasn’t 100% on his bird but he said he got some pretty solid fieldmarks like unstreaked undertail which strongly leans Hoary as opposed to Common. The problem for me though, is that this time of year, there are DOZENS of redpolls to pick through to find that one Hoary!

GREAT BLUE HERON on the way to the Redpoll location.


Yep, finches were around — here is a PINE SISKIN:

More siskins bathing with goldfinches:

COMMON REDPOLL was a sweet year bird for me but I was definitely on the prowl for its rarer cousin, the Hoary. I counted about 65 Commons here, a pretty nice number for november.

I spent the next two hours chasing this huge flock of Commons, trying to check all of the paler-looking birds. It was pretty hopeless considering horrible overcast lighting and the flock kept flying all over the place.

A solid candidate for Hoary — thoughts? The undertail looks extremely clean from this perspective and this bird is awfully pale...

Super fat squirrel munching away...

After two and a half hours, I gave up and walked out. PIED-BILLED GREBE on the way out:

Feeling rather defeated and frustrated, I drove home...if only I had just gone straight to the Garden with Isoo this morning...

Alas, when I got home, I picked through my photos further, and BOOM! I had a super frosty redpoll with no undertail streaking and a white rump: textbook HOARY REDPOLL!!!!!! This was THE classic example of having such bad lighting in the field it was impossible to ID without reviewing and lightening up photos. So there I had it, a lifer discovered after I was done birding! Crazy.

Bird-of-the-day to the Hoary Redpoll, with runner-up to the 65 Commons. A Redpoll kinda day!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1123 Species (1 life bird today: Hoary Redpoll)

Posted by skwclar 20:31 Archived in USA

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