A Travellerspoint blog

Racking up year birds with Tian

Cook County, IL

semi-overcast 22 °F

Today I once again headed to South Chicago & Calumet in search of year birds — some I had in mind were: Glaucous & Great Black-backed Gull, Peregrine Falcon, Rough-legged Hawk, White-winged Scoter, and even Red-winged Blackbird (lol!). We started at Rainbow Beach where it was evident how frozen-over Lake Michigan has quickly become following the snowstorm and subsequent days below zero.

A small patch of open water held the common winter ducks like BUFFLEHEAD:


Scaup and REDHEAD:

Scaup and more Mergs:

Unfortunately I dipped on a Glaucous Gull reported here earlier which would have been a sweet year bird. So we continued on to Steelworkers Park where the gull activity was much higher — there was a much larger area of open water in front of the breakwall here which allowed for more of a gull congregation. I picked through the countless Ring-billed and Herring, which can be annoying, and ended up finding this oddball. Yep, a bill and head like a perfect breeding Lesser Black-backed, but too pale of a mantle — I posted this bird to “North American Gulls” and gull expert Amar A told me this resembled the hybrid GREAT BLACK-BACKED X HERRING GULLS he has seen in this part of Chicago before. Quite a cool sighting and evidence of the common hybridization of gulls (we have it easy — MOST gulls in areas of the West Coast are hybrids of some form!).

Then, I spotted one of my targets for the day — WHITE-WINGED SCOTER! Sick! Year bird and definitely one of my favorite ducks, it is just such a unique-looking bird.

And BOOM! Another year bird after one final scan of the gull flock in the form of an adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL! My first one in Illinois in a couple years (they are expected winter visitors, I just haven’t gotten out enough in recent years, lol).

Here it is showing its pink legs — this, along with its larger size, differentiates it from Lesser Black-backed Gull.

And can’t forget about the pretty COMMOM GOLDENEYE:

Next stop, Wolf Lake in case any Tundra Swans or anything else unexpected would be hanging out with the waterfowl. Nothing completely unusual — just the resident MUTE SWANS:

And hundreds of REDHEAD:

And a chilly but happy Tian!

Indian Ridge Marsh was quiet but there was a lone GREAT BLUE HERON attempting to ice-fish.

Turning Basin #5 was also dead but a male BELTED KINGFISHER was nice to see:

We didn’t stop for long at Big Marsh but did have this nice RED-SHOULDERED HAWK alongside the road, a very decent bird for the winter.

And thanks to my friend Isoo he gave me directions to distant viewing of a GREAT HORNED OWL nest which was suuuper cool for Tian and I to see. A great ending to a sweet day!

Bird-of-the-day to the White-winged Scoter with runners-up to the Great Black-backed and the Great Black-backed X Herring Gull. Good stuff!

World Life List: 1123 Species

Posted by skwclar 06:46 Archived in USA

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Great to see the White Winged Scoter especially but all gulls interesting

by Mary Mc

thankyou verymuch thosetwo ha ha the r s hawk and that ice fishing were tops

by stephen fluett

Thank you Mary!!! Yes agreed — Scoters are some of my favorites.

by skwclar

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