A Travellerspoint blog

Thatcher & Columbus Park Bird Walks

Cook County, IL

semi-overcast 75 °F

This past weekend I led two successful bird walks: a Thatcher Woods bird walk for Oak Park Bird Walks, and a Columbus Park walk for the Chicago Ornithological Society.

At the Thatcher Woods walk we headed straight to the field north of Chicago Ave because the sunlit western edge of the field can be great for passerines in this early mornings. And that it was — SCARLET TANAGER in its nonbreeding outfit:
large_2DD772D4-6506-4549-8A2C-6239F208BB8B.jpeg

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
large_7F97D875-22DD-46AF-8159-8E9046C49A5E.jpeg

A NASHVILLE WARBLER gave nice low looks — the passerines were rather low due to cooler temps, as the bugs tend to be lower down then.
large_F1B6EB7B-37F1-4665-AB6C-F59A581B9DC3.jpeg

The weirdest SAVANAH SPARROW I’ve ever seen — this one had an affinity for perching in the tippy-tops of trees:
large_AC36BD74-FEAC-4F35-84A6-25E43F6C9220.jpeg

HOUSE WREN:
large_E2A3E615-176F-4229-AC1E-AF7A7AF8BAF2.jpeg

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
large_0A261641-6AF7-41E0-9330-693A1A7055AF.jpeg

It was a great walk! On sunday, I led a walk with Aerin Tedesco for the Chicago Ornithological Society at Columbus Park! It was nice to bird with a group of folks with whom I haven’t birded before (apart from Aerin). There were a number of passerines flitting around in the shrubs bordering the lagoon including this SWAMP SPARROW:
large_B5A19011-2C94-462E-AAEB-7D871AD9CF11.jpeg

And NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
large_DF7DC4B8-9346-4AB4-97C7-E8185880FAD2.jpeg

BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
large_BE8D6440-9AED-4346-B265-AB92CDE2D99B.jpeg

We got great looks at this RED-SHOULDERED HAWK which presumably is one of the residents at this park.
large_09370F25-2E78-4F13-9BCD-DF26E155BD15.jpeg

It even caught a squirrel and ate it!
large_DEFDB9AA-DBEC-4D4D-8E91-66ADC86352C8.jpeg

Another raptor present was this immature COOPER’S HAWK:
large_F9DC8B40-713B-4915-909B-B78C55BB886B.jpeg

My bird-of-the-day for sunday was this beautiful YELLOW-THROATED VIREO that gave the group some of the best looks I have ever seen. Cool!
large_9261C41C-E567-4C1C-B342-EC1B913830FC.jpeglarge_D6518DD5-24A9-4A62-AF7E-BACB41172799.jpeg

Stay tuned — I have another walk friday morning, and friday afternoon-saturday I’m headed to southern Illinois with Tian to do some herping at Snake Road, possibly look for some rare Rails and a Whooping Crane if it stays, and I will go on Colin Dobson’s pelagic at Lake Carlyle which always has the chance for Jaegers, Phalaropes, and Sabine’s Gulls. Fingers crossed!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1119 Species

Posted by skwclar 16:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

More Fall Fun!

Illinois & Indiana

sunny 75 °F

So, it has been yet another week of productive fall migration birding. A nice afternoon walk on tuesday yielded not only birds but butterflies such as this Eastern Black Swallowtail:
large_E49CDA07-203E-4EC2-BB88-542832EE4B3F.jpeg

American Painted Lady:
large_08B96792-2B5B-4821-9570-BE6379C50F1A.jpeg

And a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was a nice bird for the neighborhood:
large_242C4D2D-1130-4EC5-8E73-42E28BDDA72C.jpeg

On a wonderful Oak Park Bird Walk the following morning on wednesday, we saw many of the Gray-cheeked’s look-alike, the SWAINSON’S. Notice how much fuller this bird’s eyering is.
large_3763939F-E2C2-4120-B949-F467512F8F31.jpeg

RED-EYED VIREOS were passing through in numbers:
large_9E360983-3954-4223-BD9B-599AEA30E3DD.jpeglarge_AFB7364F-FD04-48BE-801E-3C89BF37E13C.jpeg

Several warblers showed themselves as well, including a male BLACK-THROATED BLUE at the end of the walk.

On thursday, the NNE winds were conducive to lake watching so Tian and I headed to Park 566 at Lake Shore Dr and 80th St, approximately. This is an undeveloped park that juts out into Lake Michigan and therefore has great birding and lake watching potential. View from the park:
large_486F35A3-EBC5-483A-A361-4E2C9E3C2A8B.jpeg

Many DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS winged their way past:
large_E478D3FA-56BB-4CE7-827D-317F6CDC3365.jpeg

CASPIAN TERN:
large_99795EEE-42E9-4CFA-910B-BC57BCDA5098.jpeg

The only slightly notable species out over the lake was a total of 8 BONAPARTE’S GULLS of which I only managed barely-identifiable photos.

On this chilly morning today, I was off to Cowles Bog in the Indiana Dunes where I guided Kim H for three hours. There was a great amount of bird activity around! On the path there was an EASTERN TOWHEE:
large_F9CDEA48-D16B-4AC8-BFCC-C0C29AD1E923.jpeg

NORTHERN FLICKER:
large_F4BD8406-E7FD-44D0-B3D2-5A2541961B1E.jpeg

LEAST FLYCATCHER:
large_9FF5BE49-3C96-436F-9EC0-58816508D869.jpeg

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
large_2F1573E2-FB62-436F-8D15-83780F1AC278.jpeg

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER:
large_11BC3177-A748-495D-8632-41DA303E30E0.jpeg

LINCOLN’S SPARROW:
large_DB353E6B-72DA-49B5-90DF-1E7F98D1E784.jpeg

This warbler gabe me a scare as it looked Black-throated Green-like, but I noticed the pretty dark auricular patch seen in the first photo. Then later I noticed in a photo I got of it flying away, it only appears to have white on the outer three tail feathers. Then again, all the extensive black on the throat...Within the range for BTNW, or is there a possible hybrid situation here? A recent presumed hybrid TOWA X BTNW appeared in the Chicago area, looking very much like this bird. TBD! An exciting find when you can’t immediately ID.
large_780731AA-F766-4416-9527-B69861007BE2.jpeg
large_6ACF3428-5BD1-46E5-A934-FA8FC967747F.jpeg

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, my first of the season:
large_57E73CB0-0B52-47F8-8169-B79264303A47.jpeg

BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
large_4F3F4C97-F2C0-465F-80D7-A4F56CF0F3D6.jpeg

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD poofing up due to the cool temps!
large_CE303BBF-F2EB-4C90-B116-06EAB68A0627.jpeg

EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
large_EEBD454D-6B72-4214-839B-A1DD755A3E95.jpeg

CEDAR WAXWING:
large_BEADCFB2-A652-4A16-85A1-A05C8ED9704C.jpeg

Another nice surprise was this early GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, wasn’t expecting this for a couple more weeks!
large_FFFE3037-F993-48E7-9DFD-6B7BA48460C9.jpeg

RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were active today, calling and flying through:
large_8E2EE028-2DD2-4069-A0DA-CB4B090290FD.jpeg

A migrating NORTHERN HARRIER flew over, too:
large_45385DE4-BB97-49EA-85E2-8FA2B8971F45.jpeg

SANDHILL CRANE:
large_CE18F6C3-BFA4-4312-8190-0366905CC0A1.jpeg

Back in the trees over the parking lane was an absolute stunner of a bird: PHILADELPHIA VIREO, definitely one of my favorite migrants!
large_362A84E7-F788-42F7-98E6-2C1BE0431FBD.jpeglarge_896F7BAB-5152-405D-8F48-2318069D5F38.jpeglarge_560C5010-6634-4D10-B4FE-59049E377188.jpeg

GREAT BLUE HERON:
large_D2B9C283-412B-4E5A-860A-F3AD5FB88F2C.jpeg

Ended the tour this morning with 63 species, a super enjoyable walk. Bird-of-the-day to the early Golden-crowned Kinglet & Philadelphia Vireo with runner-up to the TBD warbler, always fun when that happens! Stay tuned: I am leading two more bird walks this weekend, during what should be the peak of warbler migration here!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1119 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:27 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Lake watching...from the other side!

Benton Harbor, MI

overcast 65 °F

Today my mom was playing in a chamber music concert in St Joseph, MI so I tagged along in order to try out some lake-watching from the other side of the lake. As well as more common species like Forster’s Terns & Bonaparte’s Gulls, rarities are always possible like Parasitic & Long-tailed Jaeger, or Sabine’s & Little Gulls.

I was birding Tiscornia Park on the Benton Harbor side by about 3:45pm to keep a keen eye on anything interesting that may have been winging its way south along the Michigan side of the lake. The usual suspects were around like this young HERRING GULL:
large_7BEC6699-3023-4D92-93D9-B434BE2C3A6E.jpeg

I immediately noticed a good number of Sterna species terns (so, Forster’s and Common) flying by. Here are FORSTER’S, told by their long tails, pale undersides, silvery primaries, and, in this basic plumage, a single black patch just behind the eye.
large_19276B9C-AD1F-486C-9AD0-9B0BE17FF916.jpeglarge_2BAA92F9-C146-4A44-B4E8-674709F3B2BA.jpeg

SANDERLINGS were the only shorebird present today and they were in good numbers:
large_C752B9B2-872B-41B7-A3C4-01AD031E08DC.jpeglarge_A1AC67B3-7465-4E85-9E66-AC4E59909C24.jpeg

A few BONAPARTE’S GULLS loafed about with the more common species for a while:
large_5BA14D6E-4B67-4C8B-87C1-1679F1460F66.jpeglarge_41840137-47CC-47F2-8D12-BBCB5F27436F.jpeglarge_1B68BF9B-1C5F-4B9B-B05F-C191C102A283.jpeg

The other Sterna species was also present, in smaller numbers than the Forster’s: COMMON TERNS, told specifically in this case by their black (as opposed to silvery) primaries. The basic plumage is also slightly different with, instead of a black spot behind the eye, a black “hood” around the back of the head.
large_8D9B79BA-4421-490C-965B-CF7C44698A9B.jpeg

The two types roosted together, providing nice side-by-side comparison of two easily-confused species. Only some of the Commons were left in alternate (breeding) plumage) with a full black cap, with the rest of the birds being a mixture of Common and Forster’s in basic (nonbreeding plumage). See if you can tell the difference between the black patch of the Forster’s and the black hood of the Common. Personally, I think the nonbreeding Forster’s is a more sleek, elegant-looking bird.
large_F6371F3A-E30C-4976-97F0-6B2A04D1CADB.jpeglarge_2F0FCF39-3FF2-4315-BBC1-651B9191F18A.jpeg

One of my favorite mammals, the Thirteen-lined Ground-Squirrel was there to greet me in the dunes — cool!
large_C2D5EA02-2076-4016-9A45-FDCF34A0E8AE.jpeg

Nothing unexpected today, but certainly nice to get a change from putting around Chicago. Bird-of-the-day to the Common & Forster’s Terns since today was some great practice in differentiating these two similar species.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1119 Species

Posted by skwclar 22:08 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Gillson Park with the gf

Wilmette, IL

semi-overcast 61 °F

Today Tian and I headed to Gillson Park in Wilmette, IL to do some lakewatching because of recent reports of Parasitic Jaegers (a would-be sophomore bird for me) and Little Gulls (a would-be life bird for me) in the overall area recently. It was a day with blustery north-northeast winds which would mean that any migrating seabirds would be pushed westward toward the lakefront, so perfect conditions for observing migration.

We arrived shortly before one and almost immediately I spotted a bulky bird chasing a RING-BILLED GULL very far out over the lake. It is the far birds that one must watch for since usually they will be the ones that turn out to be Jaegers, Kittiwakes, etc as opposed to the commoner gulls that congregare closer to shore. Indeed, this bird was bulky, dark, had white flashes underneath the wings, a slightly lighter underside, and was the same size as the Ring-billed Gull which it was chasing which means it could only be one thing: PARASITIC JAEGER!!!!! The other Jaegers are either smaller (Long-tailed) or larger than Ring-billed Gulls (Pomarine). Unfortunately I got distracted and lost the bird after only this very shitty photo which shows the Ring-billed on the bottom and the Jaeger (in hot pursuit of the gull, presumably because the gull had food the Jaeger wanted) on top. Lesson learned: don’t get distracted while viewing a Jaeger, EVER!
large_F6B689E5-DB9B-447B-80D2-88A371DF5F58.jpeg

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were many in numbers:
large_DC2D39AF-F83E-4444-97B7-D9EA5FF0F21A.jpeg

A first-year HERRING GULL presided over the smaller RING-BILLED GULLS on the beach:
large_3986EB6D-171E-4EB4-9B48-8C37DAE882AE.jpeg

A beautifully-patterned BONAPARTE’S GULL flew by at one point, a new bird for my Cook County list this year!
large_46FCFCBA-E0E3-4FAB-88DD-34A386831AFB.jpeg

And another highlight was a pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL that flew by — quite uncommon for this early in the autumn. These are slender ducks with brownish cheeks, white trailing edges to the wings, and noticeable tail extensions — no other duck this time of year looks like this in flight.
large_725A4E65-DFE3-40FE-9EF1-A3D69F0610E0.jpeg

So for sitting for two hours, it was maybe a smidge slow, but the Jaeger was an obvious highlight of the day. Any day with a Jaeger, especially if you’re not even on a pelagic, is a great day!

Stay tuned: tomorrow I will be lake-watching from the other side of Lake Michigan: St. Joseph/Benton Harbor!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1119 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Migration birding + herping continue!

Cook County, IL

all seasons in one day 81 °F

Last week I visited Montrose with Isoo & Nathan G and we birded for a solid couple hours in hopes of racking up shorebirds, passerines, and anything weird that might happen to show up. As usual we started on the beach where we had SEMIPALMATED PLOVER:
large_937ADC30-1DE2-4472-85E7-9B157DC97B2C.jpeg

SANDERLING with a Semipalm:
large_F1D4F43C-7542-474E-839B-956E1B60BF0E.jpeg

The star shorebird of the day was a nice AMERICAN AVOCET that decided to park itself on the protected beach. A good bird for Cook County!
large_953D01DE-827D-4895-B57B-AFB405654337.jpeg

Since the beach wasn’t particularly birdy, we headed to the Magic Hedge to look for passerines and found a Traill’s (either Willow or Alder) Flycatcher:
large_C4B15959-68AD-42BD-8A9B-2B5DCD5850DA.jpeg

Warblers (in their drab fall plumages) showed in pretty good numbers including BLACK-AND-WHITE:
large_B21DD365-820F-4658-AC70-6FC0CF3627A2.jpeg

MAGNOLIA:
large_22D21145-E0F6-4F61-80BE-9ABD644DF25F.jpeg

TENNESSEE:
large_A55DBEF4-6869-4CE4-8519-5850B0655417.jpeg

CHESTNUT-SIDED with a grub for breakfast:
large_07DD7903-5C92-49DB-8E84-BBFC0719D4FD.jpeg

GOLDEN-WINGED, cool!!!
large_9F47C904-676D-47E0-8C78-E6665B136AD0.jpeg

A Monarch showed off his beautiful bright colors.
large_768AE2F2-57D6-4793-B0B5-C8C77D2F5296.jpeg

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER:
large_75536CCB-6559-413B-843E-F7EA9C29666D.jpeg

BLACKPOLL, separated from the look-alike Bay-breasted because of its faint chest striping:
large_4092232E-31C3-422C-A37A-750B34FBE0AD.jpeg

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
large_18E56D28-FCEE-4B2E-9BB1-150A5043D326.jpeg

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, my first of the season! Separated from the Swainson’s by its incomplete eye ring and more grayish face.
large_E883DF50-8640-4D93-B16D-EBDD36451D7F.jpeg

My first PURPLE FINCH of the whole year, a brown female:
large_FA41C02B-7BBD-497F-B6FB-1FE68D137D8B.jpeg

Bird-of-the-day that day to the American Avocet with runner-up to the Golden-winged Warbler & Purple Finch, not too shabby.

Another Oak Park Bird Walk a few days later was quiet with only a few birds such as these SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
large_3F99289C-E53B-4165-8C59-5938A27277A1.jpeglarge_B31CDCA0-E449-49E5-8671-A53EC1A481EA.jpeg

And a flyover BROAD-WINGED HAWK was quite nice, my bird-of-the-day for saturday!
large_C4CD776B-E0C9-4B0C-B95C-066ADD280E9D.jpeg

Yesterday I went to the Palos area for more herping for Simon, Peter, & Andrea Tolzmann. We were hoping for a Tiger Salamander (they had seen one at that same location last week), but would really take whatever we would get. Unisexual Mole Salamander (the top, darker herp) with two Blue-spotted Salamanders:
large_364FDD32-7627-4F24-9C67-79C4AD08B17C.jpeg

We had a number of flips, particularly in the dried-up streambeds, with multiple species of salamanders underneath such as this one with 3 Blue-spotteds and an Eastern Newt.
large_BDBB9275-7D24-4882-BCB9-4DD9CE30998C.jpeg

Soon, we were racking up the # of salamanders with over 30!!!!! This flip yielded one giant Unisexual Mole, 2 Spotted Salamanders, & 2 Eastern Newts. Ridiculous! Take into account that this is probably the ONLY location in Cook County where it is physically possible to get these three species together given the rarity of Spotteds and Newts — incredible!
large_F2057D0E-6DFE-468A-8BB7-71A8004AF234.jpeg

Yeah, several Spotteds certainly put on a beautiful show for us.
large_C7811F56-010A-4603-8929-A0A19EB6ABCE.jpeglarge_3A8BC254-9A55-4B24-AF2E-87A2C4998416.jpeglarge_FD6896AD-32CF-43A8-88F9-092209B96891.jpeg

In yesterday’s sun, salamanders weren’t the only herps we found — here is an Eastern Garter Snake of the Chicago subspecies! It struck multiple times — good thing I was wearing gloves, even though it was tiny.
large_392EC652-A985-4F97-BF72-013578DA04A1.jpeg

A lifer herp for all of us was this Spring Peeper frog! Amazing! It was like a tiny bright little creature hopping quickly through a vernal pool upon which we happened to stumble. Luckily Peter caught it for photos.
large_981549E7-5F67-462C-A89A-69D2DF6519AC.jpeg

Another beautiful eft-phase Eastern Newt.
large_2CD0F56C-F050-4595-84C7-F2837DA95CC7.jpeg

This was the star of the day. We thought it to be my lifer Tiger Salamander until today when we realized it was something even rarer: a hybrid Blue-spotted X Tiger Salamander! This was a COOL herp to find — it goes to show that the diversity of salamanders at our location yesterday is just insane. I hope the many illegal herp poachers out there never find this location, because we counted 87 SALAMANDERS IN ONE AFTERNOON!!! (that is why I will never post precise herp locations online)
large_ED3BEBE7-9DB2-4BC9-8EA5-44DDC89C96DE.jpeglarge_9ABEF0DF-A94A-4D7B-BEE8-5885177E710D.jpeg

Anyway, it’s been yet another great week of birding and herping. I have many more things lined up for this month including continuing bird walks, a daytrip to Carlyle Reservoir in southern Illinois for pelagics, and a big sit competition with my friends at Montrose. Stay tuned!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1119 Species

Posted by skwclar 15:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 36 - 40 of 716) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 .. »