Sunday, February 24, 2013

Migration's Beginnings

Hi all,

I write this blog post about this whirlwind of a weekend with the Oscars playing in the background. Reflecting back on this weekend, much has happened. Great birds were seen and great stories were lived. But before anything of that is told, I will go over last weekend.

We started at Spring Valley to look for White-winged Crossbill. We dipped on that, but we got a bonus Yellow-rumped Warbler.

99. Yellow-rumped Warbler

We then went to the Calumet area, where the highlight was at 126th St Marsh.

100(!!). Snow Goose

We went to the Gull Frolic at North Point Marina in Lake County and had many good birds. Some are pictured below.

We decided to go to Crabtree Nature Center which had a White-winged Crossbill at it the day before. No dice there, but when we went to Penny Road Pond, we not only found my yearbird Eastern Bluebird, but we found a great hawk watching spot where we saw a Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, and a multitude of Red-tails. This spot will be revisited later in the year.

101. Eastern Bluebird

After that we went to Susan Szeszol's house because she has been having Eurasian Collared Doves recently. We struck out, but she just told me today she briefly had one, so I might go back for them soon.

Today, we had a quick jaunt into Calumet with Nathan Goldberg. It was unsuccessful. We then went back to the crossbill as it was relocated. After 20 minutes or so, it appeared at the feeder at closing time for the nature center. The feeders there are very active as they also had Fox Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, and a Brown Creeper was hanging around them too.

102. White-winged Crossbill

So back to this weekend.

This day was focused around an Illinois Young Birders trip to Bartel Grassland in southern Cook County. We also decided to look for Greater White-fronted Goose which has been showing up near Cook County. We wanted to scavenge each little body of water for any geese or ducks we could find. At 2, we then would go over to Bartel Grasslands for the ILYB field trip. We started our search to a slow start. Everything was frozen or inaccessible. We eventually found an open and accessible pond and in it was a White-winged Scoter and Snow Goose!

We then found another pond in close proximity to that one that held another two White-winged Scoters! It also had 8 Canvasbacks.

A while later, we drove by some mall ponds, one of which held 200 Canada Geese and 2 blue-morph Snow Geese. While driving closer to them, we got stuck in a deep spot in the snow. After a while, we pushed ourselves out. Crisis averted.

 Right after, we found another pond that held 600+ geese but all were Canada. We then went to Bartel where we got a Great-horned Owl and a few Harriers. We looked for the geese again but were unsuccessful. We returned at sunset and found 3 Short-eared Owls.

A Savannah Sparrow was spotted by Matt Cvetas and my brother managed to determine the blackbird flocks consisted of both Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

103. Savannah Sparrow
104. Brown-headed Cowbird

As we were leaving, I called Matt Cvetas and he told me that they found a Barred Owl in a place given to him by Wes Serafin. When we got there, we immediately got the owl.

105. Barred Owl

For those who don't know, it is illegal to stay in Cook County Forest Preserves after dark. We did, and a policeman stopped by and gave us $35 tickets. The lot was still open, but whatever. Still got the owl.

Today, we thought we would take it easy and just bird the parks we monitor. Columbus Park didn't have many birds, but the Coyotes cooperated well.

We then went to Douglas Park, which was highlighted by the singing Red-winged Blackbirds and the long staying Red-shouldered Hawk. The hawk finally cooperated and it gave me decent photo-ops.

While we were leaving Douglas, we got a call from Brett and Eddie Kasper, fellow young birders. They told us that they had a Greater White-fronted Goose at Northerly Island. They also said it had a broken wing. We rushed over and saw the bird. We called Flint Creek Wildlife Rehab Center and they came and picked it up. Read more about the goose and see photos here:

106. Greater White-fronted Goose

My next blog post will probably be next weekend. See you then!

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