Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Sought After Treasures

Hi all,

I haven't posted for a while, so I will catch everyone up. Last weekend, we birded the same areas as earlier this year and found a few new birds, but nothing too exciting.


We went to the Calumet area for shrike and gulls. We missed both but did get:

87. Snow Bunting

I also got a great shot of a Bald Eagle:


We went back to the Calumet area with the same targets. This time though, I didn't get any yearbirds. I wanted to revisit the Varied Thrush, so we headed back there after we were done at Calumet. We got a bonus Red-breasted Nuthatch, and the thrush showed well.

88. Red-breasted Nuthatch

My thrush photos:

This weekend was amazing! I finally cashed in at Calumet, and big time!


We decided to go on a trip led by Sam Burckhardt and Walter Marcisz through the Calumet area. We started at Wolf Lake, where the highlight was a Tundra Swan spotted by Fran Morel. We then moved on to 126th St. Marsh. From there, we were able to see the Calumet River, which was packed with gulls. One of the first gulls I put my scope on was a "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull. It is always nice for me to find my own yearbirds. We also managed to pick out 2 Thayer's Gulls out of the fray.

89. "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull

We then headed over to Deadstick Pond. On the way, we were passing through an area where Walter found a Rough-legged Hawk the previous day. When we got there, a hawk was perched in a tree. The caravan pulled over and stopped to see that it was just a Red-tailed. People started to pull away, as Red-tails are a dime a dozen around here. Just as we were about to leave, a small bird flew into the tree just above the hawk. After a second of disbelief, I yelled out, "SHRIKE!!!!" We tried to get the people that already pulled away to come back, but to no avail. We saw that the people behind us saw the shrike too. We got out of our car just in time to see it chase away the Red-tail. It then perched on a shrub and I got our scope out. I looked at it for 30 seconds, then it flew away, never to be seen again. This was the seventh time I tried for shrike this year, and I got it when I least expected it!

90. Northern Shrike

Just as we were going to pull away, we saw Craig Taylor and he told us of White-winged Scoters at Deadstick Pond. We zipped over there just in time to see a Bald Eagle flush everything. Ugh. We couldn't see the scoters. When the gulls started landing, Ethan got a text from Jeff Hardt that there was Red Crossbills at Little Red Schoolhouse. The group arrived just as we were leaving, but we decided to stay a little longer. This rewarded me with 2 more "Kumlien's" Iceland Gulls, 2 more Thayer's Gulls, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Some people in the group saw the scoters but they swam behind a barge and weren't visible by the time I got to the vantage point. It was made up for, though, by the presence of two yearbirds.

91. Peregrine Falcon
92. Horned Lark

We then split from the group and headed to the schoolhouse. When we got there, we saw Jeff and he didn't have the crossbills anymore, but he did show us Purple Finches. Other highlights there were Tufted Titmouse and Fox Sparrow.

93. Purple Finch

Some of the Tufted Titmouse:

And some feisty sparrows

And a solo American Tree Sparrow

We then decided to go back to Calumet for the scoters. When we got to Deadstick, we quickly found them. We didn't stay to look at the gulls.

94. White-winged Scoter

We then went to 126th St. Marsh again and picked out 2 Glaucous Gulls and a Thayer's. Walter recommended some feeders near 126th St. Marsh and we got some Red-wings there.

95. Red-winged Blackbird

After a brief jaunt into Indiana, we went to Calumet Park, and came up empty handed, but it didn't really matter because of the amazing day we just had.


The morning started rainy. We wanted to go back to Calumet as we figured that this would be the best time for me to get a Great Black-backed Gull. We went to Deadstick first. It was raining so I didn't take my camera out of the car. The gull numbers increased drastically from the previous day. Same with waterfowl numbers. We were able to pull out the scoters almost immediately. I then found a Lesser Black-backed Gull in the water. Ethan found a dark-mantled gull at the far end of the flock. He thought it looked very strange. Maybe a Great Black-backed, maybe something else. We walked along the river's edge to get closer. Soon, we were close enough to see it fairly well. While Ethan was watching it, it was chased off by another gull. This gull turned out to be a real Great Black-Backed. The other gull turned out to be a Great Black-backedXHerring Gull hybrid. A real neat bird. We then were able to pick out 2 Glaucous and a Thayer's. We, feeling satisfied, decide to leave.

96. Great Black-backed Gull

 We went to 126th St. Marsh and found that gulls were also plentiful there. The only uncommon gull there this time was another Great Black-backed. We soon left and went home, as the rain started to get heavier.

I might do a bit of chasing this week, so my next post may be soon. Next weekend is a 4 day one for me, so I will try to squeeze in as much birding as possible then.

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