Monday, March 18, 2013

Ducks Are Everywhere!!

Hi all,

This week and weekend has had one obvious theme, ducks! Since my last blog post, I have seen 22 species of waterfowl. To start off, I will tell you about my after school birding last week.


We went to Douglas Park to do some monitoring. As soon as I walked up to the sanctuary lagoon, I saw the two male Redhead from last week along with 6 Northern Shovelers. The Shovelers are a new monitoring bird for the park, which means that we have seen them in the park, but only before I started monitoring.

The Shovelers were followed quickly by the flushing of an American Woodcock, which is a yearbird for me! To make the situation even better, I got my first ever semi-decent photos of a Woodcock.

114. American Woodcock

This got followed up by 2 more Woodcock, a Peregrine Falcon flyover, and an Eastern Bluebird.


We unsuccessfully looked for a Harlequin Duck that was found at 63rd St Beach. It was also raining constantly. We did get 3 White-winged Scoters at 63rd St Beach and 3 White-winged Scoters and a Great Black-backed Gull at Rainbow Beach.


First, this day was made possible by Ted Wolff who graciously volunteered to take us around the lakefront for the day. Thanks go to Ted and his generosity. My dad was busy out of the county which is why he couldn't take us. The day started off with Ted picking Ethan and me up at our house. We first went to our main target, the Harlequin Duck. This bird could not have been easier to find. The second we walked onto the pier, we saw it. The failure of the previous day made this success much sweeter, though.

115. Harlequin Duck

We then moved to LaRabida Harbor where we found some Horned Grebes and presumably the same 3 White-winged Scoters as yesterday. We then worked our way down to the Calumet area by way of Rainbow Beach and Calumet Park, both of which held nothing special. Our first stop that harbored something good wasn't really planned. On our way to Deadstick, we passed by Indian Ridge Marsh. I noticed two Ring-necked Ducks and decided to scan around the marsh. What I found were 30 Northern Shovelers, 3 Gadwall, and 4 Blue-winged Teal!

116. Blue-winged Teal

When we got to Deadstick, we didn't find much. There were some Ring-necked Ducks and Gadwall on the actual pond and 3 White-winged Scoters by the overlook to the river. We then wandered around for a bit before going to O'Brien Lock & Dam where the only highlight was a Thayer's Gull. I then read that Doug Stotz had found a Franklin's Gull only 5 minutes away from where we were! When we got there, nothing good was to be found. Oh well. We then moved on to 126th St Marsh the 5 Snow Geese were still present, but that was it. For our last stop of the day in Calumet, we went to Wolf Lake. We first went to State Line Road where we could see all of the ducks were in Indiana hundreds of Ring-necked, Canvasback, and Redhead were present in this raft. Only small numbers of these species were to be found on the Illinois side. What we did find on the Illinois side were 14 Horned Grebes, 13 White-winged Scoters, 7 Gadwall and 11 American Wigeon.

117. American Wigeon

We then left for Northerly Island because my dad would be picking us up there. As a bonus, we found 5(!!) Thayer's Gulls in the 60 Herring Gulls in the harbor. Also there was a cooperative Crow.

After my dad picked us up, we decided to go to Douglas Park. There we found the 2 Redheads, 5 Shovelers, 2 Horned Grebes, 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Wood Ducks, 1 Lesser Scaup, and 1 Greater Scaup! The sanctuary lagoon was packed! Horned Grebe was a new monitoring bird and Greater Scaup was a new park bird, so I am a very happy camper.


The forecast for strong NE winds made me excited enough to lakewatch at Gillson, but I wanted to make a quick check at Douglas. At Douglas, everything was the same except for a male Bufflehead replacing 2 Horned Grebes and another Lesser Scaup joined the foray. When we went to Gillson, that provided only 1 White-winged Scoter, so we decided to move to Northwestern University, where we had a flyby flock of 17 Northern Pintails. Lastly, we went to Lighthouse Beach where we had 17 Mute Swan flyby.


Today, we decided to bird the local parks after school. A quick stop at Columbus Park gave us 3 Ring-necked Ducks, which were a new bird for that park.

We then went to Douglas to see if anything new popped by. The 5 Shovelers, 2 Lesser Scaup, 1 Greater Scaup, and 2 Redhead were still present, but new this time were Ring-necked Duck and American Coot. Ring-necked is, again, a new bird for this park, bringing the list up to 160 species. Right after I started to photograph the ducks, they all (except the Coot) flushed for some unknown reason.

Unfortunately, only the Redhead and Shovelers came back. We the went to Garfield Park where we got 3 Shovelers and 2 Redhead. Our last stop of the day was Humboldt Park, where we got 1 Common Goldeneye, 7 Bufflehead, 3 Coots, 4 Lesser Scaup, and 1 Ring-necked Duck.

That is it! Again, thanks to Ted Wolff for his generosity in giving us a ride around Chicago. I will be birding every day except Thursday this week, and next week is SPRING BREAK!!!!!! See you all soon.

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