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Showing posts from September, 2012

Last day in Chicago

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I'm now back home amidst the floods and torrential rain that has characterised the last 12 months here, so to cheer myself up I thought I'd share a coule of images from Northerly Island yesterday.

It was a breezy morning when I pulled up at 7am having said my goodbyes to my daughter. A Black-billed Cuckoo sat on the railings of the building above my head as I put my $2:50 in the parking lot machine - four hours should be plenty. There was one other car in the parking lot - that belonged to Leo whom I bumped into a few minutes later as we scoured the grassy areas for Sparrows. We had on very interesting bird that could have been a Henslow's but nothing was sitting out.

The area at the southern end was again the most productive with a whole host of Sparrows: White-throated, Song, Swamp, Savannah, Lincoln's and Chipping as well as this warbler that we think is a Pine.
Leo decided to try Montrose but before he left, stumbled across a flock of Lapland Longspurs (Buntings) n…

Chicago Northerly Island

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Slight change of plan today as I was expecting to spend the whole of the day in Chicago with Heather but she had to work this morning. that was my cue to try birding a new area for me and one that was closer to where I'm staying - Northerly Island. Formerly a small airport built on infill into the lake, this has been transformed into a park with jogging/cycling tracks and prairie type vegetation. Sticking out into Lake Michigan just south of the city and the museum area, it clearly attracts migrants, especially Sparrows.

It was an eventful three hours as there was plenty of long grass for birds to disappear into but nevertheless, I saw over 40 species. My first tramp through some taller grasses produced Savannah and Swamp Sparrows as well as an obliging Nelson's. Palm Warblers were everywhere again and the avifauna was enlivened by the presence of Coopers Hawk, Peregreine, Black-billed Cuckoo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I flushed a Meadowlark (Eastern or Western???) and three S…

The Magic Hedge lives up to its name

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Another morning spent at Montrose Point was again rewarding with lots of new birds having come in overnight. As I opened the car door, I was greeted by the trilling of Cedar Waxwings and the calls of a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Chimney Swifts continued to fizz around the tree tops and a Peregrine gloded overhead as I made my way towards the shore where I had more good views of Nelson's Sparrows and a Dickcissel amongst a few other things.
Back in the cover of the Magic Hedge there were plenty of things to keep me occupied - more warblers with an Orange-crowned being rather early. Whilst looking for this bird, a Connecticut-like warbler popped up briefly - I was immediately hit by the bright conspicuous eye-ring and greyish hood/shawl. But as soon as it had appeared, it had gone. I alerted other to its presence but to no avail.
Yellowthroats and Palm Warblers were very common today but there was a good supporting cast with Nashville, Tenessee, Black & White, Magnol…

Visible Migration on the Illinois River

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I was at Hennepin Lake bright and early, and well wrapped up as I scanned from the observation tower. The forecast wind hadn't picked up yet and it was a beautiful morning. Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Blue Jays were passing my nose and I just wasn't expecting the hundreds of White Pelicans flying down the Illinois River basin from the north! Raptors were putting in an appearance with Sharp-shinned Hawk annoying the local Blue Jays and Starlings, Coopers Hawk and three Northern Harriers but the waders were the birds I was drawn to.

The conditions were so much better than yesterday so I could get reasonable identifiable views. Apart from around 300 peeps of some description, there were a few American Golden Plover, two Buff-breasted Sandpipers, single Lesser Yellowlegs, a few Pectoral Sands and a Godwit which I think must have been Marbled as it dwarfed the Ring-billed Gull next to it (well you know what I mean). I had picked it up on my first scan and vowed to return to…

Unexpected Bald Eagles

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This-morning I set out to Montrose again but this time wrapped up in a couple of layers - a cold front had passed through and the temperature had dropped, coupled with a stiff NW wind, it felt quite a bit colder!

Though I tried a little later on, it wasn't a day for the dunes area - birds were most active on the south side of the hedge unsurprisingly and there were still plenty around including plenty of Magnolias and a few Parulas. At one point we had Yellowthroat, Wilson's, Blackpoll, Cape May, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Nashville, Parula and Redstart in one tree at the same time. Nearby I also had a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Whilst photographing the above, a Pine Siskin flew in calling, landing on the top of a tree. Could just about make out that it was a juvenile and a very early one by all accounts. Still a fwe Goldfinches around but a juvenile Cooper's Hawk was patrolling the area so birds were understandably wary.

I then set off for a 2 1/2 hour drive to the bend i…

More warblers at Montrose Point

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It's been another fine morning's birding at Montrose today with the imminent arrival of a cold front, I'm hoping for some falls in the next couple of days.

I made my way out onto the dunes where I managed to see another Nelson's Sparrow and a Swamp Sparrow along with Merlin, American Golden plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe and a flurry of Barn Swallows passing through. There were plenty of Northern Waterthrushes both out on the dunes and in the Magic Hedge area.
There were a lot of warblers around today - still lots of Palm Warblers, Yellowthroats and American Redstarts but also Magnolia, Blackpoll, Tenessee, Black & White, Parula, Chestnut-sided, Nashville and a lateYellow Warbler. Red-eyed Vireo was new for the day and there were several Flickers including eight in one tree at one point!
Brown Thrashers were in evidence along with lots more thrushes - mainly Swainson's but a couple of Slightly larger Grey-cheeked too. A drinking pool in the disa…

Nelson's Sparrows in Chicago

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I'm back in Chicago this week to attend Heather's Senior Day at IIT next Saturday and in the intervening period, take in a couple of her games and do some birding whilst she's at college. Yesterday we had a trip to South Bend, Indiana and joined the team after the game at one of the platers homes nearby. The house was situated out of town in a complex surround by natural woodland so it shouldn't have been a surprise to see a Pileated Woodpecker in the back garden! Add to that Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker and some more regular birds and it was a very pleasant break in the trip!

This-morning was my first chance to get out to do some proper birding, leaving Heather to have a deserved lie-in, so I had to head to Montrose Point and the "Magic Hedge". I made my way out onto the dunes around 7am to join a few birders who'd been looking for Nelson's Sparrows. There were several around (unusually so) and I jammed in on one pretty much straight away…

Information Boards arrive at Rishton Reservoir

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It seems an inordinately long time ago when I penned a few lines for the Prospect Panel in Rishton - they wanted to put up some information boards around Cut Wood and I suggested a couple of bird ones illustrated by my good friend and local artist, Tony Disley.

And so it came to pass that last week the first one was installed about 18 months after that initial enquiry and the first comment was "Why are there no Swans on there" as a Black Swan had taken up residence. You can't legislate for these sort of things and I was limited to ten species!

I nipped down this-morning to see the board and I wasn't disappointed - there were even birds around the reservoir including 60 Lapwings and a Kingfisher. The Black Swan was also present with a single Mute Swan and Canada Goose whilst the juvenile Great Crested Grebe was fully grown though still dependent on its parents.

At home, the new garden re-design is finished and the bids have given it their approval. A flock of over 30 …

Lancashire Bird Report 2011

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After many man-days of work again this year, the report has arrived and I'm about to post it out to members of the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society. It will be available soon in selected outlets around the county - Seaforth, Marshside, In-Focus (at Martin Mere), Mere Sands Wood, Brockholes and Leighton Moss.

Four county firsts are included, I saw the Solitary Sandpiper and the Short-toed Lark but didn't go for the Iberian Chiffchaff. As for the fourth, well no-one apart from some vets saw that one alive - a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! And then there's the first confirmed British record of a 'Caspian' Reed Warbler found dead in December. All good stuff so get a copy!!!

Next publication - the Dragonfly Atlas perhaps!

Tree pipits reach 19 for the summer

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All the wet weather has really put paid to much mothing, ringing or birding over the last few weeks which has been probably a good thing in that I’ve got the Lancashire Bird Report finished off and at the printers ready for a frantic delivery dash next weekend. The garden is taking shape albeit slowly but most of the plants should be in place by the end of the week and we can start to use it again! Yesterday, Bernie and I paid a visit to Eccleston Mere where we managed to catch up with the American Black Tern that had been floating around the area for a couple of days. It had disappeared just before we got there and several people made their way up to the site and then turned around but we decided to stick it out a little longer and were rewarded with some great views. Of course, I didn’t take my camera! Doh! Sunday evening saw me and Mark join Richard at the Melling Swallow roost where we caught around 60 birds before they settled in for the night. That’s the third session I’ve done th…