Sunday, October 30, 2005

From the Field: Birding Olive Park, Chicago

Well, I decided to take advantage of the nice afternoon, so in-between watching the Bears beat the Lions and doing some chores around my place, I walked over to Olive Park to see what was around.

Olive Park is another great little migrant trap along the Chicago lakefront, in the shadow of the John Hancock Building. Not too many people bird there any more because there is no cheap parking and it is not really close to anything else.

The park was essentially created to compensate for the construction of the Jardine water treatment facility along the lakefront. When Jardine was constructed, they also built Olive Park, so the park is technically run by the Water Department and not the Park District.

One other reason people don't really bird Olive Park much any more is because it just hasn't been that great in recent years. I know when they were banding birds there years ago they had a number of great rarities, but the "restoration" done at Olive Park in the last few years has really killed the birding. (Hey, when a site has *no* significant nesting species, here's a thought...let's manage it for migrating birds, not local nesters that won't nest there anyway. Especially when the "restoration" efforts kill a roosting spot for the only truly "high-priority" species that regularly occured at Olive Park--Black-crowned Night Heron. But I digress.)

Anyway, the birding was pretty slow today. Saw my FOTS Brown Creeper, along with 2 Fox Sparrows, 1 Song Sparrow, and 39 White-throated Sparrows. I saw exactly zero Tree Sparrows. Now, Northerly Island is, as the crow flies, maybe 2 miles directly south of Olive Park, but NI was loaded with Tree Sparrows today and had few WT Sparrows, but Olive was full of WT Sparrows and had no Tree Sparrows. I guess that shows how important it is to have different types of habitat along the lakefront. If you build it, they will come.

P.S. Am having trouble uploading photos from the Florida trip, as soon as I get that sorted out I will post a couple of new reports.

P.P.S. A couple of big projects at work may slow down the blog for a week or two, but we shall return...

Clint Eastwood comes to Blue Island.

Well, a brief non-birding is a photo of my Mom (wearing the Hard Rock jacket) with Clint Eastwood on Tuesday. Clint was in my hometown of Blue Island directing "Flags of Our Fathers," the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. They tried to keep the filming a bit of a secret, but word gets out...

This is the second major film to be filned in Blue Island, "Light of Day" with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett was filmed in town when I was a kid, maybe around 1985??? They also filmed an episode of "Cupid" (with Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall, I think) and two episodes of "Early Edition" in town in the 1990s.

From the Field: Birding Northerly Island October 30, 2005

Well, a full day of birding on Saturday tired me out, so I slept in a bit and made a quick trip to Northerly Island this morning.

That's NI at the left; the old terminal building is in the foregroud, that funky glass thing on the left towering over the terminal building is the "new" Soldier Field, with the South Loop skyline (including the Sears Tower and 311 S. Wacker) visible on the right in the background. You can see why birders love this place; it's right in the city, the perfect spot for a migrant trap, but it's also safe and has free parking, something that is becoming increasingly rare in Chicago. The habitat is really crap, essentially it's just a big old open field right along the lakefront, but it is really the only "habitat" of that kind along the Chicago lakefront.

Things were a bit slow today, I only had about 20 species, but there were a few goodies. The coolest bird was a very pale Short-eared Owl that was migrating high overhead. I don't do a lot of hawkwatching, so this may be the first time I have ever had a really great look at a high-flying SEOW; usually I see them hunting, or flushing up and flying away, but today's bird just sort of glided over us for a few minutes until it disappeared. A crow was sort of following the SEOW for a bit, almost like the crow was a fighter plane escorting another plane out of restricted airspace.

Two other highlights were 17 Horned Larks and 1 Lapland Lonspur. Now I know that in most of the USA those birds would not be considered "highlights," but in downtown Chicago, you don't see a lot of larks or longspurs. Some of the other birds around include a Peregrine Falcon, 2 American Kestrels, both kinglets, and plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos and sparrows (mainly American Tree, with a few Song and Swamp mixed in).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

From the Field: Birding Joe Overstreet Road, south of Orlando, Florida.

Let's go back into the wayback time machine, back before the White Sux won the World Series, before Hurricane Wilma, all the way back to September 18, 2005. On that day, I took another birding jaunt out to Joe Overstreet Road in Central Florida.

I can't give you directions, because I left my dog-eared copy of Bill Pranty's guide in Florida (btw the new edition is -- FINALLY --- supposed to be out in a few weeks; I have seen the last edition going for some pretty decent money on eBay and, but Joe Overstreet Road is a fairly popular birding spot that is only 30 or 45 minutes away (south of Kissimmee) from the Disney attractions in Central Florida. It would make a pretty nice birding spot for Disney visitors, especially Brits that are on a family vacation to Orlando and can only spare a few hours each morning to go birding.

I have birded JOR (hey, I just made up a nickname!) four or five times over the last few months, and there are always some nice birds there. The gravel road starts at a blacktop state highway, and continues through farmland and grazing land for a couple of miles before reaching a large lake with a boat launch, campground, and store. The lake itself is a possible spot for Limpkin, and on one of my first visists there I had killer views of a Snail Kite perched about 20 yards away from me.

Anyway, on this day I had a modest 20 species (can that be right? my notes are crap!); JOR is a lot of open-country birding so you won't get a lot of migrant warblers or thrushes if you bird from the car/road like I usually do.

However, I was very surprised to spot two Whooping Cranes, the first time I have ever seen them in Florida. I am not totally up-to-date on the status of the (released) birds in Florida, I know there have been a few spotted in past years near JOR, but I think that they are still a fairly unusual sight there. (Not too many people post to the Florida birding lists about JOR, even though I passed by some other birders while I was out there, so I'm not sure if anyone is regularly birding this spot year-round.)

I was also surprised, while watching a dead cow be devoured by vultures, to see a Crested Caracara, which was also a state bird for me. I know they are not impossible to find in Central Florida, but I haven't seen one in the area in the 5 or 6 times I have been birding in Florida, so that was pretty neat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

BINAC World Exclusive: First Report From A Volunteer Cornell Ivory-billed Woodpecker Searcher!

Some of the birding blogs out there have been complaining about the release that Cornell is requiring its "volunteer" IBWO searchers to sign. Astute readers will note that I complained about this several weeks ago, even though I lacked the effort to even fill out the application.

However, all is not lost, because Cornell apparently will allow the volunteer searchers to talk about their search as long as Cornell gets the chance to edit any report before it is distributed to the public.

I received the following report this afternoon, and I think that it will be of great interest to anyone who is interested in the Search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

My name is ________. I am a ________ from ________. Recently, I was selected by Cornell to be a volunteer IBWO searcher in ________, Arkansas.
I arrived in ____ on _______, where the team was greeted by __________ from Cornell. There were __ volunteer searchers there, including well-known birders such as _________, ________, and _________. I even got to meet the ________, who has her own birding blog, and she is much nicer than _______________ says she is.
Anyway, yesterday I had a 90% certain sighting of an ___________!!!! I was near _____ at about ____ in the morning. First, I heard what sounded like a toy ________, I would describe it as "_____-______."
Then I saw a large black ________, with white on the ______, black on the _____, and white on the ____ of the _____. I did not see the white ____ on the back. The head had a red _____, and the bill was _____.
I am virtually certain that this bird was a _________, even though I have never seen an _____ before, and the bird was more than ______ yards away from me.
I had my camera with me, but I could not _______, so I did not get a _______, and since Cornell would just ____ any _____ that I took anyway, to make _____, t-shirts, _______, and coffee mugs, why even bother?
After I reported my sighting to _____ of Cornell, he ______, and after wiping his eyes, he told me that I should _____ _______ ______ _______ ________. He also told me to ______ ______ ________ _______. And I did.
I also asked ______ what he thought of the blog by that guy named ______ from _______, and he told me that "his thoughts" were that ______ was full of _______ ; he feels that _____ is a _____ ______, a real __________. _________ promised me that they would shut ______ up by releasing a new video that would be sure to silence the critics.
This video, taken at a distance of 200 ______, clearly shows a bird that could be an ______, or possibly an aberrant_______, or maybe even a regular old __________. Nobody is really sure, and the video is a bit suspicious, because it is in black-and-white, but since Cornell has already seen an ______ in that area, ______ is the most likely bet. The video will be relaesed on the ______ Springer show sometime in early __07. It will also be sold on the Home ____ ______ for $__.__ on dvd. I can't wait to get my royalty checks from Cornell!!!!!
I hope you found my report to be _________, or at least a bit _______.
I hope that we get more reports from this volunteer searcher in the future!!!!!

Australian Night Parrot rediscovered?

The Night Parrot has not been seen in Australia since 1990, when a mummified specimen was found, probably of a bird that was hit by a vehicle. That was the first confirmed sighting in almost 80 years. Now, apparently, there has been a fairly reliable sighting near where a large mining operation is being proposed: Night Parrot Management Plan

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ornithologist to testify at Brown's Chicken Massacre trial????

I'm back from Florida, and hopefully I'll get caught up on posts today or tomorrow, depending on how long my jury duty lasts.

A few years ago, there was an infamous murder in the Chicago suburbs that was only cracked after several years based on a DNA sample that was taken from some half-eaten chicken. As crazy as it seems, the prosecutors apparently consulted with someone from the Field Museum in an attempt to identify the bone in questions. Check out the very end of this article:

Brown's `last meal' evidence hit
Juan Luna's "last meal," which prosecutors in the Brown's Chicken massacre say is a key to the case, is a myth, defense lawyers for Luna said Monday. Cook County prosecutors have alleged that Luna ordered a four-piece chicken dinner just before the 1993 massacre he is accused of committing along with co-defendant James Degorski. Luna allegedly put the boxed meal in the garbage, and in 2002 DNA testing performed on saliva found on one of the pieces of chicken linked Luna to the crime. But defense lawyers said at a hearing in Circuit Court Monday that they don't buy the argument that Luna had the "last meal."
They plan to argue that the chicken piece with Luna's DNA on it--known as "Bone C"--came from older loose scraps already in the garbage. "We think the evidence excludes the possibility [that Luna's DNA] came from the last meal," defense lawyer Stephen Richards said outside of court Monday. The piece that yielded the DNA was nearly picked clean of meat, Richards said, but the chicken in the box was almost completely uneaten. Richards said that although the killer or killers ordered the meal--it was shown on the last register receipts from the restaurant--the evidence shows it was not Luna who ordered it.
It's not possible to tell exactly what chicken pieces had Luna's DNA on them--pieces found in a meal box or in scraps under it--because forensic scientists in 1993 dumped the contents of the box into a garbage bag before preserving the evidence for testing. But prosecutors argue that photographs of chicken in the box before it was dumped into the bag show one piece was almost completely eaten. That is Bone C, they contend. Issues surrounding the chicken evidence were raised during the hearing Monday after an expert for the defense said he needs more access to evidence, including the bones. The expert, Alva Busch, told Judge Vincent Gaughan he thinks the chicken, much of which is now frozen in a single block, should be thawed so it can be determined exactly how many pieces are in evidence.
Defense lawyers said they think there could be as many as seven pieces, which helps their claim that Luna's piece of chicken was not from the killer's last meal. Prosecutors said they believe all the scraps in the bag, along with french fries and biscuits, are from a single four-piece meal.
Before allowing closer inspection of the chicken, Gaughan asked defense lawyers to speak with an ornithologist from the Field Museum who initially looked at the bones.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

From the Field: Birding Celebration, Florida

I think we finally have our flights arranged for Sunday, and hopefully I will be back in Chi-Town by Sunday evening.

There were periodic storms rolling through Central Florida today, so I took advantage of the down time to do some local birding in the town of Celebration, Florida.

Celebration is a planned community that was started by Disney about 10 years ago. The town was built on swamp and pasture land that Disney has owned for many years. As mitigation for the development, Disney (among other things) created the Disney Wilderness Preserve (in connection with the Nature Conservancy) outside of Orlando. So while the development of Celebration obviously destroyed a lot of habitat, the mitigation project has been pretty widely acclaimed (I have not been to the Wilderness Preserve yet), there are still nice patches of swampy woodland left adjacent to the town, and the developers left small interconnected ribbons of habitat that are connected by walking/bicycle trails.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the abundance of wildlife in town, including armadillos, White-tailed Deer, and tons of lizards, butterflies, and the like. And of course there are some birds. I haven't seen many migrants, but there are plenty of local breeders. I took just a short walk (maybe 15-20 minutes) from a residential neighborhood to the downtown cemtral business district and here's what I saw (in no particular taxonomic order):

Common Moorhen 2
Palm Warbler 6 (heard plenty more)
Carolina Wren 6
Blue Jay 2
Loggerhead Shrike 1 (a family nested in the parking lot of the tennis courts his year)
Northern Mockingbird 4
Limpkin 1 (a semi-tame bird that has been hanging around for at least a month)
Mottled Duck 3
Anhinga 6
Gray Catbird 2
Mourning Dove 4
Double-crested Cororant 1
Tricolored Heron 3
Wood Stork 1 (flyby, there were a few hanging earlier in the year)
White Ibis 6 (but after afternoon rains a flock of *140* was feeding on the sports fields)
Great Blue Heron 2
Snowy Egret 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 3 (nesting?)
Great Egret 2
Boat-tailed Grackle 1
Common Grackle 3
Wild Turkey 4
plus a couple of barnyard geese.

Those are some pretty good birds for a landlocked Yankee.

I have also seen a family of Pileated Woodpeckers, and at least one family of Sandhill Cranes, in the past couple of months. No Barred Owls yet, but I'm still trying.

Actual birding content on the way--promise!!!

Well, leave it to me to pick the exact *wrong* time to head down to the Keys and South Florida. Today I finally made it the BINAC branch office in Celebration, Florida, and if I cannot get a flight out to Chicago I will ride out the storm here. That eight-hour drive from Ft. Myers to Clearwater just about killed me, it is amazing that they still don't have an accurrate prediction for a storm that was supposed to hit Florida on Saturday morning...I guess now it's looking more like Monday, so my bright idea to fly out on Monday (*after* the storm was supposed to pass) is not looking so bright anymore.

I have done some actual birding in the last few days, and I have the photos to prove it. I will try to post some summaries when I get back to Chicago, or if I'm stuck in Florida I guess that will give me some time to catch up as well.

In the meantime, I have gotten quite a few comments and e-mails on the Mike Hendrickson vs. BirdChick post, so scroll down and check that out if you haven't done so already.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Excuse me, but do you mind if I flash these at the stage?"

Being a true gentleman, I could not refuse such a polite request from such a fine lady. After a hard day of birding, I often like to "wind down" by listening to some mellow music. Last night was one of those nights. A little gambling, a little rock and roll, and a wee bit of nudity. Sometimes when you're up front at a really good rock show, you don't know if you should be watching the crowd or the guys wearing the lime green suits on stage. I guess there is such a thing as a "win-win" situation. Bet you don't get this kind of entertainment on a VENT or Field Guides trip. So come birding with BINAC, and you can see first-hand why the ability to bird by ear is overrated. At least I've got an excuse.

Blog on the run.

Well, I have finally gotten back to the "connected" world. You don't know how much you miss Internet access until you lose it. Anyway, as some of you have probably already figured from the last photo I posted, I have been in some areas that are smack dab in the middle of the projected path of Hurricane Wilma. Luckily, we have already started our drive north, and the storm seems to have slowed down a bit, so we should be ok. There has been a bit of a run on gas in Ft. Myers where we are staying right now and most of the stations I checked were out, but we ought to be able to get at least to Tampa tomorrow where hopefully gas will be a bit more plentiful. This is not entirely a birding trip, so I spent a good part of the day working, but there were a few fun things that I will talk about in future posts. If we get stormed in over the next few days at least that will give me a chance to post where I have been over the past few days.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Where am I????

So, this is a place that should look familar to many North American birders...although spring is definitely better than fall here.

A full report will be online soon.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Presentation at the Field Museum (Chicago) on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker featuring John Fitzpatrick and Gene Sparling!

Donnie Dann sent this very interesting announcement today about the IBWO:


The Nature Conservancy and the Field Museum are co-sponsoring a program at the Field Museum to celebrate the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas last spring. It will be on the evening of Wednesday November 30at 7:00 PM at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.

Featured participants are John Fitzpatrick, the former curator ofornithology at the Field and currently the Director of Cornell Lab, who ledthe discovery team effort, Scott Simon from TNC in Arkansas who was so instrumental in protecting the birds' habitat, and Gene Sparling, the volunteer who saw the bird first!

Participants from other institutions will talk about the project and the implications for conservation. A wine and cheese reception begins at 6 pm will feature other scientists who were part of the expedition including the Field's own Doug Stotz and DaveWillard. Some of the Museum's specimens will be on hand for observation and Audubon prints will be for sale.

Advance reservations are required with tickets available for $25 ($20 formembers of Field Museum or Nature Conservancy). To register call 312 665 7400. For any questions contact Laurel M. Ross, Conservation ImplementationRegional Director of Environmental and Conservation Programs at the FieldMuseum, 312 665 7432 (direct).


I think this will be my first-ever wine-and-cheese birding event. Most birding events are whiney-and-cheesey. I wonder if anyone will have any interesting questions to welcome John back to his old stompin' grounds...

On the road again...the rants will have to wait.

Well, I had a few good rants that I planned to post on a couple of different issues, but those will have to wait...I have been working late and travelling a lot and finally got a bit of a let-up today, but I'm on the road again tomorrow, just finished packing. At least I will be going to what is one of the hottest birding spots in the United States right about now, and while my trip is not really a birding one, you can bet that I'll see a few goodies along the way. Hopefully I will have wi-fi at the hotel so I can post a bit of a travelogue on what I see.

In the meantime, watch the 60 Minutes piece on Sunday on the IBWO. Remember, this is the film crew that supposedly saw an IBWO but couldn't get a photo of it. (Sound familiar?)

Do the Mannakin Moonwalk!

Here is a new dance that is sweeping the birding world: the Mannakin Moonwalk!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stop, Hawk-Thief!

According to this AP article, people are apparently stealing hawks -- one hawk in particular, twice! -- in Illinois. I guess the zoo never figured that the same hawk would get stolen twice! (Note the zoo director's first name; he *must* be a raptor guy!)


Man arrested for freeing hawk raised in captivity

The Associated Press
Published October 13, 2005, 3:12 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A man who felt sorry for a caged hawk stole the bird and set it loose, although the bird was raised in captivity and may not be able to survive in the wild, police said.

The red-tailed hawk named "Mani" had lived at Springfield's Henson Robinson Zoo for 25 years.

"I can sympathize with the fact that he didn't like seeing the bird caged, but ... all of us who work out at the zoo (are) very worried for the bird," said zoo director Talon Thornton.

Zoo officials discovered Mani had been stolen on Oct. 6.

Glenarm resident Sean J. Coleman, 19, was arrested Wednesday after police got a Crime Stopper tip about the missing hawk. He was released and could face charges of theft, burglary and trespassing, officials said Thursday.

Coleman allegedly took Mani about 3 a.m., drove him a few miles out of town and set him loose. Authorities said he cut a set of leather cuffs, which would have been a distinct identifier for those looking for the bird, off Mani's legs.

Police said Coleman told them he wanted Mani "to be free and happy in a non-caged world." He felt better for himself and the bird after setting Mani loose, police said.

A public telephone listing for a Sean Coleman in Glenarm could not be found.

Zoo officials want to know specifically where Mani was released so they can more effectively search for him. But Thornton said Coleman and a companion who was with him at the bird's release do not remember exactly where they were. The friend was not arrested.

This is the second time Mani has been stolen from the zoo. In 1998, someone broke into the facility, took him and tried to sell him.

"We use Mani in educational programs all over the state," Thornton said. "He is very much in the public eye. ... I think that's one of the things that has made Mani a target."

Zoo buildings have entry alarms, but the birds of prey are kept in an outdoor enclosure with no alarm. The thief had to break through two locks to reach Mani.

Thornton said zoo officials plan to make some changes in security.

Bird Collision Monitors on Spike O'Dell's Radio Show

I heard that Spike O'Dell(morning host on WGN 720 radio, one of the largest radio stations in the country), who is very interested in bird issues, had a great discussion (this morning?) with some of Chicago's Bird Collision monitors. This sort of publicity is great, as it reaches a segment of the population that might not normally be listening to bird-related issues. Just as an example, the President of the firm where I work just came up to me and was talking about it, he even remembered the web site and everything. So this sort of thing does stick in people's heads.

I could not find a link to a transcript on the WGN site, if anyone has a link or transcript they could send me, I will gladly post it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bushmen of Montrose to become extinct?

Mike Miller noticed an interesting item in the local paper concerning the Chicago Police Department's recent efforts to clean up the lakefront's premier birding spot, the Magic Hedge at Montrose Point. I hope nobody Googling for porn sites is disappointed by this post. It is a bit graphic, so you are forewarned:


12 men in 14 days
Due to numerous CAPS complaints of lewd sexual activity, police officers have conducted aggressive patrols of the 4400 block of N. Simmonds Drive, which is the Bird Sanctuary located at Montrose Ave. and the lakefront.
At 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, a man was arrested for masturbating. At 6:25 p.m. the same day, another man was arrested for the same offense.
At 5:25 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, police observed a pair of men facing each other and masturbating, and arrested both. At 9:45 p.m. that night, another man was arrested for the same offense.
At 5:25 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, two men engaged in oral sex were placed in custody and transported to the 23rd District.
At 6:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, one man was arrested for
At 7:10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, another incident of masturbation resulted in an arrest.
At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, three men engaged in mutual masturbation were arrested.
Those arrested were residents of Edgewater, Uptown, the South Side, Rogers Park, the West Side, Kenosha, WI, Lake View, North Center and Lincoln Square.


Birding Blog Feuds: Mike Hendrickson vs. BirdChick, Round 2!

Well, I don't like to link to very many other birding blogs, especially not to political blogs masquerading as birding blogs, or to product placement sites designed to look like true birding blogs. But I do thoroughly enjoy Mike Hendrickson's blog, and I simply *love* the BirdChick blog. So imagine my sheer pleasure when, sitting in my hotel room in Nashville, I surfed on over to Mike's blog and saw his hilarious attacks on both BirdChick and on Tom Nelson's IBWO site!!! Now, Tom can take care of himself, so I won't address Mike's comments about the IBWO. (Hey Mike, I do know that people at Cornell *are* reading Tom's blog, they even stop by here at BINAC once in a while, too!!!) But I simply CANNOT pass up the chance to disSECT the Hendrickson vs. BirdChick feud. There must be some history there that I don't know about. Anyway, it's not much of a feud yet, because BirdChick has not responded to Mike's posts, so I will try to fan the flames with a cogent and educated legal analysis of Mike's charges against the BirdChick.

First, Mike charges that BirdChick is an overnight success like John Denver. Even though John Denver sucks, I don't think he was an overnight success, and since he's dead and can't defend himelf, I say NOT GUILTY and give BirdChick the victory on this one! SCORE: BIRDCHICK 1, HENDRICKSON O.

Next, Mike accuses BirdChick of being a name-dropper, and of tirelessly self-promoting herself and her web site. I don't know if everything Mike says is true, but I'm gonna vote GUILTY on this one, since the name-dropping is definitely annoying when done by anyone other than myself. SCORE: BIRDCHICK 1, HENDRICKSON 1.

Mike then makes some comments about BirdChick's cleavage and lipstick. I think cleavage is a good thing under just about any circumstance, so even though I find BirdChick GUILTY of having cleavage, I award her one point anyway. You know, because of the cleavage. SCORE: BIRDCHICK 2, HENDRICKSON 1.

The cleavage complaint is followed a general comment about birding being about seeing the birds, and not about publicity or money or stuff like that. I wholeheartedly agree, so this is a GUILTY, one more point to Hendrickson! SCORE: BIRDCHICK 2, HENDRICKSON 2.

Finally, Mike attacks BirdChick's constant references to a pet rodent named Cinnamon . This attack includes a picture of several wascally wabbits strung up on some barbed wire. That's cool, BirdChick is GUILTY, Hendrickson scores another point and wins the match!!!! FINAL SCORE: BIRDCHICK 2, HENDRICKSON 3!!!!!!!

Hendrickson wins this bout, will there be a rematch???????????

Sunday, October 09, 2005

From the Field: Birding Northerly Island Sunday October 9, 2005

I was out of town this past weekend and missed all of the goodies that showed up at Northerly Island over the last few days. So I decided to sneak in a quick pre-dusk sweep to see what I could find. It was very birdy, and, unfortunately, very dark, so I didn't see too much. I was specifically trying to relocate some of the flycatchers that had been reported from earlier in the day but all I was able to find were two Eastern Phoebes. (Did I mention it was getting dark?)

I did pick up most of the usual common sparrows, including a ton of immature White-crowned Sparrows. Also flushed up a Wilson's Snipe and a couple of Meadowlarks. Best bird of the day, though, was the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that flushed up then perched in the densest part of the large tree along the horizontal corner of the island. Funny thing is, this is the 2nd or 3rd time thisw year that I have flushed a cuckoo from the same spot into this very same tree. Either there is something about that little micro-habitat that cuckoos really like, or the same bird has been sticking around for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Significant cold front to result in massive migration push???

Well, warbler migration is starting to slow down a bit here in Chicago and in the Midwest generally, but sparrow migration is just starting to pick up, and I haven't seen any significant waterfowl migration (no diving ducks at all) yet. It was almost 80 degreees here in Chicago today. But the times they are-a-changin'.

There is a pretty brisk cold front that is supposed to arrive here in Chicago sometime late in the day on Wednesday or early Thursday morning; we'll go from nearly 80 today to highs in the 50s on Thursday. This will very likely open the doors wide open for the last big push of warblers, and for a really huge push of sparrows, waterfowl, and maybe even raptors. There might be a really neat nocturnal migration tomorrow night, with tons of birds appearing, literally, overnight in some of the migrant traps. Northerly Island and Montrose ought to be rockin', Palos ought to be really good as well.

This big fall migrant push can mean only one thing: Christmas Bird Counts are right around the corner!

I've got quite a bit of travel (work and personal) planned for the next few weeks in about five different states, so hopefully I will post from some new and exciting (think: Caribbean vagrants)hotspots in October.

In the meantime, I still hope to have some other folks step up and submit things for me to post when I am too busy or travelling, but sometimes it's easier to just make something up myself than to hound somebody to send something in.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Village of Orland Park proposes dumping storm water into McGinnis Slough.

McGinnis Slough is located in Chicago's southwest suburbs, the main parking area is located at about 139th and LaGrange Avenue. McGinnis Slough has been perhaps the best place in Chicago to view waterfowl over the last few years, and also hosts huge roosts of waders (mainly Great Egrets) and decent numbers of shorebirds. There is also a nice population of nesting birds, including many Pied-billed Grebes, and this year a pair of Trumpeter Swans attempted to nest.

There was a story in the local paper (can't find it anywhere online)about the Village of Orland Park seeking to build a 60-inch storm water pipe that would flow directly into the slough. This pipe, which would supposedly only be used during "10-year storms," would be capable of dropping up to 70,900 gallons of dirty storm water PER MINUTE into the slough.

Thankfully, the Cook County Forest Preserve is, for once, doing the right thing and currently opposes this plan. However, I suspect that this plan will rear its ugly head again sometime in the near future, right after people have forgotten about it.

I can't say for certainty what 70,900 gallons of dirty, salt- and oil-adulterated storm water will do to the bird life at McGinnis Slough, and I for one sure don't want to find out the hard way.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Harris's Sparrow at Northerly Island

Today's DuPage Birding Club trip to Northerly Island was quite successful. Although the birding was a bit slower than it has been the last few days, we did see about 40 species, the highlight being at least one Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, and a very nice Harris's Sparrow.

The Harris's Sparrow was found on the rocks at the base of a small Maple tree. The tree is right at the "corner" of the Island; if you're walking south (from near 12th Street Beach) along the eastern edge of the Island, you'll hit a short east/west section of shoreline. Follow that shoreline west until it makes a 90 degree turn to the left/south; the Harris' was basically hanging out at this last corner, it seemed pretty loyal to that spot.

I think this might be the first (or maybe the second?) Harris's Sparrow reported from Northery Island. That general area (Grant Park, Museum Campus, Northerly Island)is probably the best spot in Illinois for Harris's Sparrows. They are seen there just about every year, I probably have seen them about 10 times in that general area.

Also seen were Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, five species of warblers, plenty of sparrows (Savannah, Sharp-tailed, Fox, Song, Lincoln's, Swamp, White-crowned, White-throated, Harris'sn and Dark-eyed Junco), plus two Lapland Longspurs. I probably missed a few species that others saw, but you get the picture.

No Budgie today.