Sunday, October 30, 2005

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).

1 comment:

John B. said...

I would consider horned larks and a lapland longspur to be highlights, especially since I have never seen either one.