Geoffrey Williamson led the Chicago Ornithological Society field trip along the Chicago lakefront on Sunday, 16 Feb 2014.  Our group of 13 birders visited Montrose Point, Belmont Harbor mouth, Diversey Harbor mouth, and then hoofed it to the Whiting Refinery Beach in Whiting, Indiana.  Our targets were ducks and gulls, and we did pretty well on both scores.

At Montrose Point while birding in a little snowfall, we located one SURF SCOTE -R and also got good looks at 30 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS.  A nice landbird addition to our day list was FOX SPARROW, with the one individual that has been frequenting the area where someone is maintaining a bird feeder.

We then made our way to Belmont Harbor mouth, which was the locale at the time of the big scaup raft on Chicago's northside lakefront. Amidst the 500 or so GREATER SCAUP we spotted one leucistic individual, a male CANVASBACK, and several REDHEADS. Also in the raft was a male BLACK SCOTER that completed our scoter slam for the morning. Needless to say, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were present at this site as well (they were at every spot we visited!).

Our next stop was at the Diversey Harbor mouth, where we had our closest views of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and also GREATER SCAUP, just under the Lake Shore Drive overpass. Adding to our duck list for the morning was a male LONG-TAILED DUCK along the lake edge south of the harbor mouth.

Well, this was a trip to look for gulls as well as ducks, and this year that meant driving south past the ice-locked Chicago shoreline and across the state border to the Whiting Refinery Beach in Whiting, Indiana.  This stop produced excellent gull diversity plus added to our list a nice RED-THROATED LOON. Among the seven species of gulls we saw there were three THAYER"S GULLS, one 1st-cycle ICELAND (KUMLIEN"S) GULL, two LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, seven GLAUCOUS GULLS, and 24 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS.  Plus also, of course, more WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. An extra treat was a couple of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS.  The Whiting Beach also held gull experts Amar Ayyash and Maarten van Kleinwee (the latter visiting from The Netherlands), which was a big help to the group.

Species lists for each site are given below. Some photos can be found at

Montrose Point Species List

120 Canada Goose
1 Surf Scoter
30 White-winged Scoter
26 Common Goldeneye
44 Common Merganser
52 Red-breasted Merganser
37 Ring-billed Gull
5 Herring Gull (American)
1 Downy Woodpecker
10 American Crow
4 Black-capped Chickadee
32 American Robin
18 European Starling
1 American Tree Sparrow
8 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
9 Northern Cardinal
30 House Sparrow

Belmont Harbor Species List

9 Canada Goose
1 Canvasback
8 Redhead
482 Greater Scaup
16 White-winged Scoter
1 Black Scoter
40 Common Goldeneye
48 Common Merganser
32 Red-breasted Merganser
1 American Kestrel
3 Black-capped Chickadee
12 American Robin

Diversey Harbor Species List

13 Canada Goose
9 Mallard
12 White-winged Scoter
1 Long-tailed Duck - male
14 Common Goldeneye
15 Common Merganser
10 Red-breasted Merganser
1 Peregrine Falcon
8 American Crow

Whiting Beach Species List

1 American Black Duck
11 Mallard
3 White-winged Scoter
8 Common Goldeneye
12 Red-breasted Merganser
1 Red-throated Loon
12 Ring-billed Gull
350 Herring Gull
3 Thayer's Gull adults - 2, 1st cycle - 1
1 Iceland Gull (Kumlien"s) 1st cycle
2 Lesser Black-backed Gull adults
7 Glaucous Gull: adults - 5, 2nd cycle - 1, 1st cycle -1
24 Great Black-backed Gull: adults - 19, 3rd cycle - 1, 1st cycle - 4

Good birding,

Geoffrey A. Williamson

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois