We visited Burnham Harbor, Monroe Harbor, Jackson Park's Outer Harbor at La Rabida Children's Hospital, Rainbow Beach, Calumet Park, Hammond Marina (Indiana), the Whiting Refinery Beach (Indiana), Wolf Lake, and O'Brien Lock and Dam. The warm weather made for very open conditions on the lake and gull concentrations were few and far between. We did manage to see 16 species of waterfowl, but only four species of gulls. The species tally at the end of the day reached 40.
Here are some of the highlights.
Nothing unusual at Burnham and Monroe Harbors. The numbers of Common Mergansers in Monroe Harbor were pretty impressive; we estimated 800 of them. While heading south from there on Lake Shore Drive, Jeff Chapman spotted a little group of Monk Parakeets in the trees along The Drive near to McCormick Place.La Rabida had a nice assortment of ducks, including both Greater and Lesser Scaup as well as Redhead, and our only Hooded Merganser of the day (a female). Rainbow Beach and Calumet Park didn't have much to offer, but our visits to these sites contributed half of our total of 1714 Canada Geese. Hammond Marina was hosting some goose hunters, and not too much else. However, among the 'not too much else" was a female Black Scoter. In the marina proper were a lot of American Coots plus also a Pied-billed Grebe.
The Whiting Refinery Beach had all of our unusual winter gulls. We counted up 19 Great Black-backed Gulls and four Glaucous Gulls, which was quite nice. Three of the Glaucous were adults with one immature,and among the Great Black-backeds was an assortment of ages from 1st year to adult.
Wolf Lake had the greatest species diversity of any of our stops, with three species of swan contributing to this. We counted 62 Mute Swans (50 adults and 12 immatures), two Tundra Swans, and one Trumpeter Swan. We had a pair of Canvasback, a pair of Redhead, and a male Ring-necked Duck there, too. An adult Peregrine Falcon came barreling through while we there, heading further into Illinois in rather swift fashion after having captured its meal over in Indiana.
Finally, at O'Brien Lock & Dam, everyone got to see an American Kestrel hovering over the landfill. We also encountered a flock of 30 Common Redpolls, plus and adult an immature White-crowned Sparrow. It was here that we picked up a Downy Woodpecker, our only woodpecker of the day, to bring the species count to an even 40.
Great Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
American Tree Sparrow
Geoffrey A. Williamson