Nineteen observers attended the Chicago Ornithological Society-sponsored Wolf Lake/Calumet Waterfowl & Gulls field trip led by Sam Burckhardt and myself on Saturday morning (9 February 2013). We found a total of 47 species. Highlights included TUNDRA SWAN, NORTHERN SHOVELER, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, BALD EAGLES, THAYER'S GULLS, "KUMLIEN'S" GULLS, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, NORTHERN SHRIKE, and LAPLAND LONGSPURS.
There was a decided element of confusion to the trip in the sense that there were often too many birds to look at all at once. So not all of the observers were able to get on all of the "good" birds. Another complication involved birds that disappeared behind (or were flushed by) a barge shortly after the initial sighting.
Our trip began at Wolf Lake (Powers Fish & Wildlife Area, Chicago). After scanning through a group of 75 MUTE SWANS and other assorted waterfowl, Fran Morel picked out a TUNDRA SWAN in the group. Most or all of us were able to get good views of this bird, as this particular individual could be singled out by its incessant head-bobbing. Wolf Lake waterfowl also included 1 RUDDY DUCK, 4 CANVASBACKS, and 90 REDHEADS.
Next, we checked the Calumet River for gulls. We found 1 (1st-cycle) "KUMLIEN'S" ICELAND GULL and 2 adult THAYER'S GULLS with the other gulls on the iced-over Calumet River viewed from the north end of the 126th St. Marsh. The 126th Street Marsh is located on the north side of 126th Place, 3 tenths mile east of Torrence Avenue in Chicago.
A number of notable sightings were made in-between stops, on the way to one place or another. A NORTHERN SHRIKE chasing a Red-tailed Hawk(!) was spotted at Indian Ridge Marsh viewed from 122nd Street. There were no eagles present during our visit to the Lake Calumet nest, but Scott & Ethan Ellis spotted 2 BALD EAGLES soaring over Stony Island Avenue just south of the nest site. Two LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen flying over landfills along Stony Island by several observers on our way to Deadstick Pond.
We checked the Calumet River at the south end of Deadstick Pond for gulls. Upon our arrival, the Gyllenhaals announced they had relocated the 4 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS that had been posted by Craig Taylor earlier in the day, but a pesky BALD EAGLE had flushed the scoters along with most of the gulls. Such problems we have. Luckily the WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were relocated later, but they were swimming west quickly and they got lost behind a barge before most of the group could get on them. Gulls seen from the south end of Deadstick Pond included 2 THAYER'S GULLS (1 1st-cycle, 1 adult) and 2 "KUMLIEN'S" ICELAND GULLS (1 1st-cycle, 1 adult). Shortly before we left Deadstick, Ethan & Aaron G. found a (3rd-cycle) LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, but it disappeared behind a barge before the group could get on it. Same barge. Sigh.
Our final stop was at the Bend of the Little Calumet River. As expected, the Bend was jam-packed with ducks of various species. Most were commoner species, but less expected ducks included 1 NORTHERN SHOVELER and 1 GREATER SCAUP (uncommon inland). Other notable species at the Bend included 4 PIED-BILLED GREBES, 19 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, and 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS.
Phone the MWRD Police ahead of time (708-588-4035) if you wish to bird the bend of the river from the SEPA Station on 127th Street just west of State Street, Chicago (park across the street).
Our complete species list follows at the end of this post.
Hopefully, Scott Ellis and others will soon post photos from the trip.
Chicago, Cook Co.
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Lesser Black-backed Gull
American Tree Sparrow