Date: 2/24/17 10:33 am From: Al Stokie <alstokie99...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...> Subject: IBET Cook County-Gillson Park Spring Lake Watch #1 & Evanston Pelicans Friday 2-24-17
Hello Bird People,
My original plan for this a.m. was to walk the Evanston lakefront parks & beaches & end up at Gillson Park in Wilmette. Thought I'd see waterfowl in the lake & maybe some birds flying by. Started at S. Blvd Beach as I always do but right away I could see problems with my plan. The wind was much harder than I expected which caused large waves on the lake which meant water birds would be hard to see & harder to I.D. due to wave action. Also a little mist was still present even though the real rain was over. But I could see that ducks in some numbers were flying north while ignoring the considerable headwinds. Then I got quite a surprise as I saw 14 very large, bulky, white birds flying north over the lake fairly far out from shore. Swans I figured as they were way too big to be Snow Geese but like Snow Geese they had black wing tips so Swans were out & WHITE PELICANS were in. This may have been the 1st flock of White Pelicans I have ever seen flying over Lake Michigan although I have seen single Pelicans over the lake & flocks every March along the inland rivers. Time for a change in plans so off I went to Gillson Park to do
Gillson Park Spring Lake Watch #1 (8:15-10:15 a.m.)
I hoped I'd get there before the Pelicans did so I could see them with the scope & get better views. The Pelicans did not cooperate, NO Pelicans! Next hope was that Scoters would be mixed in with other more common flying ducks. NO Scoters either! Oh well, here's what I did see:
HORNED GREBE (1-flying south not north, 1 of the very few water birds not flying north today) Canada Goose (4-6 flying inland, not over the lake) Mallard (~35 flying north, the 3rd most common migrant duck species today) PINTAIL (2-PR flying north with Mallards) Green Winged Teal (4 flying north 2 with Mallards & 2 with Scaup) CANVASBACK (6 flying north with Scaup) Redhead (~20 flying north with Scaup) Greater Scaup (500-600 in some pretty large flocks both low to the water & high in the sky) Lesser Scaup (I could only pick out a few with the Greater's but probably more than I could tell) Common Goldeneye (50-60, the 2nd most common migrant duck species today) R.B. Merganser (only about 10, a low total considering how Mergs have been seen in high totals) (May have been Common Mergs as well but I couldn't prove it)
As usual Herring Gulls were flying back & forth over the lake & Ring Billed Gulls were on the beach. There seems to be a Gull division of labor at work here as this is the usual Gull situation. At 10 a.m. 2 calling Killdeer landed on the beach. Last year I had my 1st Killdeer of the year on 2-19 on the same beach. Maybe the same 2. I'll check again next year.
Since my original plan was to do a lot of walking I was not dressed warmly enough for a long lake watch so 2 hours was all I could manage. And the fog was getting thicker & some mist was starting so ducks that had been seen before farther out could no longer be seen. Time to quit! Besides I had a Burger King breakfast coupon so I had to get there before 11 a.m.
Bird-Of-The-Day to the flock of White Pelicans off S. Blvd Beach & Runner-Up to the close fly-by Horned Grebe. Both those species were new year birds for me & the Pelicans are always a good sighting for Cook County. Honorable Mention to the flying Pintail & Canvasbacks.
Al Stokie In Cook County making the best of a bad weather day
------------------------------------ Posted by: Al Stokie <alstokie99...> ------------------------------------