03 de marzo de 2021

Why you should go Outside when you have a 5 minute break.

During remote learning, I have a lot more flexibility with my day's schedule. I can walk around for a couple minutes if I need to, and in breaks between classes I can go outside and look for birds. Just now, I walked outside and had 10 species in 2 minutes. Best bird was a flyover Horned Lark. I've also had times when I've gone outside and had other things like Little-blue Heron and Mississippi Kite flying over my Chicago house.

Anotado en miércoles, 03 de marzo de 2021 a las 07:33 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de febrero de 2021

New Research Project

Now it may seem silly, but I have been assigned a personal project for school. The topic ideas they give you are things like make a poster for the school, or start a club at the school. Knowing me, I'd never do something like that when I could make my project about getting out every weekend to one of my favorite places ever. I'll be conducting 3 different photo-based documentation projects. Salamanders, Trees and birds all in set locations around Palos. Today I found 25 species of trees at 2 different spots. Not too exciting bird-wise, I had 25 species. The best bird was an immature Red-shouldered Hawk. They really seem to be booming this winter in the Chicago area. That's all for day one, I'll hopefully be doing some more exploring tomorrow, but that's all for today.

Anotado en domingo, 14 de febrero de 2021 a las 05:24 AM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de enero de 2021

Mr. Lasley’s Passing

Greg Lasley passed away this evening from double lung transplant. This is a very sad day and I’ll say that I am heartbroken. A mentor to thousands here on iNat and in the birding, odonata and naturalist communities, his legacy will forever live on. 2021 is throwing challenge after challenge at us.
I missed meeting Greg by one day a while back. There is no way that I could go back and make it different, although I wish with every fiber in my being that I could. Greg was an inspiration to me, and I don't know if I would be where I am now. In short conversation with him here on iNat, I could tell that he was one of the most caring and knowledgeable people ever. His knowledge and kindness pushed me in 2020 to try to become a better naturalist and birder. I greatly miss him. Rest In Peace @greglasley

Anotado en domingo, 31 de enero de 2021 a las 04:16 AM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de enero de 2021

A Day for the Books!

Yesterday a Brant showed up at Waukegan Beach in Lake County, IL. I went to go for it as it is a really good bird. Later in the day it was seen flying south along the lakefront by @vnevirkov. Someone predicted that it's next stop would be Montrose, and they were 100% right. I just wish I had my new camera today, it would've been amazing. The Brant would walk up to you within 12 feet and just sit there. My digibins don't do the bird justice. We also saw a Tundra Swan off the end of the pier which was a new bird for my hotspot list. I'm sitting at 240 for Montrose with the Brant! Later in the day I saw that @henrygriffin and @ieobrien refound a Northern Bobwhite at Wolf lake, which we went and got. I think it could be the bird that summers at Egger's Grove just overwintering. Driving down to the end of the road at Wolf Lake we found Mute and Trumpeter Swans which gave us all 3 possible swans to find in the L48 in one day! I played a mob-tape and a Carolina Wren burst out in its descending call.

Not an insane day, but still a really fun one!

Anotado en domingo, 03 de enero de 2021 a las 10:56 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de enero de 2021

The End of the Biggest Year

"Now that my friend, is a very big year" -Stu Preissler

On January 1st I decided to accompany my best friend on his first day of birding for his newly announced 2020 Cook County Big Year. I just wanted to see the birds as I saw them, and I never thought I'd end up where I did. He would always text me, "Promise you aren't doing a full on Big Year, ok." I promised that, but then the pandemic hit us all, and I was holed up in my house for about two months with nearly no new birds. I went into the pandemic at 107 species. As soon as we started getting to the end of the school year my work became a lot more flexible and we were able to safely go more places and chase nearly every birds. At the end of May I was at 234 species in Cook. That is fairly mediocre, but still somewhat above average. Over the summer I grinded for the breeders and found a super clutch rarity while looking for another rarity that disappeared. By the start of fall migration, I was already at 257 species! That is a solid county year list for anyone. From the start of fall migration I added enough birds to tie the record Isoo broke, and beat it by two! I'm siting at 283 species as of 7:00 p.m. on December 31. Someone would have to go out and find us a Boreal Owl or something for anyone to add another bird this year hahaha. Anyways, the pandemic for many people ruined their year in a way, but I decided that I was going to make it full of everything I wanted to do as long as it was safe. I saw 1,640 species of living things, 303 species of birds in the state of IL, and broke the old Cook County Big Year record, among other amazing things. Some people are saying that 2021 is literally saying "2020, won" but it sure didn't win over me!

My best birds of the year for Cook County:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Ross's Goose
Harlequin Duck
Northern Bobwhite
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Red-necked Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
King Rail
Purple Gallinule
American Avocet
American Golden-Plover
Whimbrel
Red Knot
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Sabine's Gull
Little Gull
Black Tern
Neotropic Cormorant
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
Northern Goshawk
Eurasian Tree-Sparrow
Evening Grosbeak
White-winged Crossbill
Cassin's Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Worm-eating Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Townsend's Warbler

Ba-boom. That is truly a big year.

Anotado en viernes, 01 de enero de 2021 a las 01:18 AM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de diciembre de 2020

KING EIDER - Fall/Winter Rarity Finding in Chicago : Journal #3

The King Eider is a large sea duck from the New England area and high arctic. Within their range, they can be found in very large flocks with other ducks and waterfowl.
When King Eiders venture inland, they are almost always never adults in breeding or transitioning plumage, meaning that they won't have that striking, silky black and white body with a beautiful blue head and orange forehead knob.
A young male King Eider will be overall chocolatey brown with darker brown mottling. Some will have a partially orange bill and a small knob, but can also have a solid black or dark gray bill with very little trace of the forehead knob. Another thing to look for is the very interestingly patterned belly. It is a gray and brown scaled pattern on the lower breast and the rest of the belly is covered with fine brown barring. The upper breast is usually white with some scattered scaling.
In flight, a young male King Eider will have dark underwings with a white or light gray triangle from the axilleries somewhat bleeding over into the secondary underwing coverts. On the upperwing, there is no brightly colored speculum, but there is a white border on the inner secondaries stopping at the trailing edge and secondary coverts.
King Eiders are sea ducks, and have large and strong feet and yellow legs that are a dull yellowish-orange coloration for paddling through the harsh, winter, Atlantic surf.
King Eiders are fairly large, about half the size of a Canada Goose. They are very bulky bodied with extremely rear placed legs. They are not well suited for walking on land, similar to many other water birds.

BEST MONTH TO FIND ONE - November - February
WHERE TO FIND ONE - Overall Lake Michigan shoreline. Waters off beaches, harbors, piers are all great places to look. The Chicago River, Calumet River and Little Calumet River turning basins are great places to look as the water in the turning basins usually stays open even when the rest of the rivers freeze over.
IDEAL CONDITIONS TO FIND ONE - Strong easterly winds particularly from the New England region in the range of time specified. November is always the best month to potentially find one, but February also has multiple records.

SIDE NOTE - The Common Eider is another Atlantic sea duck closely related to the King Eider, and multiple have found their way to the Great Lakes region in the past. Common Eiders are exponentially rarer though. You would likely find one in the nonbreeding season, so the plumage you might find one in would look similar to a King Eider. Common Eiders are a bit larger, sit lower in the water, more like a Common Loon, are darker brown and more finely barred overall, and have a longer, solid black bill, closer in appearance to the bill of a White-winged scoter.

My own iNat observation - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67104142
eBird link for more photos - https://ebird.org/species/kineid

Also sorry for the delay on this one, I was just super busy yesterday with the festivities all happening at once, and I'll be doing one a day from now on!

Anotado en sábado, 26 de diciembre de 2020 a las 09:22 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de diciembre de 2020

EURASIAN WIGEON - Fall/Winter Rarity Finding in Chicago : Journal #2

The Eurasian Wigeon is a dabbling duck from the Old World that has begun to make itself home in numbers on the Pacific coast and most of the Atlantic Coast as well. In Eurasia where they are the most common, you will find dozens or even hundreds on small lakes and ponds during waterfowl migration.
The Eurasian Wigeon adult male (Ad. M.) in breeding plumage (which will be in the fall through the spring as some waterfowl breed in the winter or early spring) will be very easy to pick out in flocks or rafts of sitting ducks. Immediately, the most visible field mark is the bright coppery head with an even brighter yellowish forehead and crown stripe. The American Wigeons we have here have a dull green head with a white crown stripe.
The Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeon will also be overall brighter gray compared to most of our dabbling ducks. Even at a distance an Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeon will appear to be nearly white bodied compared to our more buffy or brownish-pink bodied American Wigeons.Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeons will have a buffy-orange breast though.
An Ad. M. nonbreeding plumage Eurasian Wigeon will look nearly entirely coppery overall compared to the duller buffy with a dark head of the American Wigeon. Finding a Eurasian Wigeon in this plumage will be far less likely than finding one in breeding plumage though.
An adult female Eurasian Wigeon (Ad. F.) will average grayer and somewhat less patterned than an Ad. F. American Wigeon. An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will have a buffier or warmer brown head coloration rather than the dull gray-brown head of an Ad. F. American Wigeon.
An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will lack a very thin black border around the gape which an Ad. F. American Wigeon has.
An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will also likely have gray outer-tail feathers, which can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from the buffier outer-tail feathers of an Ad. F. American Wigeon.
In flight, the Eurasian wigeon will have no white on the secondary coverts and a completely gray underwing rather than the white strip on the secondary coverts and white axilleries and center of the wing on the American Wigeon. Eurasian Wigeons may also appear to have more of a "pin-tail" than the American Wigeon.
As far as the hybrids go, field marks to look for an include a small amount of bright green on an Ad. M. in breeding plumage Eurasian Wigeon's head, more buffy coloration on the body overall, or even a buffier face with a more dark coppery coloration.
Eurasian Wigeons will likely associate with American Wigeons, Gadwall, Mallards and pretty much any other flocks of dabbling ducks.

BEST MONTH TO FIND ONE - April, September-November
WHERE TO FIND ONE - Inland, small lakes and ponds in the Palos forest preserve area, small lakes and ponds in the Calumet area, small lakes and ponds in the NW and NE suburbs.
IDEAL CONDITIONS TO FIND ONE - Strong winds from the upper East coast, or even winds from overseas in Eurasia can cause one to land on lakes and ponds around in the Chicago area. In the time ranges mentioned above, if you pass by a small lake or pond in the areas I mentioned above, stop to scan through all of the ducks to to to spot one. Looking in the hard to access, back corners of ponds and lakes can be very rewarding.

My own iNat observation for a photo of how you might find one on a pond - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/65362427
eBird link for more detailed photos - https://ebird.org/species/eurwig

Eurasian Wigeon is a species known to sometimes hybridize with our extremely common American Wigeon, and the hybrids can sometimes be difficult to pick out.

Anotado en jueves, 24 de diciembre de 2020 a las 03:35 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de diciembre de 2020

BRANT - Fall/Winter Rarity Finding in Chicago : Journal #1

To kick off my journal of finding rarities in the months of September-December in Chicago, I thought I'd start off going taxonomically. The first rarity is Brant.

The Brant (Branta bernicla), is a coastal and high arctic bird with a tendency to wander inland. There are 4 different typed to be found, the, 'Black', 'Black-bellied', 'Gray-bellied' and 'Atlantic' subspecies. Going in the order I put them, the plumages get gradually lighter. Throughout its range, you can find large flocks, mixed with other species of geese and ducks, or flocks of only Brant.
The 'Black' Brant tends to be overall sooty black with the classic brant white "necklace", white feathers on the mid-flanks, snowy-white vent/undertail-coverts and rump.
This subspecies is the Eurasian subspecies, so anyone would be hard-pressed finding on in the US, much less Chicago. The 'Black-bellied' Brant tends to be a sootier gray overall with a contrasting breast and belly. The breast, head and neck will be solid black minus the white "necklace", and the belly will be gray that goes up and over the wings and mantle with limited white on the mid-flanks.
The 'Gray-bellied' Brant tends to be more pale than the 'Black-bellied' with more extensive white on the flanks, and a paler gray on the belly and back. The white "necklace" tends to be less pronounced on this subspecies.
The 'Atlantic' (or 'Pale-bellied') Brant is the palest of them all. They nearly have a completely white belly and flanks, but they usually have some light gray barring. The black head, neck and breast is more contrasting with the belly on this subspecies. They are also the the most vagrant subspecies out of the 4.
All subspecies will have black corners to the tail, which is most visible in flight. They also all have a very acute black triangle extending down the middle of the rump and upper-tail coverts.
Brant average to be much smaller than your everyday Canada Goose. Brant average smaller than the much more common Cackling Goose, but variability in size is always prevalent in birds.
Both sexes are alike plumage-wise.

BEST MONTH TO FIND ONE November-December
WHERE TO FIND ONE: Lakefront grassy lawns/parks with flocks of Canada Geese. Inland grassy parks with flocks of Canada Geese is a good place to look too.
IDEAL CONDITIONS TO FIND ONE: Strong easterly winds, typically from somewhere on the east coast, but even northeasterly winds from Lake Ontario at this time can potentially produce them.
eBird link for photos: https://ebird.org/species/brant/US-IL-031

I hope that this can be of some assistance, and I'll be posting one a day until I run out of birds to write about!

Anotado en miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2020 a las 09:15 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de diciembre de 2020

Rare Bird Journal for Birders

A while back I made a post talking about fall (bird) rarity finding in the Chicago area. I think it is now time to go very in depth and start doing individual species accounts that tell you what species can be found where around Chicago, when, which habitats, images of the habitats, the birds and pretty much anything you need to know about those species. I might start by doing just fall, and then branching out to spring, winter and summer.

All for now,
Simon

Anotado en viernes, 11 de diciembre de 2020 a las 02:05 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de diciembre de 2020

New Personal iNat Project

Hey guys,
I realized that i did not meet my goal of getting to 2,000 species of living things observed in 2020. I was just recently looking through lots and lots of pictures from the year and noticed with my more keen eyes that there were a lot of things that I just missed, like galls on plants in the outer edges of photos, or trees something is perched on. For the next while I will be going through this year's photos, cropping them and uploading as many observations as I can to see how many new species I can get. I predict that it will be between 20-30. I'm starting at 2136 total species and 9,623 observations. What do you think?

EDIT I ended with 10,108 observations and 2,316 species! 180 new self-ID'd species!
All for now,
Simon

Anotado en miércoles, 09 de diciembre de 2020 a las 11:42 PM por brdnrdr brdnrdr | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario