Monday, January 25, 2010

Calumet flyway

Birders frequent some strange places. Dumps, wastewater discharges, landfills and water treatment plants are just a few of the places where we like to look for birds. (In fact, an article about birders at New York's Freshkills Landfill appeared in today's New York Times.) That's why I found myself in a litter-strewn industrial area along the Calumet River yesterday (above), observing gulls and mergansers. There's something about being in such obscure places that is strangely appealing. Our vantage point was where Stony Island Blvd., a single lane stretch of asphalt at that point, dead-ends into the river.

A Chicago Ornithological Society field trip took us to several points along Chicago's lakefront. It was a cold, rainy, windy day yet there was much avian activity. It wasn't a prolific day for species--I saw 31--but there were hundreds and probably thousands of ducks and gulls in the southern end of Lake Michigan. Highlights included a glaucous gull, four great black-backed gulls and two types of scoter. At Hammond Marina, we saw a pair of peregrine falcons fly right past Horseshoe Casino. Along the Calumet, we missed the uncommon birds by one day--an iceland gull and a northern shrike were seen near there the day before. Still, great fun on a damp winter day.

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