Saturday, October 9, 2010

Seeking birdies

I've written before about how golf courses are good spots to espy wildlife. Yesterday was a glorious day in Chicago, sunny with temperatures in the upper 70s. I was fortunate to play a late afternoon round at Marovitz Golf Course, the historic Waveland Avenue course. It may be one of the most unique courses in the country, fitting snugly into the space between Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive at about 3600 North. Many of the holes offer stunning backdrops of high-rises and historic buildings and of course Lake Michigan. All the better with leaves turning orange and purple and red.

It's also a great spot to encounter the natural world--I've seen a fox on the course as well as lots of birds. My favorite spot is the pond on the sixth hole (above). There I've seen beavers and sandpipers and night-herons. Yesterday, a great blue heron. Until this year, there was wonderful tangle of woods between the pond and Montrose Harbor (roughly where the green isthmus appears above). It was a place where the golf course dumped tree stumps and logs and was generally left alone. New management, I believe, carved a little road into the area and took out all the undergrowth and trees. It was a great migrant trap, and I enjoyed hanging out here peering into the grove from the other side of the golf course fence.

Still, the golf course itself nearly matches Montrose Point, about a quarter-mile away from the sixth hole, in terms of birding possibilities. Yesterday I saw my first dark-eyed juncos of the season, as well as brown creepers, fox sparrows, kinglets and hermit thrushes. The sixth hole, though, now has a better view of the harbor.

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