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Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Sun, 04/26/2015 - 3:59pm

Event date:

Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 8:00am to 10:00am 



Hello to All,

It was one of those rainy mornings when staying at home and enjoying another cup of coffee seemed the best option. But since the rain was not heavy, I knew that birders would be showing up in the east parking lot. So I packed up my birding bag and drove out of the garage.

I live in the South Loop area, on Prairie Avenue, which is the first residential street west of Soldier Field. As I was pulling out of the garage, I noticed two of our resident American Crows perched quietly on a bench in my neighbor’s yard. They were silent and looking intently down atspring greenery. I followed their gaze. A Sora slowly walked out of the leaves. It crossed the driveway and sheltered in a doorway. The crows followed but never made a sound. Attached are a couple of photos. It was a good omen for the day to come.

Mark W., Jennie S., Jenny Y. and I sat in the car for a while and devised a route for our Walk. Edith H. was already checking out the East Lagoon. We decided to walk back and forth through Bobolink Meadow.

Wooded Island and the East and West Lagoons are now inaccessible. An expensive high chain link fence has enclosed Wooded Island and the East and West Lagoons.  It was announced in the local paper that access would not be allowed until the fall. Draining of the lagoons continues. There is a stench arising from the West Lagoon.

After two hours we were soaked.  Nothing too unusual was sighted. Due to the rain the birds were not very active.

Jennie S. and I had breakfast at Salonica’s with Karin D. and Karin C. It was around noon when we finished. I wanted to do some car birding and invited them along. After a brief pause, Karin C. said, “Sure.” Then Karin D. decided that home chores could wait and she would come along too. Jennie S. had an event to attend in the afternoon, and took a pass, since our end time was not predictable.  I assured all that this experience would likely prove to be nothing more than a pleasant waste of time. Jennie S. is now convinced that when she cannot join in a rambling road birding trip, we are sure to find a rarity. And we surely did; x 2!

The highlight of our road trip was finding not one but two Snowy Egrets, a single bird in two locations on the southeast side of the City. Their bright golden feet were unmistakable.

We thought that was enough for a great day of birding serendipitously. I checked my emails and found that Carl G., who we met at the start of our Walk, went to the 63rd St. Beach and found a Piping Plover at 9 a.m. We decided to give locating the plover ourselves a try. Thanks to the quick eyes of Karin D. the plover was seen scampering over the sand. All three of us were able to see it hunkered down from 30 feet away.  I endorsed the plover over to Glyn Dawson, who provided me with a photo.

What a day! Lessons learned:

  1. Bad weather = good birding.

  2. Timing is everything.

  3. Just go outside and see what you can see.

We have an alternate route planned for our Walks that will take us through the Meadow and along the lakefront and back to the east parking lot. We will continue the Walks while the restoration work is being done, and report on conditions. After forty years of organized bird walks, they will continue. Birders always show up. Always.

BIRDERS:      5          Jennie S., Mark W., Jenny Y., Edith H., and Pat D.

TIME:                         8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m./3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

PLACES:                    Bobolink Meadow, 63rd Street Beach.

Extension trip to:

  • Wolf Lake (William Powers Conservation Area) -Entrance at Avenue O & 126th St, Chicago, IL

  • 126th Marsh -Entrance road is marked by a red and white sign “Peco”sign on the north side of 126thStreet. The cross road on 126th Street is 2924 E. The entrance is three-tenths of a mile east of Torrence Avenue in Chicago. After turning into the parking lot, keep to the right and follow Indian Creek, as it directs you north. The Creek empties into a Lake Michigan turning basin.

  • Indian Ridge Marsh – Along the north side of 122nd Street, between Torrence Avenue on the east and the railroad tracks on the west, in Chicago.

WEATHER:    Cloudy, cold and windy with continuous light rain. Temperature 40 – 43 F. Wind ENE 15 – 15 mph. It was a wet wintry-type morning. We were drenched. 


Jackson Park:  38

                                                Beyond Jackson Park Additions:  10

X = commonly seen and/or not counted.

This is a group report. Mark Webster contributed his lists for the Bobolink Meadow area and for his late afternoon stop at 63rd Street Beach in search of the Piping Plover.

Bobolink Meadow/North Lagoon/Soccer Field – 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

  1. Canada Goose – X.

  2. Wood Duck – 7. Five males and two females.

  3. Gadwall – 2. Male/Female pair.

  4. Mallard – X.

  5. Blue-winged Teal – 8.

  6. Red-breasted Merganser – 6. Three males. Three females. North Lagoon/Basin.

  7. Double-crested Cormorant – 1 perched. A few fly overs.

  8. Black-crowned Night Heron – 1.

  9. Solitary Sandpiper – 1.

  10. Ring-billed Gull – X. Large group on the soccer field.

  11. Caspian Tern – 2

  12. Mourning Dove - 1.

  13. Monk Parakeet – 2.

  14. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1.

  15. Downy Woodpecker – 2.

  16. Northern Flicker – 1. Female.

  17. N. Rough-winged Swallow – 8.

  18. Cliff Swallow – 2.

  19. Barn Swallow – 3

  20. American Crow - 1.

  21. Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 5.

  22. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 4.

  23. Hermit Thrush – 1.

  24. American Robin – X.

  25. European Starling – X. Several small flocks.

  26. Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1.

  27. Song Sparrow – 10.

  28. Swamp Sparrow – 3.

  29. White-throated Sparrow – 70.

  30. Dark-eyed Junco – 4.

  31. Northern Cardinal – X.

  32. Red-winged Blackbird – X.

  33. Meadowlark – 1. Flew from driving range to Meadow grasses. Species type unknown.

  34. Brown-headed Cowbird – 3. Male/Female pair together.

63rd Street Beach – 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  1. Piping Plover – 1. Rare. Found at 9 a.m. by Carl G. whom we met at the start of our Walk. He reported finding several birds more than we did in Bobolink Meadow and on the mudflats. Two Piping Plovers were seen in the early afternoon. Karin C., Karin D., and I saw the bird around 3:45 p.m. when it scampered ten yards in front of us, seeking shelter in a dip in the sand from the strong east wind off the Lake. I showed Glyn Dawson the plover. He was took an excellent photo, which is attached to this report, with his permission. But, alas, birders who showed up after 4 p.m., including Mark Webster, were not able to relocate the bird.

  2. Osprey – 1. Reported by Mark.

  3. American Kestrel – 1. Reported by Mark.

  4. Caspian Tern – 20. On the beach.

  5. Ring-billed Gull – X. Abundant.

  6. American Coot – 1.

  7. Red-breasted Merganser- X. Abundant out on the Lake.

  8. Double-crested Cormorant – X. Abundant. Large flocks of 30 or more birds would take off from the Lake and fly a few hundred yards and land again a fifty yards from shore.

Wolf Lake (William Powers Conservation Area): 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Rain. Car-birding.

  1. Canada Goose – X.

  2. Mute Swan – 4. One appeared to be on a nest on the Indiana side of State Line Road.

  3. Mallard – 3.

  4. Blue-winged Teal – 10.

  5. Bufflehead – 2. Male & Female. Indiana side.

  6. Red-breasted Merganser – 2. Male & Female.

  7. Ruddy Duck – 9. In a tight raft at the north end of Wolf Lake, east of the RR tracks.

  8. Double-crested Cormorant – 1.

  9. Great Egret – 1. Arrived as we were leaving.

  10. American Coot – 44. Illinois/Indiana sides combined.

  11. Killdeer – 3. Flew along State Line Road and near our car. Their beautiful reddish orange rump feathers were seen in flight as they came near the car.

  12. Ring-billed Gull- X.

  13. Belted Kingfisher – 1. Female.

  14. American Robin – X.

  15. Northern Cardinal – 1. Male.

  16. Red-winged Blackbird – X.

  17. Common Grackle – 1.

126th Street Marsh: 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Rain. Car-birding.

  1. Snowy Egret – 1. “Golden slippers” seen. White overall. 24 inches in length. Rare find. Posted immediately on IBET.

  2. Great Egret – 2. Nearby and in flight. 39 inches in length.

  3. Great Blue Heron – 1. Nearby. 43 inches in length.

Indian Ridge Marsh and Ponds: 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Rain tapering off. Car-birding.

  1. Snowy Egret – 1. OMG! Another one! So near the car that the “golden slippers” were easy to see. Then it flew up on a branch above the other herons. Posted a second time on IBET.

  2. Great Egret – 8.

  3. Great Blue Heron – 2.

  4. Black-crowned Night Heron – 1.

  5. Double-crested Cormorant – 2.

  6. Mallard – X.

  7. Blue-winged Teal – 11. Pond on the southwest corner of Torrence Ave. & 122nd St.

  8. Northern Shoveler – 4. Males. Pond on SW corner of Torrence Ave. & 122nd St.

Corrections, additions and comments are welcome.

Recordings are not used to attract birds.

This report will be recorded on eBird as a group report for the Wooded Island Bird Walks.

The Walks are free and open to one and all. They are held year round. Birders always show up near Darrow Bridge at the start times. Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

Noteon Darrow Bridge: Darrow Bridge has been barricaded by the Department of Transportation. No one can cross. A high black metal iron fence has been erected on all four sides. It appears that the fence will remain in place until Darrow Bridge is completely rebuilt, which could be more than a year. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

Birders meet in the East parking lot, and walk around the North Lagoon/Basin and across the south steps of the Museum to get to Wooded Island.

The Walks start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Please note: The Wednesday morning Walks have been decommissioned. An informal group often meets, but the start time varies and the distance traveled can be curtailed.

Metered parking is available east of Darrow Bridge and is accessible from South Lake Shore Drive at 57th Street (labeled Science Drive on a small blue street sign). There is a Stop Light at 57th Street. Make a turn at the Stop Light towards the Museum. Turn Left (south) at the intersection of Science Drive and Columbia Drive. Go through the parking lot to the west end.

Note on Parking and Lots: While restoration is ongoing, heavy equipment has taken over half of the east parking lot, off of South Lake Shore Drive, and half of the southwest parking lot which has an entrance off of Hayes Drive (63rd St.) and just east of Cornell Drive. Birders will be able to find metered parking in both lots. The east lot is the preferred one, as it is located nearest the Darrow Bridge. The southwest parking lot would require that the entire Wooded Island be walked northward, and to cross the North Bridge to reach Darrow Bridge.  There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 58th to 56th Street.

Best of Birding to Al

Earlier Event: April 18
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: May 2
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report