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Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 6:08pm

Event date:

Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 8:00am 



Hello to All,

The Walk began in a thick fog that released its grip after an hour. Migration sightings are just beginning. The Eastern Meadowlark and Golden-crowned Kinglet were welcomed.

Post Jackson Park Birding Adventure:

As we were heading over to the Outer Harbor, a few of us discussed continuing birding in nearby Indiana. Young Ben S. had the courage to speak up and ask if he could tag along. Sure! His goal was to break through a 100 Life Birds. Permission was granted via a phone call to parent.

 Off we went on our Mission to break 100 species on Ben’s Life List. With Karin D. in the front seat, and Ben, Karin C., and Jennie S. in the back seat, we arrived at our first important stop: breakfast at Sunrise Restaurant in Whiting, IN. Thus fortified, we stopped at Roxanna Marsh in East Chicago, Indiana, on our way to Gibson Woods in Hammond, Indiana.  We like Gibson Woods because we bird from easy chairs looking out on multiple feeding stations.  Ben picked up a few Lifers there.

A goal was to add Sandhill Crane to his Life List. A big migration happened the day before. It was a long shot. We traveled over to Wolf Lake and Ben got a few more Lifers: Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, Sharp-shinned Hawk. We broke through 100 species for Ben.

We took a detour home along Stony Island Ave, from 122nd St north. At Big Marshentrance, we parked and put the scope on not one but four American Bald Eagles!They were perched in separate trees on the west side of the road along Big Marsh. It was not a Lifer for Ben but we all enjoyed the special gathering within the borders of Cook County.

With fading light, Karin D. spotted a broken strand of birds high up and far away to the west of us. Could it be? Yes! A flock of twenty-five Sandhill Cranes flew low over our heads! Check that one off on Ben’s Life List. We had great fun on our day’s adventure and Ben exceeded his goal.

In Memoriam

Leonardo (Leo) Herzenberg died suddenly this past week. Leo and his wife Carolyn (Carol) have been members of the Wooded Island Bird Walks since their inception in the 1970’s. Leo was smart and soft spoken. He would nail a subject with a few words. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Carol and family and their circle of friends. In time, we hope that Carol will join the Walks once again and find solace. As we walk through the Meadow, a Song Sparrow will likely fly to a perch nearby. It will turn its face up to the sky and belt out a song that would do Ethel Merman proud. For a brief a moment, or a few, all our losses, sorrows and hurts will melt away. We will live in the present moment and be glad. What more can we expect or accomplish in this life?

BIRDERS:      11.       (1) Al L. – Long Time No See, who walked the fence line for us.Saw the Swamp Sparrow along the Meadow fence and caught sight of the Brown Creeper as we were getting back into our cars. (2) Karin C., (3) Laurel R. who discovered the Golden-crowned Kinglet near the SW corner of the Music Bridge. (4) Ben S. Evanston High School sophomore who planned to get public transportation back home, but that was all modified as described in the narrative portion. (5) Jennie S., (6) Marian N. from Indiana, a frequenter of the Walks. (7) Karin D., post India and Nepal traveler. (8) Tracy W. our photographer, (9) Renate G., (10) Edith H.,  and (11) Pat D.

Weekly cameo appearance was made by our bird dog “Copper” with his human companion Doug. Karin D. had the rewarding dog biscuit treat for Copper, his new best friend.

TIME:             8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – Birding extensions ran to 5 p.m. 

PLACES:        Bobolink Meadow, Lakefront and Outer Harbor

WEATHER:    Dense fog until 9 a.m. Temperature 40 – 51 F. Winds SE 5 – 10 mph.

TOTAL SPECIES COUNT:   27 in Jackson Park.

X = commonly seen and/or not counted.

  1. Canada Goose – X. Our banded birds have returned and are struggling to find nesting sites on the islands that are torn asunder and have PVC pipes crisscrossing the area.

  2. Mallard – 6. Three male/female pairs in the lagoon. Others in Outer Harbor.

  3. Bufflehead – 3. One male/Two female. Outer Harbor.

  4. Common Goldeneye – 1. Male. Remains alone in Marina. Others in Other Harbor.

  5. Red-breasted Merganser – 8. Male 2/Female 2 in Marina. M/F pair East Lagoon and Outer Harbor.

  6. HORNED GREBE – 2. Outer Harbor.

  7. Grebe – Species ? East Lagoon. Spotted by Laurel R.

  8. Large Raptor – Species? Seen by Karin C. and another birder. In flight pattern west of Wooded Island. Crows in pursuit.

  9. American Coot – X. Outer Harbor.

  10. Ring-billed Gull – X.

  11. Monk Parakeet – 3. Flew in and perched on tree near golf shack. Six full grown trees have been cut down south of the golf shack. Why?

  12. Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1.

  13. Downy Woodpecker – 2. A male and female.

  14. American Crow – 3.

  15. BROWN CREEPER – 1. Climbing trees near SW corner of parking lot.

  16. GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET – 1. Heard and seen by Laurel R. SW corner of Music Bridge.

  17. American Robin – 4.

  18. European Starling – 12.

  19. American Tree Sparrow – 5. NE corner of Music Bridge.

  20. Song Sparrow – 7. Singing.

  21. Swamp Sparrow – 1.

  22. Dark-eyed Junco – 1.

  23. Northern Cardinal – 4. Three males and one female.

  24. Red-winged Blackbird – 2. Calling.

  25. EASTERN MEADOWLARK – 1. Spotted long distance by Al L. Perched on easterly most tree nearest to 63rd St. Pier. Many fishermen were on the pier, casting ten to fifteen yards out. No water birds were near the pier and none off the lakefront.

  26. House Finch – X.

  27. House Sparrow – 2.

This is a group report, with many birders contributing to the list. Most of the birds were seen by at least several or all of the birders.

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.Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

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.

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

Birders meet in the southwest corner of the East Parking Lot. Wooded Island is closed off by a fence while work in being done. Birders walk through Bobolink Meadow and view the eastside of Wooded Island and the East Lagoon.

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 in the East Parking Lot that 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.

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 Parking Lot is preferred. There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 56th to 59th Street.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Earlier Event: March 5
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: April 2
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report