Chicago Lakefront Winter Field Trip Report

One day after the Gull Frolic on February 12th, a small group of birders joined gull expert, Amar Ayyash, and Gull Frolic speaker, Jean Iron, for a day of birding along the Lake Michigan lakeshore. The main target of this excursion was winter gulls and waterfowl. Much like the Gull Frolic finding masses of gulls was extremely difficult without the ice cover that would normally be found on a Chicago winter day along the lake. Birders assembled on this balmy winter day (topping out at 50 degrees) at the Calumet River Turning Basin Number 5 at 8:30 am. Almost immediately at 8:30 am the continuing second cycle California Gull was spotted and gave a brief flyby before disappearing down the river. With few gulls in the area overall, Amar eagerly chummed hoping to bring in something else good for the group to no avail. After the California Gull left us the only other gulls observed were Ring-billed and Herring gulls circling the basin, with a couple Common and Red-breasted Mergansers flying by.

Scoping for Gulls on Lake Michigan

Scoping for Gulls on Lake Michigan

The group then started a caravan for the BP warm water outlet in Whiting, IN. Along the way we made a brief stop on 126th where a Red-shouldered Hawk was spotted perched on a power line along the roadside. After everyone got a look at the hawk the caravan continued to Whiting where about 70 gulls were present near the BP outlet. Among the flock of primarily Herring Gulls we picked up 5 Great Black-backed Gulls and 18 Common Goldeneye out further in the lake. However, those were the only new birds for the day at this stop despite Amar’s effort to chum the beach. From Whiting, the group headed to Calumet Park which lacked in birds other than the couple hundred Canada Geese near shore in the water. After that brief stop the group headed to Jackson Park which netted a few more duck species: Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, and Bufflehead, in addition to other birds such as American Coot and American Crow. However, there were once again few gulls so this proved to be our last stop of the trip. Maybe not the most exciting winter birding day, but we definitely willed our way to a few good bird species on the day.

Thank you to all that attended the trip and Amar for leading the group down and up the lakeshore!

Species totals:

200 Canada Goose
14 Mallard
3 Redhead
1 Ring-necked Duck
21 Greater Scaup
3 Bufflehead
18 Common Goldeneye
2 Common Merganser
30 Red-breasted Merganser
1 Cooper’s Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
5 American Coot
40 Ring-billed Gull
60 Herring Gull
5 Great Black-backed Gull
11 American Crow
3 European Starling
1 Red-winged Blackbird
2 House Sparrow

Locations: BP Warm Water Outlet; Calumet Park, Chicago; Jackson Park, Chicago–Inner/Outer Harbors; Jackson Park, Chicago–north lakefront (56th St. to 62nd St.); Lake Calumet area–126th St Marsh/Hyde Lake Wetlands; Lake Calumet area–Calumet River Turning Basin Number 5

by Matt Igleski

IOS Honors Denis Bohm and Geoff Williamson

At the 2017 IOS Gull Frolic, IOS honored Denis Bohm and Geoff Williamson for their services to both IOS and the Illinois Birding Community. Each was the recipient of donated framed custom artwork, produced by a current or former member of Illinois Young Birders (ILYB).

Denis Bohm (left); Geoff Williamson (right)

Denis Bohm (left); Geoff Williamson (right)

Denis Bohm has been a long time fixture with IOS. Denis has served on the Board of Directors, held the Recording Secretary position, and most recently chaired the Recognition Committee. How fitting that he was recognized, right? Denis also continues the thankless job of picking up the IOS mail from its post office box. Denis received a drawing of a Yellow-headed Blackbird by ILYB alum, Nandu Dubey. Thank you, Denis!

Geoff Williamson is a former president of IOS and Board member, and currently the head of the Illinois Ornithological Records (IORC) and Ornithological Records Data Committees (ORDC). Geoff has worked tirelessly to ensure submissions of rare birds are documented and IORC decisions are swiftly communicated to the Illinois birding community. Geoff received a painting of Rufous Hummingbirds by current ILYB member, Luke Haberkorn. Congratulations, Geoff!

Rare Bird Alert – 23-Feb-2017

California Gull: Lake (North) – Adam Sell observed a first-cycle CALIFORNIA GULL at Channel Lake in Lake County on February 23rd.

Mew Gull: DuPage (North) – Mike Madsen reported a 2nd cycle MEW GULL from the 83rd St. Fluddle at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in DuPage County on February 18th.

Rare Bird Alert - 13-Feb-2017

Gyrfalcon by Tim Lindenbaum

Gyrfalcon: McLean (Central) – On the morning of February 13th, a Gyrfalcon was photographed by Tim Lindenbaum on N 3100 East Rd south of E 2450 North Rd. in Colfax, McLean County. Interestingly, a Gyrfalcon was observed and photographed in the same area last year.

California Gull: Cook (North) –

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2017 IOS Gull Frolic Field Trip Report

Scoping Lake Michigan

IOS hosted the 16th annual Gull Frolic on Saturday, February 11th, at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club in the northeast corner of the state. As temperatures soared toward 50F degrees and without any ice for the gulls to rest on, despite our best efforts to chum them in, it quickly became

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Common Loon

Join us for our annual LOONAPALOONZA with veteran “Loon Ranger,” David B. Johnson, as we travel in style on a mini-coach bus in search of migrating loons on the glacial lakes of Lake and McHenry Counties. Fee is $30/person. Space is limited to 24 participants.


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Rare Bird Alert – 4-Feb-2017

California Gull by Andrew Aldrich

California Gull: Cook (North) – On February 4th, a second cycle California Gull was photographed by Andrew Aldrich at Deadstick Pond in Chicago, Cook County.

Refinding the Painted Bunting

By Aaron Gyllenhaal, as told to Ted Wolff

The first thing I saw was a bird flying over me with a bright red belly. I got my binoculars on it and saw it land. The next thing I saw was a blue head and a green back, which is when I freaked out.

I went

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IORC Update – 31 Jan 2017

The Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC) recently concluded evaluation of 23 records of occurrence of rare birds in Illinois, accepting 20 and not accepting three. For each record, we indicate the species or form, with number of individuals in parentheses if greater than one, followed by date or date range, location, and county. At the

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An Interview with Andy Stewart by Beau Schaefer

Lake County Big Year record holder, Andy Stewart

Beau: So tell us a little bit about who “Andy Stewart” is. Andy: Well, I grew up in Texas and have always been interested in natural history. Collecting has also always been an interest of mine. I have a sort of “hoarding gene” if you will.

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