Twenty-one observers gathered at the Gale Street Restaurant parking lot at 8am on April 1st to have coffee, muffins, and bagels before setting off to explore several of the nearly 200 lakes in Lake and McHenry Counties in search of loons and other waterbirds.
Several close-in observations of Common Loons were had at Diamond Lakes Mundelein Park District boat launch; while several loons were heard calling early, most of the day the loons were quiet (at all locations). The best observation, however, was the adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree across the lake.
We, then headed out to our first stop: Long Lake. The first large group of loons were 28 loons on this stretched out lake, and here we observed lingering Common Mergansers and a nice alternate-plumaged Horned Grebe.
On Pistakee Lake and Bay we observed at total of 52 loons and several nice groups of Ruddy Ducks. Three migrant Bonaparte’s Gulls were seen along with several arrival Tree Swallows. On this huge lake we saw our first pelicans (44) many of which were on an island in McHenry County.
At our traditional Sandbar Bar & Grille spot, we witnessed an amazing spectacle of kettling American White Pelicans with over 600 pelicans riding thermals overhead in multiple groups of 100-200 birds each. Loons were also quite common with 19 seen off the Sandbar.
Later, we observed more ducks including good numbers of Redhead, Canvasbacks, Ring-necked Ducks and Lesser Scaup.
Returning to the Gale Street Restaurant, 10 birders stayed to have a wonderful lunch at the Gale Street Restaurant. A total of 104 Common Loons were encountered on this trip, another successful Loonapaloonza!
by David Johnson