Sunday, November 27, 2005

Birding with Tom Prestby - 11/24/05

I spent my first day of Thanksgiving break on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan in search of rarities. We started out the day at the South Metro Pier where a Cave Swallow had been present earlier in the week. I had my doubts the bird would still be present, but I figured it was worth a try. We whiffed on Cave Swallow in the swirling snow but did see a 1st winter Franklin's Gull among about 40 Bonaparte's Gulls. Three Killdeer, a Long-tailed Duck, and a Song Sparrow. We missed the Mew Gull but we decided to check out North Point and see if we couldd get the red phalarope and then come back and check for the mew gull again.

A quick stop at North Point revealed my second ever Red Phalarope on the algae and beach. I watched it as it flew out into the water and swam around about 15 feet offshore. Also present were several Black and Surf Scoters. A male Ring-necked Duck was diving among the Scaup - a first for me on Lake Michigan...

South Shore Yacht Club held an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the rocks and not too much else.

Another stop at South Metro Pier came up with the Franklin's Gull again as well as an adult Mew Gull in with a small flock of Ring-billeds present. It is amazing how well that species blends in (esp with its head tucked!). I can see how a lot of these birds are probably passed over in even a fairly good scan of a large gull flock.

We continued down the coast to Wind Point and Shoop Park in Racine Cty. We spent a while here and came up with very little - 7 very distant Surf Scoters and a late juvenile Black-bellied Plover. North Beach held some gulls but nothing of note. Carre-Hogle Park had two Tundra Swans out on the sandbar. As we were scanning I watched an adult Great Black-backed Gull fly in and land near the swans. An adult Thayer's Gull also flew in and landed on the water nearby. As we were about to leave I checked the coots one more timme and was amazed to see a male Wood Duck fighting the waves and dabbling in the algae with the coots! Two ducks I'd never thought I'd seen on Lake Michigan I'd seen on the lake in one day!

I posted some of Caleb Putnam's shots of the three Little Gulls present two weeks ago at Holand State Park below along with some of my highlight shots of Wednesday - 11/24/05.

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