Saturday, 27 April 2013

Magic Hedge, Chicago, April 2013

How ironic that the boomerang route is lost, but the Chicago has come back! Australia is now to be serviced by our new colleagues while the passengers to and from Chicago will benefit from many, many years of experience as the heritage crews return to the service.



By way of a celebration, I organised a play date with Meredith Matthews, who has recently joined us at 10,000 Birds. We met at 07.00 at Montrose Point and immediately set about looking for warblers at the Magic Hedge (Google Earth ref; 41°57'46.00"N 87°38'4.00"W). Sadly the weather had not been favourable for migrating warblers until this morning and I guess they had a long way to come to reach us. Nevertheless, there were still plenty of birds around with 39 species seen by the end of the morning.

American Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds were very common as were the aptly described Common Grackles. A bird that we took to be a young male Red-shouldered Blackbird was singing and displaying. He would have had plenty of competition from adult males in breeding colours, but he was enthusiastic just the same.

A Brown Cowbird flew into the tree above us and looked very cross as he displayed for his accompanying females. Despite the lack of leaves, there was still plenty of activity to indicate that spring was on its way. Grackles and blackbirds were building nests. It pays to be wary here once the nests are occupied as the residents become very protective, Meredith related.

We took a look through the dunes and along the shoreline noting Caspian Tern and a Killdeer. Out on the water a few Red-breasted Merganser were seen. Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of Herring Gulls roosted on the shoreline.

Back at the hedge, we were hoping that a few migrants may have started to arrive, but mostly we found Sparrows and Northern Cardinals. Sparrows were well represented today with 6 species. 8 if you try to jemmy Eastern Towhee and Dark-eyed Junco into the family.

Meredith stayed with me for a couple of hours before having to return to work, but I still had a while before I had to start back. I was headed for the Splish Splash bird bathing spring when I came across a squirrel which had found a discarded peanut butter jar. It was determined to lick it clean, but could not quite reach the bottom of the jar.

The spring was well attended by robins, blackbirds and grackles and I caught a few pictures as they sploshed about in the water. I managed to get enough for a 10,000 Birds post, but couldn’t work the lyrics of Sweet Home Chicago into it. Hidehay.

Canada Goose 8, Mallard 10, Red-breasted Merganser 18, Double-crested Cormorant 20, American Coot 1, Killdeer 2, Ring-billed Gull 25, Herring Gull 3, Caspian Tern 2, Mourning Dove 6, Belted Kingfisher 1, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3, Downy Woodpecker 3, Northern Flicker 8, American Crow 15, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2, Purple Martin 14, Tree Swallow 4, Barn Swallow 6, Black-capped Chickadee 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3, Hermit Thrush 6, American Robin 40, Brown Thrasher 5, European Starling 15, Yellow-rumped Warbler 5, Eastern Towhee 5, Chipping Sparrow 20, Field Sparrow 8, Savannah Sparrow 2, Song Sparrow 8, Swamp Sparrow 6, White-throated Sparrow 1, Dark-eyed Junco 3, Northern Cardinal 10, Red-winged Blackbird 40, Common Grackle 60, Brown-headed Cowbird 5, House Sparrow 10.
Still trying!

Bus 146 runs along the Miracle Mile, North Michigan Ave. It leaves downtown and heads north along the lakeside on Lake Shore Drive. It does not stop along Lakeshore Drive, until it pulls off onto the parallel N Marine Drive. Jump off at West Montrose Ave and turn right, (east) under Lake Shore Drive. The walk to and from The Hedge can be quite productive. There were plenty of sparrows in the rough, regenerating prairie and I was pleased to see that the Purple Martins had returned to their nesting boxes at the edge of the harbour. Measuring in a straight line from Navy Pier in Downtown Chicago to W. Montrose Drive is 8.7kms about 15 – 20 mins on the bus.

For previous posts from the Magic Hedge, clink on the link below;
http://redgannet.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/magic-hedge-montrose-point-chicago-sept.html

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Chicago, including Meigs Field.