Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Feb 2014

Poor weather conditions kept me from getting too ambitious this week. A fresh fall of snow delayed us into Chicago as the airport closed and we had to circle while they cleared the runways. But I had confidence in the American way of dealing with snow and headed out early the next morning to Lincoln Park. Sure enough a path, just beyond the farm on Stockton Drive, had already been cleared and the sound of snow-clearing equipment filled the air. It was a beautiful bright morning and not too cold, a great day to be out.


The path took me across a bridge that spans the South Pond at Google Earth ref; 41 55 5.45N 87 37 59.36W A display suggested that somewhere beneath the snow was a boardwalk, but this would have to wait for another day as the snow clearance was concentrating on the main pathways for now. I was surprised to suddenly find myself in a zoo and felt rather furtive, having got in without having to pay an entrance fee. I felt slightly cheated later on, discovering that Lincoln Park Zoo does not charge for entry! 


The birds were slow to start this morning, but a small pond with a tiny area of open water provided a waterfowl spectacle as a zoo attendant fed the Whooper Swans. Amongst the Mallards were a few Wood Duck, Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck and Hooded Mergansers


The Whooper Swans were clearly resident at the zoo and the Mallard were flying in from the lake, but I had to ask about the others and found that only the “freeloaders”, i.e. the Mallards, were countable. Apparently one or two of the Hooded Mergansers were wild, but which ones?


The keeper suggested that I should try the Childrens’ Zoo which was more wooded and had the added attraction of Wolves and Otters. The wolves were chasing about in the snow and the otter slid around its enclosure obviously loving the snow! Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinal and an American Goldfinch were seen along this section, but it was not proving to be a great birdy day.


Since there was a Polar Bear pool and an Aviary, I became a little distracted and didn’t concentrate much on the birds after the exhibit houses opened at 10.00. 


The Polar Bear was very animated, playing in the water, chasing a sinking ball and trying to nick my gloves through the glass of the underwater window.


The Africa walk-through exhibit was interesting if a little sad, but the aviary had a large fly area which took my mind off the smaller enclosures leading up to it.


Bird List for Lincoln Park Zoo; 9

Red-breasted Merganser 2, Mallard 200, Downy Woodpecker 1, American Crow 20, American Robin 8, Black-capped Chickadee 5, Northern Cardinal 3, House Finch 5, House Sparrow 60

Lincoln Park Zoo was chosen for its clear paths on an otherwise “wading through the snow” sort of a morning. All the paths through the zoo were clear by 10.00. Bus number 151 runs along Chicago’s Miracle Mile and through Lincoln Park on Stockton Drive. The journey takes less than 15 minutes and costs US$2.25.