Saturday, April 15, 2006Whenever I bird with other, more experienced birders, it seems like we morph into a single, gigantic, distributed organism with eyes all over its body, like the Greek character Argus who had like 1000 eyes. This morning I finally found my group (after wandering the length of the park for like 1/2 hour) and they were sharp enough to catch heaps and heaps of birds I hadn't ever seen at Humboldt Park before--even though I bird there like twice a week! Kind of humbling. So here's a sampler of what we saw:
KINGFISHER, which had caught a fish, flew to a low-hanging branch and proceeded to slam the fish against the branch repeatedly until it was able to swallow it;
2 female BUFFLEHEADS
4 WOOD DUCKS
RING NECKED DUCK
6 HERMIT THRUSHES
and the usual multitudes of CANADA GEESE, HOUSE SPARROWS, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and HERRING GULLS.
What a terrific morning in the city! Suburbanite birders on our walk complained about the amount of trash in the park; I said it was a vast improvement from early March, when you had to dodge flying McDonald's wrappers and syringes along the mini-wilderness area in the park called the Prairie River. The cleanup crews are doing their best and making improvements along the way--finally there is now a white dividing line along the whole bicycle trail, which gives the enormous chaotic park an air of civilization.
Yesterday S. and I had to drive out to drop off our new Toyota for some work at the dealership--new tires and paint protection as promised when we made the purchase--and we stopped off at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a walk and some lunch. Awesome place! The paths wind through endless cultivated gardens and flashy annuals and bulbs like narcissus and ranunculus. The smells on such a warm day were intoxicating. The only birds I had there, though, were a GOLDFINCH, millions of ROBINS and some MUTE SWANS, which I noted are so invasive and toxic for the pond/watershed habitat that no other water birds will nest near them. They just chew everything completely to bits and leave nothing for anyone else. How American of them--you'd think they were a native species, but they aren't.