the Rookie Birder

I have watched birds all my life, but after reading "The Big Year," "Grail Bird" and especially Kenn Kaufman's "Kingbird Highway," plus Santa's timely stocking stuffer of "Sibley's 2003 Eastern & Western Field Guides," I made the decision to become a rookie birder beginning January 1st, 2006.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Herring Gull at Montrose

Montrose Harbor
Chicago on the Lakefront at Montrose

Saturday, January 21st, 2006, 11am

After running today, I decided to take a quick look and see what was around North Pond, Belmont Harbor and then stop quickly at Montrose Harbor. My first two stops netted me Canada Geese, Mallard Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Ring-billed Gull, House Sparrow, Rock Dove, Hooded Merganser, American Crow, and
European Starlings.

When I got to Montrose I immediately heard a Blacked-capped Chickadee near the golf course, and though I did not find it, I also didn't look very hard. I also noticed, now that I was trying to pay attention to gulls ahead of Gull Frolic that would take place in a few weeks at Winthrop Harbor thanks to IOS (Illinois Ornithological Society), a pack of gulls on the ice and on the docks in the harbor. Ring-billed Gulls everywhere, but there was one, no, two, three, four, maybe 9 much larger gulls now that I paid attention and LOOKED.
They had to be HERRING GULLS (photo Andy Vidler), and a quick look at my Sibley's confirmed that they were.

I spent most of my time looking at one close Herring Gull adult that showed classic nonbreeding winter plumage. There were three juveniles too, but I didn't have the confidence, or patience, to try and learn what they were. That was fine; I had my second gull of the year, bird number #27 for the year, and #19 for Chicago. And it was just too cold to stay any longer; I was hungry after my run. Nothing else caught my eye, so back to the car I went. On my way, right above my car was an American Robin singing tentatively in the cold wind. It was Chicago bird #20. It was a nice cheery sign that winter doesn't last forever. It put a smile on my face along with my new gull:



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