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.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My first lakefront run as a birder

Running path beginning at Diversey, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago at the lakefront starting Diversey

January 8th, 2006, 815-10am

Back in Chicago, and because I didn't do my normal lakefront run yesterday as I was out very late Friday night, I was out on the lakefront this morning with Mike, my running partner, for a 6 mile run.

We do many of our runs here in Chicago on the unbelievable 18 mile Chicago Park District running path along our beautiful lakefront. This may be the best running path of any major city anywhere in the US, especially after you factor in the bathrooms, half mile markers, available water on the whole path, and, of course, wonderful urban views of our beautiful city. Typically we start just north of the
path 4.5 mile marker at the year round water trough that the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) recently rebuilt for us runners at the site of an old horse trough watering hole that horse and buggy riders used to water their horses. Don't see those on the path any longer, we runner "Clydesdales" like myself are the only horses using the trough now.

The lakefront path we use begins at the Diversey Harbor Lagoon, and to the north goes past the Belmont Harbor, the Montrose Harbor and two lakefront migrating bird sanctuaries. The birding opportunities are extensive. Recently, I read that over 250 birds either spend part of their year or migrate through the greater Chicagoland area every year. Did I know that?

Anyway, as it was my first opportunity to run on the lakefront path since I began my 2006 birding quest, I was jazzed to see what I could see. I wasn't sure I would be able to ID much, but it would give me some ideas on what to spend more time exploring at a later date.

Exploring at a later date would definitely be the plan...all I positively IDed today was European Starlings and the omnipresent Canada Goose. But I did notice a number of ducks I didn't recognize in the Belmont Harbor, gulls everywhere, and I couldn't wait to get back to explore Belmont Harbor more thoroughly. Including the Rock Doves (Feral Pigeons) I saw at Kimball & Irving Park on the way to the lakefront this morning, I had three additions to my Illinois life birding list: Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), European Starling, Canada Goose.


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