April stays true to form…

The weather today is a nice summary of the weather we’ve had all month. Except for that glorious second week from the 10th through the 14th, it has been consistently, if not relentlessly, cool and rainy. Since we haven’t seen anybody new at Estabrook Park in a while, and even Charles Hagner has begun to wonder what’s going on with the spring migration, I thought I’d try the Shorewood Nature Preserve, just across town on the shore of Lake Michigan, for a change of pace and maybe to see some of the birds who somehow miss stopping in at Estabrook.

I am happy to say that it did not disapoint! Right off the bat, the water was full of dozens and dozens of red-breasted mergansers, whom we have seen in Estabrook already this spring, but never more than a few at a time. Today on Lake Michigan, there were too many for me to count, and here’s a drake doing his very best to impress a hen, but I’m not sure that it’s working.


There were also dozens and dozens of buffleheads, and here’s a drake cruising along with two hens whom it appears he does not feel the need to impress. I don’t believe I’ve seen buffleheads since last April.


I didn’t see any cormorants on the water, but a couple of large formations flew by just offshore, and here’s the tightest clump I could capture.


A bird that I did not expect to see today was this belted kingfisher, who made a noisy pass over the beach, perched on this railing, and caught quite the fish in very short order.


A bird I was thrilled to see was my very first Bonaparte’s gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia). They look quite similar to the black-headed gulls we saw in South Holland, but the black on their heads seems to extend a bit farther.


And finally, there was this single mystery duck. It looks sort of like a bufflehead, but was swimming alone, the top of its head looks reddish, the white patch on the side of its face is too big and continues down into the neck, and its bill is too long. I compared it against other likely suspects, ruddy ducks, scooters, and pochards, but nothing fits better. Please don’t hesitate to chime in if you can shed any light on this matter.


Lastly, I did visit Estabrook yesterday morning, but I only came away with two pictures worth the ink. The first is of a beaver floating still in the water, which I have not seen one do before.


And the second is of the goslings on the pond snuggling up under mom’s wing to keep warm during their nap.


Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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