Wednesday, May 11, 2011

North Pond - 5.10.11 - New Speices, Post 1

Wow... yesterday the weather was just amazing so after I tracked down the falcon, I went to the North Pond.  I took my time and my tripod and got some really neat shots.  There are still a few species I need to research, but I found some really amazing stuff out there.

I also have a new obsession.  It's a social wildlife site where you post what you've seen and where you've seen it.  If you don't know what it is, people can help you identify the animal or flower from the picture and the context you give.  And you get to earn little badges as you go.  If you've ever seen how I play Farmville, you know I love getting little electronic badges to signify accomplishments. :)  If you're on, or join, Project Noah, and want to follow me over there, I'm listed by my name (Kymberlee Ricke).

So anyway, it took me 5.5 hours to make the loop around the pond yesterday.  The wildlife was in full swing.  And so were the local birders and photographers.  At one point I stood around with two other people exchanging sightings and talking about the Kingbird that perched, basically, right above our heads and the warblers that are still in abundance.

So... new species from this particular adventure...

 So this particular duck is a bit of an odd case.  It's a Pekin or Domesticated duck.  Found in the wild... so... *shrug*  I suspect it was either put there by or escaped from the Lincoln Park Zoo, nearby.  There's exactly one pair on this pond.  So, yeah, wild, but not exactly.
From white ducks to American Black Duck.  Apparently these guys were in danger of being wiped out as a pure species.  See, there's other ducks that are happy to mate with them, thus diluting the American Black Duck gene pool.

 Which leads us to this guy.  At first glance, he seems to be a mallard with that bright green head, but that's only part of the truth.  He's a mallard mix.  Like dogs, ducks can apparently intermix when breeding and mallards are apparently all too glad to do so.  This particular mix seems to be the "labradoodle" of the duck world.  A 'mutt', but one that occurs enough to get its own name.  According to one website I found, the mallard head with a white neck/chest and brown body is called a Duclair Duck.  In general a mallard mix is referred to as a "manky duck".

Okay, this guy isn't new.  It's a correction.  I had originally listed him as a White-Fronted Goose.  And while that would be an appropriate description of this guy, it's not his species.  He's a Graylag.

 Did I mention that the pond is Warblers-Are-Us right now?  This is a Common Yellow-Throat Warbler.  Looks like more than just his throat is yellow to me!
 Here's the Eastern Kingbird I mentioned above.  Kingbirds are a type of flycatcher and apparently somewhat rare in the area.
 One of my favorite finds of the trip was this Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  So very nice of him to show off his distinguishing red breast for me.  Made it much easier to identify him. :)  He's a finch - related to cardinals.

 Now here's something you don't see every day.  Mostly because he never comes out of the grasses and reeds!  A Virginia Rail.  We don't get too many wading birds in Chicago, other than the herons, so this was a pretty cool find.
And the coolest find of the whole trip?  A Red-headed Woodpecker.  Yep, like Woody.  Someone had mentioned to me that they'd seen one around and I was pretty sure they were confusing red-headed with either Downy or Red-breasted because they both have red on at least parts of their head.  But no, sure enough, here's a bird that's listed as a threatened species, right here in the middle of Chicago.

So those were the major new finds.  Eight new species, for a total of 23 of my 50.  Almost half-way there.  I suspect it's going to start getting a little thin in the 'new species' area, at least until June and the influx of the warm-weather insects.  I saw a clouded sulphur butterfly when I was out getting the falcon yesterday, so we should start seeing more butterflies soon.  And the bees are starting to pop out.  So hopefully about the time the migrating birds move out, the insects will move in.


  1. These are some great finds, especially for Chicago. Don't you love the Red-headed Woodpecker?

  2. Thanks Mike! That woodpecker kept itself *just* on the edge of what my lens could happen. I'm hoping to see him again and be able to sneak up a little closer. I'm starting to learn how very, very slowly I need to move around these 'birding hotspots' if I want to see the good stuff. :)