Thursday, February 21, 2013

Milwaukee Lakefront Day Two, Janaury 29

I returned to the Ferry Dock to look for the Hoary Redpoll, but found only American Tree Sparrows.  A local Northern Harrier was keeping the birds edgy as it patrolled the grassy marshy area to the north behind the high dike.  Unfortunately, this area to the north was not visible from the ferry side of the fence.  I checked the inlet from the ferry dock parking lot and was able to identify Greater Scaup by rounded head shape and bill size.  I suspected that scaup seen yesterday included Greater but I was more interested in finding the Snowy Owl and Hoary Redpoll, which are more rare.  There will be plenty of opportunities during 2013 to see Greater Scaup.   I returned to the yacht basin to check out the birds there again, but found nothing new, but did meet a local birder, who was headed north to areas I planned to visit.  I followed him to the pier in the industrial area where the Glaucous Gull had been seen yesterday, but there was nothing new there.  Then I followed him to Lake Shore State Park.  It was easy to identify his van, because the license plate was Yahway (god), normally spelled, Yahweh.  He told me that his wife requested this license plate but was not first in line, thus the misspelling.  I thanked him for the directions and started to check out the gulls and waterfowl in the harbor area beyond the lighthouse.  I immediately found two second year/cycle Glaucous Gulls mixed in with the other gulls and waterfowl.  Then I found an interesting gull flying in close to the lighthouse.  It was a little smaller than the Herring Gulls with a somewhat smaller bill.  The   undersides of the primaries were white with dark tips confirming that I was looking at an adult winter plumage Thayer's Gull.  I went from the light house parking area to the corner of Erie Avenue to scan the gulls sitting on the ice.  I found a Lesser Black-backed Gull, not new for the year, but a good bird nonetheless.  I met a local birder who confirmed my ID of Lesser Black-backed and the adult Thayer's Gull near the lighthouse.  I went back out to the light house and found that there were now three second winter Glaucous Gulls in the harbor.  One final visit to the corner of Erie Avenue, and I found an adult Glaucous Gull on the ice, the Lesser Black-backed Gull again, and an interesting  white winged gull that was facing mostly away from me, so that I could not see the length of the primaries relatively to the tail length nor the head shape.  It looked slightly smaller than the Herring Gulls.  When it took flight, it looked like an Iceland Gull, confirming my suspicions.  Cloud cover had been increasing during the morning, and snow was predicted for tomorrow.  No pictures due to the distant and low light.  I left for Greenbay to hopefully try for the Northern Hawk Owl, Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings found in Door County to the northeast of Greenbay.   The list is now 111.

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