August 5 banding notes

The seventh MAPS banding session at Rollins Savanna this season took place on Thursday, August 5. This was the final session in the ‘regular’ MAPS season, although the team did run the station one additional day (when I was unable to attend – August 17).


Bird awaits banding; photo by Janice Sweet.

We had a bit of excitement in the form of several members of the press stopping by to observe us, interview a few of the banders and Lake County Forest Preserve personnel, and take lots of photos. Stories were published by the Pioneer Press (which also posted a very nice video) and Daily Herald.


Photographer shoots juvenile and adult Common Grackles. Photo by Janice Sweet.

The other non-bird issue of note that morning was the utter misery brought upon everyone from the mosquitoes. They were the worst I have ever seen them (I could have said that on each session; they got progressively worse as the season wore on, culminating in the total mosquito nightmare on August 5th), and were attacking us even while we stood in the normally relatively bug-free parking lot before we headed to the banding station. We all sprayed bug repellent on ourselves but it was of almost no use. The back of my legs were especially tasty (or not especially covered in bug spray) judging by the amount of welts found there later in the day. In fact, area mosquito populations exploded in early August and continue to abound locally.

Although the nets were not particularly busy, we did have some firsts for the season, including a Yellow Warbler and a Warbling Vireo. I banded a juvenile Common Yellowthroat and an extremely cute juvenile American Robin. We also had juvenile Common Grackles and a couple of recaptures.


Removing juvenile American Robin from bag. See the mosquito photobomb? Photo by Janice Sweet.

Warbling Vireo
Warbling Vireo poses for newspaper photog, photo by blogger

Another first for the season was a Tennessee Warbler, an early migrant that breeds further north. The MAPS program is primarily for recording breeding bird data, so when the migrants start coming through again, the MAPS season is winding down.

As it was the last session I would be attending, I brought a few small gifts for the banders and my fellow volunteers. I gave this iBand tote bag to our permit holder, Dr. Cynthia Trombino. Here’s a picture of the bag on the banding station table at the end of the day.

iBand novelty bag
iBand tote bag, photo by blogger. Find iBand merch including this bag here

Finally, I geeked out a bit when someone found this deer skull along the mist net trail. Very cool!

Deer Skull
Deer skull found at Rollins Savanna, photo by blogger

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Next time, forget The Eye

Earlier this month, Arthur and I went to view Transformers 3 being filmed in Chicago (it was our second visit to the sets). The filming has shut down various parts of the city this summer, and patient spectators can catch glimpses of Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, and other actors and crew while they work on the big-budget sequel. Loud, impressive explosions and fancy stunt work are also a big draw. But… that is not what this post is about. This post is about a big creepy eye, and a red bird.

A surreal art installation is in place at the corner of State and Van Buren in Chicago. News media paid plenty of attention to the big creepy eye that was coming to town, back when the art was put into place in July. But it wasn’t until we approached the eye that we came to understand there is more to this display than initially meets the… you know.

Eye and Cardinal

The display is titled Eye and Cardinal. The creepy giant organ gets top billing, but the lovely Northern Cardinal banners along the road were more interesting to me.

Eye and Cardinal

Eye and Cardinal

Eye and Cardinal

Cardinal1Eye and Cardinal

I usually enjoy surreal art, but in this case I really could have done without The Eye half of this installation. I mean, isn’t it creepy!?

Eye and Cardinal

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BPW: Napping Great Crested Grebe

On August 15th Arthur and I visited one of our favorite birding spots, Vogelplas Starrevaart. We spent some time watching birds from the blind. This Great Crested Grebe having a nap on the water was one of the birds we saw.

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Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Hide, Bird Photography Weekly, Netherlands | 11 Comments

BPW: Tufted Duck feast

One of the best place to watch birds in the Netherlands is the Oostvaardersplassen. Arthur and I spent some time there this weekend – our first visit in about two years. This juvenile Tufted Duck caught my attention – s/he was busy hunting and feeding for at least a half hour.

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Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Netherlands | 4 Comments

Turkey antics

Throughout the summer, a turkey in Chicago’s north suburbs made the news by blocking traffic and gaining fans. The Lake Bluff Turkey, known as Sparkles (among other nicknames) has over 300 fans on Facebook. The formerly wild Wild Turkey was finally captured by Wildlife Control in early August. When I was searching Google for Wild Turkey information the other day (unrelated to Sparkles) I was surprised to see how popular our local star turkey really is, according the Google’s auto-complete search suggestions.

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Posted in Illinois, Offbeat, Search Terms | 1 Comment

Press, award, hiatus

Press
In just over two weeks, two events where I volunteered got some local press coverage. First, in July I handled at an owl program at a library in Lake Zurich. There were four of us there, with three handling. I had Pip the Barn Owl, who ended up being very photogenic, keeping his wings outspread much of the time. Lucky for me, I’m in half of the pictures. 😉 The event didn’t generate a story, but the photos are posted on the Pioneer Press website.

Then, last week, two local papers visited the banding station at Rollins Savanna. The Herald ran the story on their website the same day. The story is front (web) page news today on the Pioneer Press site. They even had a video of the team! There was a photo album as well, but the links are no longer available [as of March 2012 – ed].

Award
Late last month this blog was honored as a Top 50 Bird Blog by OnlineSchools.org. I’m humbled to find myself listed among so many top bloggers. Go check out the list: 2010 Top 50 Bird Blog Awards Winners. Nominations for the 2011 award can already be submitted. [OnlineSchools has discontinued their blog award program as of June 2012 – ed]

Hiatus
Arthur and I are traveling to the Netherlands this month. We will be visiting with family and friends, taking a short break in Paris, taking care of some business, and marveling at how much has changed since we were last in Holland (September 2008 – how time flies!). Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze some birding in, as well, but I have a feeling blogging will be difficult. I have a few posts scheduled to run while I’m away, so this blog won’t drop off the radar completely during this mini-hiatus. I’ll be back with minty fresh blog posts in a few weeks! Until then, dear readers, please enjoy these last days of summer!

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Posted in Banding, FCWR, LCFPD | 1 Comment

Some Dutch bird notes

Last week there were a few stories of note regarding birds in the Netherlands.

In Friesland, 2010 was a great year for meadow- and field-breeding birds like the Northern Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit. The number of breeding pairs doubled in some habitats, with huge numbers of young birds successfully fledged. The reason for this year’s huge breeding success may have been delayed mating after an unusually cold spring. (source)


Northern Lapwing, Zwaanenwater, April 2006

Another species, this time on one of the Wadden Islands, also had a record breeding season. Eurasian Spoonbills on the island of Texel had more offspring than ever previously recorded. 540 breeding pairs broke the previous record of 397 in 2009. 2010 was the third record-breaking season in a row, so the spoonbills continue to thrive on Texel. (source)


Eurasian Spoonbill, Texel, April 2007

On a less positive note, the number of captive birds of prey in the Netherlands is growing at an alarming rate. The number of permits given has increased ten-fold (anyone in the Netherlands may keep a bird of prey, so long as the bird was born in captivity). Along with this, the number of lost or escaped captive birds is a growing problem. So far in 2010, seventeen captive Eurasian Eagle-owls have escaped (that’s about the same number of wild eagle-owls currently living in the Netherlands!). The Dutch branch of BirdLife International is working towards restricting the number of captive birds being kept in the Netherlands. (source)

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BPW: Baby Barn Swallows

Yesterday, Arthur and I visited Raven Glen FP. Part of the loop trail overlooks Timber Lake. We saw several Barn Swallows, both adults and juveniles, flying about one of the fishing piers on the lake. As we approached, all of the birds flushed, except for these cute babies.

Baby Barn Swallows

Baby Barn Swallows

Baby Barn Swallows

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly | 8 Comments