I know, I know...I cried wolf on Red-necked Grebe in August (turned out to be some immature mergansers). But I'm pretty confident with my ID this time. :-)
I was walking through the southern half of my Milwaukee walking BIGBY route early yesterday afternoon, looking for new ducks. Not much except hundreds of Canada Geese, hundreds of American Coots, dozens of Mallards, and quite a few cute Golden-crowned Kinglets.
There were a few points of interest, though:
* Red-necked Grebe. One adult non-breeding bird. It was about 2:30PM. The size was right compared to the Mallards it swam past. Coloration was right. Large thick yellowish bill. And it had this weird behavior of sometimes paddling along with its head under water, which is consistent with the following BNA Online statement: "Sometimes peers underwater with eyes submerged, presumably looking for prey". I first saw it in the harbor south of Discovery World and then followed it as it swam under the bridge and into the inner harbor at Lakeshore State Park. Milwaukee BIGBY species #153. 2010 "combo" BIGBY species #198. (What's a "combo" BIGBY? See: http://bit.ly/a2HhKW).
* Two Red Foxes at the same time! There's a path between the prairie and the large rocks on the shore towards the north end of the park. It's not unusual to see foxes in this area. But yesterday I looked up to see two of them! One slipped into the prairie and the other dashed into the rocks. I decided to wait out the fox that went into the rocks. He popped up numerous times and I got pretty close. At one point we got into a staring contest, looking at each other intently for at least a minute. I took a lot of cell phone photos and got a pretty decent shot of the fox staring at me (see: http://bit.ly/9XAixR). For those of you who have ever taken cell phone photos of wildlife, you know you have to get REAL close to your subjects to get a halfway decent shot. I guess that's what I like about cell phone wildlife photography...the thrill of stalking the animal or bird and getting close enough to it to get a recognizable photo of it. FYI...I took my photos
between 2:00 and 2:15, so the foxes were definitely out and about in the middle of the day.
* . One male, and NOT the same bird that spent two months behind the art museum this summer. Markings were different. Same location, though.
* Saw another orange-collared in Veterans Park. Got relatively close, but couldn't read the numbers. Note to Hudson Bay researchers: white letters on an orange neck collar are very hard to read. Very poor contrast.
* Still no Cackling Geese. I've scanned what seems like thousands of geese over the past week, and all the small ones have just been smallish Canadas.
* Finally, there were two idiots intentionally running their jet skis at full-throttle through a large raft of coots. The coots were pretty adept at getting out of the way. I don't think any were killed or injured, but I sorta found myself halfway wishing that one of the jet skiers would catch a coot to the head so he'd think twice about it next time. :-)