Saturday, October 23, 2010

Milwaukee lakefront, 10/21-22 - Snow Buntings and three other new BIGBYs

Over the past couple of days I have added four new species to my MilWALKee BIGBY list, for a total of 162 species on the year. (What's a MilWALKee BIGBY? See: Three of those species were also new to my 2010 combo BIGBY list, bringing that total to 204 species for 2010. (What's a combo BIGBY? See:

Here are the four new MilWALKee BIGBY birds:

* Mute Swan. MilWALKee BIGBY #159 and combo BIGBY #202. This bird was lounging just off of Bradford Beach for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Most of the time it had its head tucked under its wing, but it popped up often enough for me to ID it as a Mute Swan. First time I've ever had this species on a BIGBY list. I managed to squeeze off a quick cell phone shot. See: The swan is a ways off, but you can tell it's a swan, and the picture of lake and sky is kind of pretty.

* Surf Scoter. MilWALKee BIGBY #160 and combo BIGBY #203. This bird was mixed in with a raft of ducks off of the North Point algae mats yesterday. First time I've ever had this species on a BIGBY list.

* Purple Finch. MilWALKee BIGBY #161. Male. Hanging out at one of the Lake Park feeders.

* Snow Bunting. MilWALKee BIGBY #162 and combo BIGBY #204. Two birds, hanging out on the concrete breakwall of the water treatment plant, just northeast of the Lake Park rugby field. An American Tree Sparrow was hanging with them. They were just on the other side of the security fence, sitting on the concrete, basking in the sun and soaking up some rays. I got really great views with my binocs. They are really cute birds! But I'm not sure I like finding birds with the word "snow" in their names on such a beautiful fall day! First time I've ever had this species on a BIGBY list.

A few more random highlights:

* Saw a Ring-billed Gull perched in a Hackberry Tree, eating Hackberries. Seemed odd. A not-so-great photo to document it:

* Saw lots of shells (Zebra mussels?) washed up on Bradford Beach today. See this photo to see how thick they were in places: And here's a photo from a wider angle:

* Finally, I took some photos to demonstrate the shallowness of the water off of the North Point algae mats (Bradford Beach is pretty much the same). For whatever reason, I think it's the shallow water in this area that attracts waterfowl. The water is relatively shallow quite a ways out into Lake Michigan here. In this photo ( you can see a deep blue band of water on the horizon. That's the normal water color of the lake. The water in the foreground is brown. That's because the wave action is churning up sand in the shallow water. This photo ( shows the contrasting colors from a different angle, from the top of the bluff in Lake Park.

Bernie Sloan
Milwaukee, WI

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