Friday, December 3, 2010

Milwaukee Lakefront, 11/28-12/1 - Cave Swallow and four other new BIGBY species

This week has been interesting so far along the Milwaukee lakefront. The ducks have started to show up in greater numbers all along my BIGBY route. Scaup, Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Gadwall, etc. I've been pretty busy this week and haven't had time to post anything until now.

From Monday through today I added six new BIGBY species, bringing my MilWALKee BIGBY count to 185 species, and hitting the 224 species mark for my 2010 "combo" BIGBY species list. The "combo" list is a list of birds found while walking from my old home in southern Indiana (1/1/10 through 7/31/10), and walking from my new home in Milwaukee (8/1/10 to present date).

The high winds and rough surf this week brought the surfers out in full force on Lake Michigan. Here's a good example of the rough water from Monday morning: And here's a surfer heading home from McKinley beach on Sunday night after catching one last wave: And here's a Milwaukee surfer catching some air off a wave off of Bradford Beach on Monday morning: He's using a para-sail (very large kite) to help him get airborne.

There was also a fitting end to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. A pumpkin washed up on Bradford Beach Sunday night. Neat contrasts between the orange pumpkin and the beach sand. Here's a wet sand photo from Monday morning: And here's a drier sand version from yesterday morning:

Now for the birding highlights:

* Harlequin Duck (11/29). Milwaukee BIGBY species # 181. Combo BIGBY species #220. Just off shore at the North Point algae mats. Wasn't there the next time I walked by there on Wednesday.

* Northern Shoveler (11/30). Milwaukee BIGBY species # 182. Combo BIGBY species #221. Lakeshore State Park.

* Cave Swallow (11/30). Milwaukee BIGBY species # 183. Combo BIGBY species #222. Lakeshore State Park. This bird was a BIG surprise! It made a couple of passes over the south lawn, and over the park lagoon, and then headed in a southeasterly(?) direction towards the mouth of the Milwaukee River. It was flying low over the park, maybe 5-6 feet above the ground. At the closest it was maybe ten feet in front of me, flying relatively slowly into the stiff wind, so I got good looks. A Cave Swallow has been seen for several days at Milwaukee's South Metro Pier, accompanied by two Tree Swallows. Could my bird be the same bird as the South Metro Pier bird? Maybe not, since the pier is several miles from my sighting. Anyway, I hope it managed to get south before the real cold settled in!

* Ruddy Duck (11/30). Milwaukee BIGBY species # 184. Combo BIGBY species #223. Three birds behind art museum.

* Common Merganser (12/1). Milwaukee BIGBY species # 185. Combo BIGBY species #224. Three birds, off North Point rugby field. This marks a new personal record BIGBY species count for a single location in a calendar year. I recorded 184 BIGBY species in 2009 in southern Indiana. So the 185th Milwaukee species in 2010 is a new record.

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