I hadn't been to the lake since late last winter, so on Sat, I decided to take a jaunt on over to see what I could find.
I started off at Grant Park on the south side of Milwaukee where I ran into a few friends; Rebecca Setzer, Seth Cutright, Paul Sparks, Joan Sommer and a few others. They were gathered near the tennis courts where most of the winter finches had been hanging out. As I arrived, they pointed out the five Red Crossbills that were partaking of the grand selection of cones in the area.
They proved difficult to photograph with the light, but I did get one decent shot:
|Female Red Crossbill|
Unfortunately, these were the only boreal birds in the area that morning save for a lone Common Redpoll. It was better than nothing, but not the birds I was looking for.
Not a bird, but while at there, we saw two Bucks, staying safe from hunters in the confines of the city park. Both of them had large racks:
After birding Grant park and finding next to nothing (our only other notable bird was a flyover Rough-legged Hawk) I took off ahead of the group and headed north. An Eared Grebe had been reported at Bayview Park just up the shore. Alas, all I could find were endless streams of Red-breasted Mergansers:
After checking Texas Ave, South Shore and Discovery World (only a few Greater Scaup here), I resigned myself to the notion that the Eared Grebe was either not present, or hiding.
North Point in Milwaukee turned out to be the most productive spot of the day. When the group arrived, I already had my scope on all three Scoters. Also present were: a Common Loon, two Long-tailed Ducks and an adult Bald Eagle fishing out on the lake.
Horned Grebes were present in several places in Milwaukee as well as farther north.
At the harbor entrance under the Hoan Bridge, I discovered a single Red-necked Grebe, though the light proved too difficult for any photos. Two out of three isn't too bad.
After Milwaukee, I headed to Port Washington. Port was quiet, but a flyover Wood Duck was a surprise.
After grabbing lunch at the Dockside Deli (excellent sandwiches) I hopped on the highway to Sheboygan.
Just south of Sheboygan is Kohler-Andrae State Park. It's actually two state parks right next to each other that are treated as one. This park has had some pretty awesome birds in past years. This time, the park was pretty quiet. There were zero passerines save for a few birds around the feeders.
I ran out to the beach and scoped the lake. A dozen Black Scoters were just offshore along with a few Horned Grebes and more Red-breasted Mergansers. Just beyond the heat shimmer was a large raft of Long-tailed Ducks. My minimum estimate was a thousand. After picking through and finding nothing else of interest, I headed north to Sheboygan.
The Blue Harbor area in Sheboygan was largely devoid of birds. Most notably, the Snowy Owl that had been hanging out there. I quickly ditched that and headed up to the marina where this Snowy Owl gave us awesome views:
While viewing the Snowy Owl through the scope, we heard the calls of Waxwings behind us.
Picking through some fruit trees across the street from the marina were about 50 or so Cedar Waxwings. Since Bohemian Waxwings had been seen in good numbers in the southern part of the state already, we gave it a go. The lone Bohemian Waxwing in the group flew right past my head and landed up high in a nearby tree where I quickly pointed it out to the others. We all got scope views eventually. It was an awesome bird to end the day with:
This was not only a new state bird for me (WI #330), but also a new one for my Lower 48 list.
With the sun setting, I started the long trek back home. Not too bad a finish after a slow start to the day.
It's sounding like it's going to be some pretty sweet birding this winter. We'll see what turns up in the next two weeks before I head out.
Til then, Happy Birding!