Tuesday, December 2, 2014


North Chain Lake
South Bend, Indiana

It has been a good year for waterfowl on our lake. We have had Canvasback, Redhead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Horned and Pied-billed Grebe and Common Loon. For the past week, we have had the pleasure of having 4 Trumpeter Swans on the lake - an new yard bird.  I was a bit surprised when they paddled over to our side of the lake and eventually in front of the house. They are huge, spectacular birds.

This picture shows some of the defining characteristics of both adults and juveniles. They are distinguished from the smaller Tundra Swan by the lack of a yellow lore and large, sloping bills. The juvenile's bill is darker overall than Tundra's, especially at the base.

Their long necks enable them to dabble in much deeper water than other waterfowl.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summertime Blues

Blue Grosbeak 7/23/14
Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area
South Bend
The St. Joseph County Parks recently established The Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area. The site was previously known as the Jackson Road Landfill. I was turned on to the birding possibilities about a year ago by Vince Gresham who at the time was the naturalist at Rum Village Park nearby. I have birded the area several times, but never during breeding season. When I stopped by a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the diversity of grassland species - Dickcissel, Henslow's Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink to name a few. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find this Blue Grosbeak... The BCRA is on Jackson Rd. south of Ireland Road and can be accessed from either Locust  Rd. or Linden Rd.

Dickcissel 7/16/14

Monday, January 20, 2014

I spent a couple of hours late this morning looking for waterfowl on the St. Joseph River between Leeper Park and Darden Bridge. I had 3 target birds: White-winged Scoter, Greater White-fronted Goose and Red-necked Grebe. I found the scoter along Riverside Dr. near Brown School. I first noticed a large, black scoter while driving. I parked at Brown School and walked to the river walk where there was a large number of Canada Geese and other waterfowl. I found what I thought at first glance to be a Greater White-fronted Goose as I scanned the Canadas, but as the picture below shows, it turned out to be a Greylag Goose and a hybrid Greylag x Canada. Also present were approximately 12 Common Mergansers, 8 Hooded Mergansers, 15 Common Goldeneye, 10 Bufflehead, and 5 Redhead. I eventually tracked the White-winged Scoter down at the little park about 1/4 mile north. Below are a few pics:

White-winged Scoter; first winter female

White-winged Scoters digiscoped on St. Joseph River several years ago

Common Goldeneye

Greylag Goose and hybrid Greylag x Canada
While on the topic of domestic geese... these Swan Geese were present on our lake (North Chain / Bass Lake) last year.