Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weekend Potpourri

This weekend has been one of the best I have had recently. I had a four-day break from school thanks to our lovely presidents. The following is a synopsis of the past three days.

Friday the 18th, I attended an art opening at Rotofugi for the great artist Frank Kozik. He was low-key during the opening and signed a few vinyl pieces for me. He has a large following and designs many pieces of art, some of which are manufactured by companies like Kidrobot. With others, he manufactures them himself and sells directly to the public via his website. I was able to interact with him and catch up with a few of my friends that I see mostly at the openings. Here is a photograph I took with Frank Kozik during the event:

Also, during the event, Rotofugi invited the Space Tamale Truck to come by and sell tamales to us. The workers are vey entertaining and to be different from others tamale sellers in restaurants, dress in Lucha Libre fighting costumes. They were awesome! Here is a photograph of the workers:

Overall, I had a great time. After arriving back home, I prepared for the days of birding to come, which were highly anticipated.

Here are photos of pieces that Kozik signed (A lot of his work contains fake cigarettes. My mom originally didn't want me to get them, but it became a lost cause. DON'T SMOKE):

Burt from Mongers Filter Kings, signed in '11


A figure with no name from Mongers Menthols, signed in '11


Cyrus from Mongers Filter Kings, signed in '11

A custom Munny by Frank Kozik from '09


A custom Munny by Frank Kozik from '11

The Robot Dunny from Series 5, signed in '09

Lorenzo from Mongers Menthols, signed in '09

Clambake from Dunny Endangered!, signed in '09

Green Apple Dunny from Dunny 2010, signed in '11

Cook Dunny from Dunny 2009, signed in '11 


Saturday, the 19th of February, I attended the IOS-sponsored Gull Frolic at Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club, very near the Illinois/Wisconsin border. I had a fantastic time catching up with a bunch of friends and making new ones. I was also was able to hear a lecture from Alvaro Jaramillo who was a great speaker giving us an introduction to Gulls. At the Frolic, the people there tallied five of seven expected species of Gull, but we all wished we had seen eight. The reason was that we all wanted a kid named Ethan Gyllenhaal to cut his hair. It is extremely long, and we all want him to shave and get a trim. One of my mentors, Chris Williamson, wants him to get a Justin Bieber haircut. I second that motion. An ornithologist from the Field Museum brought in dead specimens for Ethan and all of the attendees to see. Unfortunately, Ethan would not count them as one of the eight Gull species. He never did specify that they had to be alive, so we were frustrated. Anyway, it was still a great day. Below are a few photographs from the day at Winthrop Harbor:

The sign leading into the Yacht Club

Geoff (He will be introduced later) and his bread for chumming the Gulls

Ruddy Duck


Hooded Merganser pair

Very strange white winged gull, possibly the nominate race of Iceland Gull vs. the Kumlien's Gull

At about 1:30 PM, Aaron Gyllenhaal, the brother of Ethan, and I, were getting bored at looking at Gulls. Since we had some time, and Aaron’s Dad was willing to drive us to go birding for a little while elsewhere, we went to Lake County in search of Saw-whet Owls in an undisclosed location (for the protection of the birds. There was a lot of about chest high thick brush where we were looking, and seedpods spilling up all over me. I checked every Cedar tree I could, which is their usual resting place, but I had no luck. I did happen to find this deer carcass, perhaps eaten by Coyotes. Turkey Vultures probably would have eaten it if it were in a more open area, and if they had migrated here by now. Here is a photo of the carcass:

That night, since I was carpooling with Geoff and Chris Williamson two of my three mentors, who in turn, were chauffeuring Alvaro around, we went out for Indian food on Devon Street. It was great to interact one on one with Alvaro and discuss a lot of other birds--not just gulls. I also made a bet with Geoff. We bet that if I saw more year birds then he does, I would get to go on a trip anywhere to try to see a rare bird, known as a twitch. If he wins, I will have to pay for his room and gas money for a trip to Duluth, Minnesota. It will be a interesting bet because of my school situation and his job. I am at 56 species so far this year for Illinois. During dinner, Jim Hulley ate with us, who is a birder moving here soon from Massachusetts, who is also a friend of Alvaro. He seemed like a great guy, and I hope to see him again either in the field or at another birding get-together. Here is a photo of all of the birders in attendance:

From left: Alvaro, Chris, Geoff, me, and Jim


On Sunday, February 20th, I attended the COS sponsored Post-Frolic Chicago Lakefront Tour. The event was led by Chris and Geoff Williamson, and co-led by Alvaro Jaramillo. We had a great day hitting prime birding locations along the Lakefront. We started at Montrose Point [,] where we saw a Thayer's Gull, Glaucous Gull (which I missed), a Mallard-Black Duck hybrid, and an American Coot, year bird #55 for me.

We then moved to Northerly Island were we saw:

A male Long-tailed Duck, sitting:

A male Long-tailed Duck, flying:

Some Redheads:

And a Northern Shrike (The same bird I saw already this year, which I did not blog about):

The next place we visited was Hammond Marina in Indiana. In Illinois, on the drive out, Sam Burkhardt (my other mentor aside from Geoff and Chris) and I saw a Peregrine Falcon, year bird #56 for me. At Hammond Marina, we observed a very distant male White-winged Scoter:

And a Kumlien's Iceland Gull that has been observed on the same light post for over three years now:

The last location that we visited was Whiting Refinery Plant. Birding along the Lakefront in Indiana is depressing because most of it entails outflow from power plants and their epic stink. It is not very enjoyable, but the birds are nice. At Whiting, we saw some Buffleheads (known to birders as Buffalo-heads):

And a Great Black-backed Gull:

The three days were great while they lasted, and Monday was spent sleeping in (finally!), and going to appointments.

Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed it!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Illinois Young Birders Trip and Museum Campus Excursion

A few days ago on February 12th, I took a trip with my mom and the Illinois Young Birders to Ryerson Woods Forest Preserve in Deerfield, IL. We met Sheryl DeVore and Steve Bailey, two of the authors of Birds of Illinois, and also great birders. They led us on a trip into the preserve to try to find Barred Owls and Great-horned Owls. Steve has a fantastic imitation of a Barred Owl that is very loud and accurate. After 15 minutes of him calling, he was finally answered by a Great-horned Owl. Soon after, a pair of Barred Owls called, performing their piercing, staccato-like vocalizations. Neither of the two owl species seemed very interested in us, so we only were able to hear them. No problem. They still counted for my Year List (a list of every bird seen or heard in Illinois), according the the listing rules of the ABA. The birds seen on this jaunt boosted my Year List total to 40 Species.

On February 13th, I was sitting at home doing homework. All of a sudden, I received a text message from a friend saying that there was a Long-tailed Duck at Monroe Harbor at that moment! I really wanted to see this bird and was able to convince my dad to take me there. I walked around the lip of the walkway, near the waters edge, looking eagerly for the bird. All I saw were:

Common Goldeneye

Horned Grebes

And these Red-breasted Mergansers

But then, out in the blue, I finally found this female Long-tailed Duck. It was fishing very actively, and after a few moments caught a fish. I was able to get a picture of the fish before it went underwater for another search for more:

Amazingly, the duck kept getting closer to me, and came within 15 feet of the walkway I was on, allowing for amazing looks at its beautiful plumage. Below is a photo of it after it had come closer to me:

Next weekend is the IOS sponsored Gull Frolic, which I will be attending. I will post about how it went when I have time. Thanks for reading!

Until next week,