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Finding Rose in Florida is a wild ride
How one intrepid birder dodged sharks in her catamaran to get a look at wintering Piping Plovers from the Great Lakes.
Mia Majetschak makes regular visits to Anclote Key, Florida, to check on wintering Piping Plovers. The 180-acre key isn’t necessarily an easy place to get to—it’s 3 miles off-shore and requires a ferry ride or having a catamaran or kayak.
Majetschak’s mode of transport is an inflatable catamaran. Getting to Anclote means encounters with dolphins, sea turtles and sharks and sailing some rough seas in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Once in a while you crash because the waves are too much or you rip a hole into the inflatable hull,” Majetschak says.
She was photographing Piping Plovers on Oct. 17 when she encountered one that had an air of familiarity. Maybe it was the unique leg band combination, which was similar to that of a bird she knew in her old Chicagoland haunts:
Of,RV:X,B (Orange flag on upper left leg, Red band over Violet band on lower left leg, Silver band on upper right leg and Blue band on lower right leg)
There might be only one Piping Plover in the world with those leg bands. That Piping Plover happens to be our beloved Rose, who’s nested the past three summers at Chicago’s Montrose Beach with her handsome beau, Monty.
“I was close to fainting when I saw the bands and knew it was her,” Majetschak says.
Rose wasn’t alone, though, Majetschak also located her 2020 offspring, Nish, who was in Florida after a successful year of making history of his own in Ohio.
“I love all plovers and birds and knowing the longtime efforts to save our Great Lakes plovers, I made it my ‘winter’ mission to find the birds,” Majetschak says. “Carrying the gear through the sand isn’t always fun but the moment I see the plovers all misery is forgotten and I am pumped.”
Majetschak’s encounter is just one of the plover highlights from this off-season. As we await the birds’ return, likely in late April, there’s a full rundown here of all that’s happened since the Piping Plovers departed Chicago in August.
Last year in birding: a comprehensive recap by Jeff Reiter for the Daily Herald
A year’s worth of interesting bird sightings can feel like it goes by an instant. As soon as some of these rarities appear, they’ve often gone on their way within a few days. Jeff Reiter captured most every area 2021 vagrant in a splendid edition of his Words on Birds column for the Daily Herald newspaper recently. Here are some of the highlights to give you a flavor of a year in Chicago birding:
• Denis Kania spotted an American Anhinga flying over McDowell Grove Forest Preserve during the DuPage Spring Bird Count in May—the first anhinga in the 49-year history of the count. A Black Rail the same day, location undisclosed, was the event’s second on record.
• Rare delivery at UPS: in April, Cattle Egret and Great-tailed Grackle visited the grounds of the United Parcel Service facility in Hodgkins, just off I-294.
• As usual, Montrose Point birders crushed it. Highlight birds included Black Vulture, Brant, Long-eared Owl, Franklin’s Gull, Least Bittern, Western Tanager, Tufted Titmouse, and White-faced Ibis. The latter added to a site list approaching 350 species. The Magic Hedge remained magical, attracting 34 warbler varieties.
Regarding the Great-tailed Grackle mentioned above, a grackle has been frequenting another odd location, a gas station, in the past week or so near Monee, Ill.
An update on the proposed Carvana tower in Skokie
Skokie’s Board of Trustees did not include the Carvana tower on its agenda for last week’s meeting. Rather, it’s expected that the all-glass, brightly lit tower will be on the agenda for the Board meeting taking place Feb. 7. If you would like to voice your concerns about the tower, which is next to a state nature preserve, you may do so via this petition.
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