Friday, April 26, 2024

Golden dreams and memories

Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to where we parked the RV at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.  We are here for a Medical School Graduation, our oldest twin, Tyko Seth graduates Rush Medical today and then off he goes for his internship/residency to Milwaukee.

When we graduated medical school, we went to Glacier National Park. I had a marmot steal a hiking boot on a pass in Montana when my wife and I, well, we got caught up in the moment, and it was thanks to a Mountain goat licking an exposed part of me that clued me in that my boot was going underground. We turned around and went to Chincoteague NWR to see birds.  We found long lost relatives in Maryland, we saw Ted Koppel from Television skipping dip in the Potomac River.  We watched a boy scout tent, blow away.  We saw birds.  We camped next to a madman in Pennsylvania who chopped wood all night at a campground, and we feared we were next.  On a second trip out east, I almost lost a 1962 Ford Galaxie on a car trailer on I-80 when the hitch broke and it almost careened down 200 feet into a gully.  On one of our many visits with cops on that trip with my grandmother, the police ordered me to get headlights and so I rigged a wire from the battery to the taillights, using a lot of duct tape. It got us home. Then we moved to Danville, Pennsylvania.  The rest, history, I guess.

We hope our son has a good break as well.  I have to move some of his junk from our garage.

We spent two nights ago in a fairgrounds in Indiana.  The RV almost got stuck.  It should have gotten stuck, but we camped on a road instead.  I needed to get to Indiana to go pick up books in N. Manchester, and luckily that worked out, and we got through the Loop in Chi-town without incident.

This book project was a big project, and now I just have to sell them.  People seem to want the artwork more than the book.

At the Newton County Fairgrounds, I did see a red-headed woodpecker and then another, and another, they hung around long enough for me to get a camera

This was my grandmother's favorite "summer" bird, they used to live on the electric poles in NW Wisconsin, but I have not seen one in Burnett County in 40 years.  I guess my birding is also "Burnett County Revisted."  She even had a cool plastic model of one in the basement I always admired as a kid.  I wonder where that got off to?

So, what bird do I need in Chicago?

The European goldfinch story of how they came to America, were released is vague and inconsistent.  In a paper from Craves and Anich recently published document the first known breeding of these birds around Chicago was in 2003.  There is no smoking gun on the release they just say they originate from cage bird releases from a Chicago dealer prior to 2003.  They moved north of town and then settled.

Another European bird, the Great tit, is also suspected to have come from the same situation, but they moved north first Milwaukee and then near Sheboygan.  In my coming and going from Ripon College, my sons including Tyko went there from 2013-2017, I have lectured there as well and attended 1984-1988, I had heard about the birds.  I saw my first one of those in Kohler, Wisconsin in 2014

Olaf's lifer North American great tit, March 2014, Kohler WI, it was a "Bucket list" item for me, but not a listing bird, although it should be, as it qualifies to be on the list as an established exotic.  I doubt Wisconsin will ever add it to their list however.  I love seeing this bird in Europe and Asia, they are always fun to see.

Due a lot to the paper on the European goldfinch, and the Illinois bird committee's attitude, the ABA added it to the list, it has now become a countable exotic, I have not seen in the USA. I have not bothered to go get it.  

This being the last reason for us to be in Chicago for a while, I need to get it this weekend or it may take a while. 

The European goldfinch is a bird I have tallied only nine times before worldwide, in France, Sweden, and Scotland, most of which qualifying for my "sans clothing" list and I have only taken two decent photos of the bird, sometimes because where I see them, I can't have a camera, sometimes that they flit high in pine trees, and sometimes because. they are pretty common.

But as you see, I do not need to get a better photo, this one from 2022 in Scotland, is pretty good, so the fact that I have few photos is a misnomer.

Anyhow, this morning I went out to see them, truth be told, I saw one yesterday, but not very well, and I got no photo, so I did not count it.  They are not the easiest to find this time of year, especially in the middle of a large state park.  Today on my way to the shower, I did better, I saw them and photographed them.  It was in the shower that I had my issues, I could not get the shower turned off, sort of a Seinfeld moment.  So there it is, another addition to my Continental ABA list.  

 They are not Natural Geographic quality, but they are the bird. 
To be honest, I remember being happier getting that Scottish bird's photo, maybe because the sun had not been out for six days and since I have so rarely got a photo of that bird.  Now, on with graduation, my parents land in two hours, I need to get dressed, the car cleaned out of books, and through the traffic jam to O'Hare....the weekend fun is just beginning!



  1. Congratulations to your son. Good job enjoying life no matter what is thrown at you.


Golden dreams and memories

  Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to ...