Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time to Catch up

Hi all,

It has been forever since I have posted here. I apologize, and hope to get this blog back up and running. This spring has been very interesting. Last year, I missed so many Warblers and other spring migrants, and this year, I am only missing 5 of the 37 usual Warbler species expected in Illinois. Well, onto the great birds!

On May 1st, I attended the Illinois Young Birders walk to Waterfall Glen in DuPage County. We had an extraordinary day with fantastic birds, such as this very early Black-throated Blue Warbler,

Scarlet Tanager

Blackburnian Warbler

A nice singing Palm Warbler

We also ran across some Morel Mushrooms which happen to be edible, such as this one below

Also, we found a butterfly, a new on for me called a Comma

Overall, it was a great day, with a huge amount of migrants and overall fun with old friends.

The next weekend, May 14th and 15th, I joined Craig Taylor and Tim Kuesel for some birding in Gallatin County for the Spring Bird Count, which is about 6 hours from Chicago in Southern Illinois. I was ready for an adventure, which is exactly what I got. We were prepared for vast flooding, but definitely not the amount there actually was. About 80% of the County was unbirdable. This made species few and far between, since we couldn't even get to them. We were at about 40-50 species at 10:00 in the morning, and we were preparing to go to another county and see some other birds that we would miss on the trip. One area we really needed to get to was the Shawnee National Forest. All of the roads we knew into there were closed, which was very saddening and was costing us a huge amount of birds. But then, we happened to find a road. It was a private road, but open to the public during that time due to the flooding. It ventured into the hills, which was prime habitat like the Shawnee. YES! We got out of the car at the base of the hill, and had some birds like this beautiful Male Summer Tanager

Then, on the drive up, during periodic stops, we ran into a ton of birds like this Louisiana Waterthrush

Kentucky Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler (showed greatly, but did not when I brought the camera out...)

and this Wood Thrush whose nest I found

We also ran into a pocket of migrants, which contained about 10-15 new species of Warblers. At the top of the hill, we ran into some farmland, containing a Vesper Sparrow, about 15-20 Dicksissels, and a beautiful Lark Sparrow

At the end of the day, we got 103 Species, and had one of the weirdest days of birding I have ever experienced.

The next day, we traveled West to Williamson County, and entered Crab Orchard NWR.

Here, we had some more great birds, and we ran into a Bobwhite, this time wanting to show itself, and not just call from a hidden location.

We also had some more Dicksissel's, one of which posed for about .5 seconds.

Then, on our last stop of the trip, we stopped in Coles County on our way home, and ventured to the Douglas-Hart Nature Preserve to try to find some migrants for Craig and Tim to add to their county list. We did find a few migrants like this Scarlet Tanager

American Redstart

Black-and-White Warbler

And another Scarlet Tanager, this time a female

Overall, Southern Illinois was very strange, but also amazing. We had some fantastic birds, and this was a trip I would never forget. Thank you Craig and Tim for letting me tag along and experience some great birding.


Lastly, I went birding at Montrose and along the lakefront Sunday, May 15 with Geoff Williamson. We had a quirky day to say the least. The wind was 25-35 MPH strong, and was always blowing. At Montrose we had a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a flock of Terns which contained some Caspian Terns, about 200 Common Terns and 4 Forester's Terns. There was one Common Tern with a broken wing, which we called the Bird Collision Monitors and alerted them. They quickly came to pick it up, which you can see here

And here is a close up of the bird, which we all hoped would be okay, and be able to fly again

Later, we came to North Pond, and found a few birds, including this Lincoln's Sparrow

Magnolia Warbler

and this female Blackpoll Warbler

This was one of the most horrid days of birding to be on the lakefront, due to the powerful winds and rain mixed in. Thanks Geoff, for staying with it, and helping me find some more birds for my year list. My total stands at 193 species for Illinois at the moment, and should grow with time and effort.

Thanks for reading, I hope to post soon about my upcoming trip to Palos with the Chicago Ornithological Society.

'Till next time,