A Travellerspoint blog

Summer Doldrums

Lake County, IL

all seasons in one day 89 °F

Today, we finally had a (relatively) smoke-free day, so Parker and I joined my friend Oliver for a day of birding and herping the Illinois Beach State Park area. Targets were: King Rail, Common Tern, Brewer’s Blackbird, Chestnut-sided & Hooded Warblers, Eastern Foxsnake, and Eastern Hognose Snake.

We started just across the state line at an adjacent prairie area where we were greeted by EASTERN BLUEBIRDS:

And a proliferation of DICKCISSELS:

It was already heating up substantially and this drought has resulted in very few wet patches in areas that would usually be marsh, so we decided the long(ish) walk to some longshot King Rails was not worth the sweat. So, we headed into the State Park to check for snakes and on the way in found some Eastern Painted Turtles out basking:



No snakes were found at our snake spot, probably due to the fact that it is mid-summer and hot, so we continued on to search for Brewer’s Blackbirds and anything else that might be around.


While waiting for the Brewer’s Blackbirds to appear, we had this KILLDEER along the lakefront:

And right after Oliver said “I bet we will get them further back in the dunes,” as we were walking into the dunes from the lakefront, this male BREWER’S BLACKBIRD materialized on a shrub in front of us! Super cool that this population, the only one in the entire state of Illinois, persists. This is a western species.

And more Painters on the way out.

Our next stop was Lyons Woods in search of Chestnut-sided and Hooded Warblers. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD:

And my heart skipped a beat when I saw this bird — seeing a bright yellow bird with a bright white vent immediately brought “Evening Grosbeak” to the front of my mind which triggered quite the psychosomatic response, but my rational brain corrected within three seconds to the more logical, and correct, ID of CEDAR WAXWING — Oliver got quite a laugh when I explained this to him. Eh, heat hallucination…

Yep. Waxwing, lol…

Again, due to the midsummer heat, we dipped on our targets…midsummer birding is tough and today was no exception. Luckily, after a bit of searching at our next stop, Waukegan Harbor, we snagged our main target there: COMMON TERN, which annoyingly never banked to the side for a decent shot so I’m just left with this rump shot. Was an IL year bird for us, and this is also the only place in IL where this species breeds to my knowledge.

One nice surprise on the way out was this ratty HOODED MERGANSER in the harbor:

Bird-of-the-day to the Brewer’s Blackbird with runner-up to the Common Tern. Nice to see these Lake County specialties, and to bird with Oliver, even if the rest of the day was slow.

Now: off to Verbier, Switzerland!!! I’ll arrive there this monday, and I sing in the young artist programme there from July 9-31, followed by my annual Idaho vacation for birding & hiking August 1-8, followed by another hop across the pond to sing in the great cathedrals of England from August 9-21 before flying back to New York. I will most likely again fall far behind in posting, but eventually everything will get posted here!

Happy birding,
World Life List: 1151 Species

Posted by skwclar 00:21 Archived in USA

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