Saturday 22 August 2015 85 °F
Today my dad and I went on a field trip with the Illinois Young Birders Club to the Kankakee region of eastern Illinois in search of migrant shorebirds and other avian goodies. It was a gorgeous day with sunny skies and moderately hot temperatures at 85 degrees with copious humidity.
After waking up at 5:45am and meeting with the group at a gas station in the small town of Momence at 7:15am, our first birding stop was a farmer's retention ponds where a rare shorebird for Illinois, the Black-necked Stilt, has nested this summer. Upon arriving, we pretty much immediately found this beautiful BLACK-NECKED STILT and eventually found at least two other individuals of this species, as well:
We also found another uncommon shorebird, this migrant SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER of which I captured an image in flight:
BLUE-WINGED TEAL in the water with a CANADA GOOSE in the background:
We also had a heard-only SORA (a type of rail) doing its "whinnying" call at this location.
Then, we continued our outing at a beautiful preserve called the Sweet Fern Savanna. After a bit of searching for the trail itself, we birded the preserve which turned out to be quite beautiful:
The small, red plant in the center of this photo is an Illinois state-threatened insectivorous plant that Dr. Marianne Hahn, the owner of the preserve, pointed out to the group:
Dr. Hahn also told us to watch for the Regal Fritillary Butterfly, a state-endangered and federally-threatened species that depends on rich savanna areas such as the ones at Sweet Fern Savanna. We found multiple of this species:
At one point, the group flushed a pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS which sadly flew away too quickly for photos. So my "owl streak" continues!
Another butterfly species:
We also saw Viceroy, Monarch, and other species of butterflies on the many wildflowers abounding at the preserve.
Here is my life bird BROAD-WINGED HAWK, identification credit Matthew Cvetas!
Tennessee Warbler - identification courtesy of Illinois Young Biders Club co-leader Josh Engel:
Towards the end of our stay at the Sweet Fern Savanna, someone with very keen eyes in our group spotted this tiny green-phase Gray Tree Frog:
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was another unphotographed interesting bird species at Sweet Fern because it is the far northern reach of their range. My dad and I had to leave the field trip early to get back to Oak Park for another engagement; however, we left satisfied because it was a very productive and enjoyable field trip.
The best bird-of-the-day for me was my life bird heard-only NORTHERN BOBWHITE (a type of uncommon quail) at the end of the trip! Runner-up goes to my other life bird, the BROAD-WINGED HAWK. A great way to wrap up a fantastic excursion with the Illinois Young Birders Club. Special thanks goes to Matthew Cvetas, Josh Engel, and Dr. Marianne Hahn for coordinating this field trip and to Dad for driving me.
A COMMON NIGHTHAWK flying over my house this evening made for a nice total of 51 bird species today. Also, later tonight, I will post the first "migration forecast" of autumn 2015 on my scientific birding blog, Arrivals and Influxes:
Because of the busy state of this school year for me, I may not post until August 30 which is the first Oak Park Bird Walk of this fall. Until then, good birding!
World Life List: 865 Species (2 life birds today: Broad-winged Hawk and Northern Bobwhite)
52 species + 2 provisional in total for me today:
NORTHERN BOBWHITE - LIFE BIRD! -
Great Blue Heron
BROAD-WINGED HAWK - LIFE BIRD! -
GREAT HORNED OWL
Northern Rough-winged Swallow