Sunday 1 November 2015 69 °F
I took advantage of this beautiful Sunday with temperatures in the 60's and clear skies to bird the beautiful Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in Highwood, Illinois with a birding friend Suzanne Coleman. We had a fantastic time - thanks to Suzanne for driving me around also!
Fort Sheridan is a stunning preserve bordering Lake Michigan with rolling hills covered in grassland, deep wooded ravines, and a beautiful view of the lake - which was as smooth as glass on this perfect weather day.
According to some birders we met when we arrived, over 200 raptors had migrated over the preserve during the day but, sadly, before we arrived. Fort Sheridan is renowned in the mid-late fall for its productive raptor flights, which use the Lake Michigan shoreline to guide them southward. Raptors are among the few bird species that actually migrate during the day; most migrate nocturnally! Sadly, the only raptor we saw - since it was getting late in the afternoon - was this distant RED-TAILED HAWK:
Then, we did a bit of lake watching and hoped to find our lifer Snow Buntings which have been reported here recently along the shoreline, but alas, the most interesting find was this immature HERRING GULL:
We found a pocket of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, my first of the season, in a wetland away from the lake:
We also found many SAVANNAH SPARROWS such as this one:
At one point, these four MALLARDS flew over, possibly migrating:
And we spotted a larger raft of 60+ ducks in migration over the lake; however, we could not identify the species:
The sunset was beautiful, and it was soon growing dark. Suddenly, Suzanne spotted something moving on the trail ahead of us. Can you spot it in this photo?
AMERICAN WOODCOCK! A stocky bird in the sandpiper family with a funny name, this is only the second time I have ever seen this species! This and the above photo were taken with flash, but don't worry, these are the only two flash photos I took so as not to disturb him.
And just as we were about to leave, I spotted this GREAT HORNED OWL perched on the distant treeline:
It was a fantastic evening of birding with Suzanne! Thanks again to her!
Bird-of-the-day goes to the AMERICAN WOODCOCK which I have only seen once before, and runner-up to the last bird of the night: the GREAT HORNED OWL, continuing my lucky streak of owls this year! The full species list from the evening is attached below.
World Life List: 865 Species (no life birds today)
25 species (+2 other taxa)
Canada Goose 11
duck sp. 60
Great Blue Heron 1 From Metra
Red-tailed Hawk 2
hawk sp. 1
American Woodcock 2
Ring-billed Gull 4
Herring Gull 1
Mourning Dove 1
Great Horned Owl 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Hairy Woodpecker 2
American Crow 3 From train
American Robin 5
European Starling 1 From train
American Tree Sparrow 7
Fox Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 12
Song Sparrow 2
Red-winged Blackbird 6
Eastern Meadowlark 2
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 5