A Travellerspoint blog

Two days; two twitches

Cook County, IL

all seasons in one day 72 °F

A “twitch” is when a birder chases a rare bird; that I did both today and yesterday.

Yesterday, April 6, I drove up to Howard Street and the lakefront in order to see a male Harlequin Duck that had been reported there earlier in the morning. The most common bird around was probably the RED-BREASTED MERGANSER:

With a smattering of flyby DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS:

Unfortunately, I missed the bird and even more frustratingly, other birders found it yesterday afternoon (and today) again! I had come in the one mid-day window when the bird was missing. Ay carramba.

Today I was after some Smith’s Longspurs alerted to me by the amazing Isoo O’Brien. He had found them earlier in the day at Orland Grassland South in the morning, so considering the fact that I have only ever seen this bird once before, I booked it to Orland after my vocal coaching. Birds were certainly on the move today with the mild temps including vultures, herons, and egrets:

Waterbirds were also present in and around the lagoons at Orland Grassland South. This photo is an interesting study — featured is a male NORTHERN SHOVELER with a sleeping pair of GREEN-WINGED TEAL in the background and two chunky WILSON’S SNIPE resting behind the teal.


Another teal with two AMERICAN COOTS:

CASPIAN TERN, my first of the year:

Always happy to get a semi-decent photo of a non-flushed-up WILSON’S SNIPE!

Raptors were also out and about, including an AMERICAN KESTREL & this RED-TAILED HAWK:


Any smaller sparrow-like birds caught my eye today because the longspur is a rather diminutive, beautifully-patterned songbird that tends to flush before you can get eyes on it, giving a characteristic rattling call. Alas, this was just a SAVANNAH SPARROW:

And my heart especially jumped when I saw a sparrow with white tail feathers (a characteristic shared by the Longspur), but it turned out to be a VESPER SPARROW. This, though not my target, is still a great bird for the county!

Well, two days and two dips. What can I say? Sometimes, you just have bad luck...I may try again for the Harlequin Duck tomorrow if it is refound (it is a GORGEOUS adult male).

Bird-of-the-day yesterday to all those Red-breasted Mergansers on the Lake. Today the award goes to the Vesper Sparrow. Hoping for my luck to turn around!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1111 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:49 Archived in USA

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