A Travellerspoint blog

Nighttime Rail Search & Afternoon Herping

Cook County, IL

overcast 45 °F

Yesterday, my friends Jake, Eddie, Isoo, and I joined forces to search for the elusive Yellow Rail at Bartel Grassland in southern Cook County, IL. Although all of our plodding around the wet grassland did not yield a single Yellow Rail (they are very shy and uncommon), we did have several other marsh species in the night including VIRGINIA RAILS & SORA, HENSLOW’S SPARROW, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, WILSON’S SNIPE, and BLUE-WINGED TEAL. So some good species, even if most of them were heard-only!

Today, I wanted to do some herping (finding reptiles/amphibian) so I headed to Cook County’s oldest forest preserve, Deer Grove, where amazingly the Townsend’s Warbler from last week has remained in place! So, I hoped to find that bird as will as hopefully some salamanders (by flipping over fallen logs, etc).

My day started with a HERMIT THRUSH in the backyard, always a good sign:

And one of my first birds at Deer Grove was a pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS! Sooooo cool!

Bye there!

A mixed flock of passerines was around, which was a good sign for finding the Townsend’s. BROWN CREEPER:

And an even better sign was the presence of warblers, including YELLOW-RUMPED:

And my first PALM since returning home:

Then, a little yellow bird flitted into my sight and lo and behold, the TOWNSEND’S WARBLER appeared out of nowhere! Truly magical — WHAT A BIRD! Every time I see one of these beauties I count myself immensely lucky.

Cute little WINTER WREN:


Despite flipping over what seemed like a hundred logs (and in great, boggy forested habitat), I couldn’t find any salamanders or otherwise any herps apart from the Painted Turtles:

Anyone have a flower ID? These were tiny and beautiful.


My next stop was for shorebirds but, despite great habitat and conditions, I only found a few KILLDEER. Here is a glimpse of the habitat:

A quick stop at Buttonbush Slough yielded a heard-only SORA and this SWAMP SPARROW. Unfortunately, no Yellow Rail — hah!

Then, I headed to McClaughry Springs Woods to try some more herping and to see what forest birds I could find. WOOD DUCKS:


TUFTED TITMOUSE, always a nice bird to see in Cook County:


And this Accipiter flew by at one point. COOPER’S HAWK with a full crop, I think.

And my favorite bird at McClaughry was a regal male PILEATED WOODPECKER, a really nice bird to see anywhere, in Cook County or not. Such prehistoric creatures!

Bird-of-the-day to the Townsend’s Warbler with runners-up to the Great Horned Owl & Pileated Woodpecker. Stay tuned for more adventures!!!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1113 Species (no life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 19:39 Archived in USA

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I believe your flower is Bloodroot. We continue to enjoy your posts daily.

by Judy Fitchett

Thanks for the wonderful photos!
The wildflower looks like bloodroot.
Sanguinaria canadensis
This fragile spring flower develops and rises from the center of its curled leaf, opening in full sun, and closing at night. Like most members of the Poppy Family, it lasts for a relatively short time. The red juice from the underground stem was used by Native Americans as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint, as well as for insect repellent. The generic name, from the Latin sanguinarius, means bleeding.

by Melissa Kirk

You and my Mom are kindred spirits! Her favorite Spring pastime was looking for salamanders! Hope all is well with you and yours, ME

by Mary Ellen Kimble

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