A Travellerspoint blog

Scouting the Palos Preserves

Cook County, IL

sunny 86 °F

Next monday, Jake Cvetas and I will take on Eddie K and Isoo in our first-ever “Cook County big day — competition.” From sunrise (5:18am) to sunset (8:20pm), both teams will compete to find the most birds in Cook in one day in June. We decided to break into teams of two this year in order to further limit of chances of being possible carriers of Coronavirus.

So, in preparation for the upcoming competition, this morning, Tian and I covered the Palos area preserves today to “scout out” which areas would be the most important for Jake and I to cover on Monday.

We started at Spears Woods in the Palos district along LaGrange Road. Bird-wise it was extremely quiet so I turned to herping to see if I could find any of my slimy friends hiding under logs.

And that, I did! I even found two large, grayish Mole Salamanders!

As well as a few of the more-common Blue-spotted:

Super duper cool. Any time spent with these elusive creatures is a real blessing. The next stop, Pulaski Woods, delivered a few quality birds including VEERY, WOOD THRUSH, TUFTED TITMOUSE, and ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, but none of them were cooperative for photos.

So next, Tian and I continued on to McClaughry Springs Woods where, for the first time ever, I actually found the LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH that is known to breed along the stream there! I even heard it before leaving the car, and it afforded some nice looks. Look at that clear, white throat! This characteristic separates it from the Northern Waterthrush.

Otherwise, very quiet and I failed to find my other target the Summer Tanager. So, I was about to leave as I was chatting with another birder when a long-tailed bird flew across the parking area into a nearby stand of trees and I shouted, “cuckoo!” So, immediately, the two of us hurried over and I quickly got trained my camera on my third BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO of the spring! So cool — this is the greatest number of Black-billeds I have ever seen in a single year. I attribute this to luck, birding even more, and increased observation skills throughout the years.

A quick drive through Palos Park did not yield my hoped-for Carolina Wren, but I did spot a flyover YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, making it a two-cuckoo day!

Next stop: Cap Sauer Holding in search of Summer Tanager and any other quality breeding bird species in the area. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were out in numbers.

And the OSPREY was on her nest over nearby Bergman Slough:

And her mate!

Also in the raptor department was a flyover BALD EAGLE:

And I was stoked to get a flyover BROAD-WINGED HAWK, a great breeding bird for Cook and good news for the coming big day.

This female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK posed nicely at Cap Sauer.

And I tracked down one of two singing BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS in the area, very cool!

I finally did in fact find the hoped-for SUMMER TANAGER but it was a quick glimpse of a singing male and he quickly flew away. Darn! Still, a great bird for Cook.


And her nest:

Our last stop of the day was McGinnis Slough in search of the breeding Trumpeter Swans there. Tian and I sat down on the grass for a while and enjoyed a refreshing coke (“happy water” as she calls it) since the heat of the day was getting to us and we needed a pick-me-up.


And after a quick call to Isoo to tip me off to spotting the Trumpeter Swans, one adult swan swam into view on the opposite side of the slough. VERY awesome — this is usually a super hard bird for Cook and super cool that they are nesting at this one location this year. Hopefully this spells good news for this species in the county!

So, despite some quiet patches, it was indeed a very productive morning and as always, so special to spend time with dear Tian. Bird-of-the-day to the Louisiana Waterthrush with runners-up to the Trumpeter Swan, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Broad-winged Hawk. A nice assortment of uncommon breeding birds from which to choose, and a great sign for the coming big day!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1115 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:39 Archived in USA

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