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Last bird walk & flycatcher chase!

sunny 60 °F

Yesterday morning, in unseasonably cool temperatures, I led my last Oak Park Bird Walk of the season! We started from my house and walked the usual route up to Taylor Park and back. Along the way, we spotted an AMERICAN ROBIN nest:
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And another nest that the robin is not too happy about — the COOPER’S HAWK of 830 Fair Oaks.
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There was a bit more bird activity in Taylor Park including CEDAR WAXWINGS:
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And a male YELLOW WARBLER:
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And the walk ended with another migrant warbler, a first-year AMERICAN REDSTART. Nice to get migrants up to the last day of may.
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Upon arriving home and using my inhaler (due to horrible allergies that seem to always be the worst when I walk around Oak Park), I saw that a would-be life bird rarity was continuing from the day before up in Lake County: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!! So, I hopped in the car and drove an hour north nearly to the Wisconsin border to chase this long-tailed, elegantly-colored species. Many birders were present and we searched high and low, finding a bunch of other species including SANDHILL CRANE:
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And among the many, many DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS at the cormorant rookery, there was a single NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, about half the size of a Double-crested, that we all got to enjoy! An Illinois life bird for me and a super cool find since this species’ typical range is much closer to the Gulf of Mexico.
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PURPLE MARTINS were flying around among a diverse mixed flock of swallows.
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But alas, the Scissor-tailed had gone MIA. So, I decided to stay around the area to search for other northern Lake County goodies while having the option to head back to try for the bird again. The obvious choice was Illinois Beach State Park where I struck out on hoped-for rails, and otherwise it was mostly quiet with a few exceptions. A perky raccoon and I had a stare-down near Sand Pond at one point.
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And at the South Unit, I found a classic dunes bird of the State Park: BREWER’S BLACKBIRD! This is the only place in the state where this species nests, I believe.
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Another notable at the state park was a LARK SPARROW, which unfortunately was heard-only.

So, after a quick bite to eat, I decided to return to Trumpet Marsh to give the Scissor-tailed one last shot. I thought I’d at least give it a fair try since I had come up all that way. An OSPREY was there to greet me upon returning:
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SAVANNAH SPARROWS were singing all over the place in the scrubby fields around the area.
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I even found a male BLUE-WINGED TEAL at a possible nesting site which was super cool. This species can be regarded as an “indicator species” for wetlands.
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A Traill’s Flycatcher also made an experience. This bird is either a Willow or an Alder (I’m leaning Willow), but this time of year can only be distinguished by voice while the two identical species are both migrating through.
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Alas, I dipped on its cousin, the Scissor-tailed. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes! Bird-of-the-day to the Neotropic Cormorant which is actually a hell of a consolation bird since usually there’s only a few in Illinois each year, and runner-up to the Brewer’s Blackbirds at Beach Park. Stay tuned: this week, I may lay low for a bit due to an extremely turbulent & dangerous rioting situation here in Chicago, but on Saturday, my family and I will rent an RV and head out west to South Dakota (sigh of relief). That should bring some incredible birding opportunities and, although wifi may be an issue for posting during the trip, I can’t wait to share with my finds, whenever that may be.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1115 Species

Posted by skwclar 08:49 Archived in USA

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I'm glad you and your family are getting out of the city now- it's better out in the country. Have fun!

by liz cifani

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