A Travellerspoint blog

Miller Meadow hawkwatch & a Montrose Twitch

Cook County, IL

all seasons in one day 40 °F

A few days ago Tian and I headed to Miller Meadow to monitor any raptors that might be moving on WNW winds. And once I heard of a southbound Golden Eagle an hour of north of us, I absolutely had to get out in the slim chance it would pass by, following the Des Plaines River.

Once we got to the top of Kestrel Hill for viewing, I spotted a distant finch perched on a bare tree. Though I wish it were a Crossbill or Grosbeak, it turned out to be a PURPLE FINCH, a decent find nonetheless:

The first raptor of the afternoon, the local AMERICAN KESTREL, hawked over the hill at one point:


A fast-flying SHARP-SHINNED HAWK bolted past — a species I seldom get to photograph so this was cool:

It was a big day for SANDHILL CRANE migration — they tend to migrate in the fall on chilly days with northwesterly winds, and this was no exception.

By far the best bird-of-the-day though was a quick, unphotographed flyover of an EVENING GROSBEAK that zipped over the field, calling. Too bad I didn’t snap a pic but its “deer” “deer” “deer” call is very recognizable. Truly cool! My first one ever in Illinois. Unfortunately that Golden Eagle didn’t feel like flying by Miller, at least while I was there...

Yesterday, I was in complete agony most of the day as a Cassin’s Sparrow had been spotted by Montrose Point birder Bob Hughes early in the morning — BUT my dad was recording a recital downtown and had the car. So, I had to wait till mid-afternoon to chase this species which has only shown up three times before in Illinois.

Tian and I hopped into the car before two and headed straight to Montrose, and sure enough there was a small posse of birders including Josh E and Ian S huddled around a pine tree at the appointed location. CASSIN’S SPARROW! Life bird #1122 for me and a bird much more expected in states like Colorado and New Mexico — an absolute MEGA for Illinois and an incredible spot by Bob as this bird is the literal definition of an LBJ (little brown job). That being said, I think the bird is actually beautifully patterned in a subtle, classy way. I like its style, but then again I like any life bird.

I then dipped again on Common Redpoll which I still need for the year, so Tian and I headed a bit further south to Diversey Harbor to search for another year bird: SNOW GOOSE. We pulled up, I scanned for a few minutes, and soon spotted it as a bright speck all the way across the harbor hanging out with a gaggle of CANADA GEESE right next to LSD! Hilarious! It seemed unfazed by all of the speeding cars merely feet away.

So, it was on to the day’s fourth target: Harris’ Sparrow! This is another rarity but is encountered annually once or twice in the area so a little more expected then the Cassin’s, but only slightly. We drove down to North Pond where this bird was being seen and immediately began scanning the sparrows in the flocks present feeding on the lawn. Here it was also nice to see fellow birder Lyn who has come on my bird walks!

Its common cousin the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:




Unfortunately, despite the Harris’ being reported to have been hanging out with the Juncos, the search for this bird was to no avail. And so yesterday was a case study in birding productivity: you win some, you lose some, BUT it is always worth trying — I got a solid life bird out of yesterday’s efforts! Love a nice Cassin’s Sparrow, my bird-of-the-day for yesterday. Runner-up to the Snow Goose. Stay tuned, and STAY SAFE!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1122 species (1 life bird: Cassin’s Sparrow)

Posted by skwclar 21:01 Archived in USA

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Great birding, nice lifer Henry! Hi to all of you and your family!

by Poo

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