A Travellerspoint blog

May 2016

Miller Meadows Bird Walk & Columbus Park

all seasons in one day 82 °F

Today, I led a bird walk at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood, IL and then did a bit of birding in Columbus Park, IL.

Eight birders showed up for the bird walk, which turned out to be quite productive. The best non-photographed bird we had was a pair of YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS, a great species, that simply moved through the vegetation too quickly for photos.

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER at the beginning of the walk:






One of at least six GREAT BLUE HERONS seen on the walk:


First-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE, a nice find:

It was a great walk! Here is the full species list for the walk:

38 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 5
Wood Duck 2
Great Blue Heron 6 Conservative count, probably 7 or 8. Two birds were seen perched in the trees on the edge of the north meadow and the others were all flyovers.
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 20
Mourning Dove 4
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2 Seen briefly in some small trees on the east side of the meadows.
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 2
Warbling Vireo 3
Blue Jay 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Tree Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 4
House Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
American Robin 15
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Savannah Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 5
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Dickcissel 3
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Eastern Meadowlark 4
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Orchard Oriole 1
Baltimore Oriole 1
blackbird sp. 2
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 1

Following the walk, Aerin Tedesco and I birded Columbus Park where it was overall quiet but nice to get out for a walk on a nice summer morning.

There were a few birds; however, including this EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:

And a good number of WOOD DUCKS:

Thanks to Aerin Tedesco for giving me a ride home from the birding.

Bird-of-the-day for today goes to the first-year male Orchard Oriole identified first by Aerin at Miller Meadows. Usually the Yellow-billed Cuckoo would get bird-of-the-day, but they wil have to settle for runner-up since they didn't allow for photographs!

The next Miller Meadows bird walks will both take place at 8:00am on June 4 & June 25 - meet at the west parking lot off of 1st Ave.

Good birding,

World Life List: 885 Species (no life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 21:12 Archived in USA Tagged me lakes people trees animals birds sky Comments (0)

Piping Plover, Part 2!

sunny 76 °F

Today, the last day of my Memorial Day weekend in Michigan with my aunt Mary and uncle Mory, my uncle and I drove to Muskegon State Park again in hopes of getting more photos of the Piping Plovers nesting on the beach.

We saw a deer on the drive there:

Once we arrived, we found the nest of PIPING PLOVERS we had found on Saturday; however, we also found a second nest nearby due to the tip of a worker there. Thanks! The second nest had two adult birds and at least three speckled eggs (that I could see).

Then, we had an amazing photo shoot with foraging adult plovers on the beach. Here is my uncle Mory with his camera. The beach was absolutely beautiful.

Here are my photos, enjoy!

Bird-of-the-day goes to the beautifully cooperative Piping Plovers, a threatened species, as we saw a total of three adult birds and at least five eggs amongst the two nests. Very cool!

The full species list from Muskegon State Park is attached below.

Stay tuned, I am leading a bird walk at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve tomorrow!

Good birding,

World Life List: 885 Species (no recent life birds)

22 species (+2 other taxa)

Mute Swan 1 Flyover
Double-crested Cormorant 6
Piping Plover 3 One nest with 2 adults & at least 3 eggs; one nest with only 1 adult and at least 2 eggs.
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 9
Herring Gull 1
tern sp. 2 Probably Caspian.
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
Tree Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 2
swallow sp. 4
American Redstart 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 1

Posted by skwclar 10:16 Archived in USA Tagged me landscapes beaches people trees animals birds sky Comments (1)


semi-overcast 80 °F

Today I birded with my Uncle Mory at the Allegan State Game Area in southwest Michigan in search of a few target warblers. We were hoping to find Cerulean, Prothonotary, Hooded, and Blue-winged Warblers, with our main goal being a prospective life bird for both of us - the Worm-eating Warbler.

We found this INDIGO BUNTING near the beginning of the trail where we would search for the warblers.

We ended up seeing or hearing all of our target warbler species except for the Prothonotary; however, they were all extremely, let me repeat - extremely, uncooperative and allowed for fleeting glimpses at the most.

The only photo I obtained of the main target bird of the day, the Worm-eating Warbler, was this terrible one. And the only reason why I got this photo is because I had to creep around through the dense thorns and briars, on a 45-degree angle wooded hillside, for twenty minutes. In the process, I got a few scratches, picked up a tick (what a nasty creature!), obtained this miserable photo of the bird, and became very frustrated and hot!

It was actually productive, yet frustrating, birding. I identified many birds by ear, including goodies such as BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, and even YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, yet I failed to see any of these - and this was the case for many more birds today, as well.

Later in the evening because my uncle and I were in Grand Rapids for a wedding reception, we searched for a pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS that are nesting downtown. At one point, one falcon flew over us; however, it soon flew out of sight and we were never able to obtain any photographs.

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Indigo Bunting, with no awards to the annoying warblers. Runner-up to the Peregrine Falcon. The full list can be found below. It was a good day of birding, but the birds were just not very cooperative!

Thanks to my Uncle Mory for driving and birding with me today!

World Life List: 885 Species (1 life bird today: Worm-eating Warbler)

Posted by skwclar 20:07 Archived in USA Tagged me people trees animals birds Comments (0)

Oak Park Bird Walk & Piping Plover!

semi-overcast 75 °F

Today, before my family and I drove to Michigan, I led a bird walk starting from my house at 7:00am - the final neighborhood bird walk of the spring (although I have three more walks scheduled to take place in Miller Meadows Forest Preserve). It was well attended, with 11 birders in total, and we had a lively time.

The birds were rather few and far between; however, there were a few highlights including this beautiful male COOPER'S HAWK:

Male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, a nice sighting for Oak Park:

The best bird of the walk was probably this male CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER which posed nicely over the group:

It was a fantastic walk! 28 avian species were identified, see the list here:

28 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 17 Flyover.
Mallard 2
Great Blue Heron 1 Flyover.
Green Heron 1 Flyover.
Cooper's Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 3
Mourning Dove 1
Chimney Swift 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
flycatcher sp. (Tyrannidae sp.) 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3
American Crow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 2
House Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
American Robin 10
European Starling 2
American Redstart 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 8
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 3
House Sparrow 20

Then, my mom, sister, and I loaded up the car and drove to Michigan (my dad will join us late tomorrow). In mid-afternoon, we met my Aunt Mary and Uncle Mory at the house they are renting in Grand Haven (where I am staying this weekend), and my Uncle Mory and I drove to Muskegon State Park in search for a cute shorebird called the Piping Plover, which would be a life bird for both of us. Not only is this a cute bird, but it is a threatened and declining species due to habitat loss, so it would be fantastic to see.

Sure enough, a fenced-off area of the beach adjacent to the second parking lot on the right held a cage-like structure which contained a Piping Plover guarding her nest.

It is a wild bird, and therefore countable for my list, because it can freely move in and out of nest enclosure, which was put there by biologists to further protect this endangered species' nest from predators - especially dogs and gulls. At one point, the plover popped out of the enclosure to forage around a bit, providing for better photo ops:

A few FORSTER'S TERNS, an uncommon species for Michigan, were seen roosting on the beach:

And my uncle and I hiked a trail away from the beach; however, it was largely devoid of birds despite its beautiful sand dune landscape:

Here is the bird list for Muskegon State Park:

16 species (+3 other taxa)

Turkey Vulture 3
Piping Plover 1 One adult bird sitting on nest within enclosure right off of the second parking lot, as approached from the north. It got up once and poked around, possibly foraging.
Ring-billed Gull 8
Forster's Tern 2 Note slender bill, small size, and relatively small area of black on the birds' heads. Seen on beach with Ring-billed Gulls, kind of close to the Piping Plover area.
tern sp. 1 My guess is Caspian based on size, but too brief of a look.
Chimney Swift 3
woodpecker sp. 1 Probably a Hairy, but too brief of a look.
Red-eyed Vireo 3
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 2
Common Yellowthroat 1
American Redstart 2
Yellow Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
warbler sp. (Parulidae sp.) 2 Either Blackburnians or Parulas.
Chipping Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 5

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Piping Plover, life bird #885 and my first life bird in quite a while! Runner-up to the Forster's Terns seen on the beach near the plover. It was a fantastic day!

Stay tuned, tomorrow I will do some local birding near our place in Grand Haven in the morning, and I will attend a family wedding in the afternoon.

Good birding,

World Life List: 885 Species (1 life bird today: Piping Plover)

Posted by skwclar 20:29 Archived in USA Tagged me landscapes lakes beaches people children trees animals birds sky Comments (0)

Oak Park Migrants & Miller Meadows Bird Walk

all seasons in one day 88 °F

Hooray! I am FINALLY done with school for the year - this extremely hectic sophomore year is over!

We are nearing the end of spring migration; however, there is still a good amount of birds coming through and we are in the thick of the breeding season, also a great time to look for avian species. The overall reaction to the large photos with which I experimented on the last post was positive, so from now on I will post large-sized photos. Remind me if I forget!

Some birding around the neighborhood on Wednesday yielded a few migrants, including this absolutely beautiful male BLACKPOLL WARBLER, usually a species of high treetops that doesn't afford this good of views. In this photo he has a midday snack:


OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER - a really nice surprise and the first one I have ever seen in Illinois:

Male BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, starting to get a bit late for these guys to still be hanging around:

Bird-of-the-day for Wednesday goes to the Olive-sided Flycatcher, with runner-up to the Blackpoll Warbler.

Today (Friday, May 27) was my first day of summer vacation and I led a bird walk at Miller Meadow Forest Preserve. Although it was cut rather short due to rain, we did see a good number of grassland birds like this SAVANNAH SPARROW:


Also a rather distant EASTERN MEADOWLARK:

A beautiful male DICKCISSEL threw his head back in song:

This bird confused the group, but thanks to the online Illinois birding community, it was identified as a female BOBOLINK:

There was a stunning male around as well. This is the only bird in North America that has black on the underside and light coloring on top.

Bird-of-the-day for today goes to the pair of BOBOLINKS, with runner-up to the male DICKCISSEL. Full list is below.

Stay tuned, because I am leading an Oak Park Bird Walk tomorrow, and then I will be spending the Memorial Day weekend in Michigan where I will be attending a family wedding...and also BIRDING (of course!) with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Mory. We have a list of ridiculously awesome target birds for the weekend including Piping Plover, Cerulean, Prothonotary, Worm-eating, and even Kirtland's Warblers! It should be a fantastic way to kick off the summer!

Good birding,

World Life List: 884 Species (no recent life birds)

24 species (+1 other taxa) today:

Canada Goose 34
Mallard 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Willow Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 2
American Robin 2
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Yellow Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 5
Song Sparrow 3
Dickcissel 1
Bobolink 2
Red-winged Blackbird 15
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle 1
Baltimore Oriole 4
American Goldfinch 3
passerine sp. 1 Female Bobolink?

Posted by skwclar 08:45 Archived in USA Tagged me landscapes people trees animals birds sky Comments (0)

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