A Travellerspoint blog

June 2014

A Morning at Fort Sheridan

semi-overcast 80 °F

This morning I visited a beautiful forest preserve in Lake County, Illinois called Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. I was there from 7:50am-11:00am, enjoying the beautiful scenery, overall nature, and best of all, the amazing birds! Fort Sheridan is known to be one of the premier birding locations in northeast Illinois and it did not let me down today because I saw fifty-three avian species including a life bird and a federally threatened bird.

It is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan:
4E88BF882219AC68173C05F47B875537.jpg

Most of the preserve is a large expanse of grassland blanketed with wildflowers. There were so many flowers around that you could actually smell it in the air. It has to be the best-maintained forest preserve I have ever visited.
4E84C8DF2219AC68176806FD0DE90B1E.jpg

SAVANNAH SPARROWS, small brown birds in the new world sparrow family with an attractive yellow eyebrow, are one of the most common birds in the preserve:
4E85FB072219AC68177E6FC5CA82B07D.jpg

American Toads are also very common there and can be seen hopping away from you into the tall grasses:
4E876B5B2219AC68170F3D1F91A78526.jpg

I gained one life bird today: BOBOLINK, a species of bird in the family that includes blackbirds, meadowlarks, and orioles, that lives exclusively in grassland areas, such as the large grassland at Fort Sheridan:
4E853A452219AC6817556CC1CC4D6EB3.jpg

CEDAR WAXWING:
4E8598982219AC6817391932DADEE39F.jpg

EASTERN KINGBIRD:
4E892D2C2219AC6817BAE3627748094A.jpg

A beautiful male ORCHARD ORIOLE:
4E866A412219AC681797AF4C2A514F8D.jpg

Subtly beautiful female ORCHARD ORIOLE:
4E86E8722219AC6817A67D3D5764BCB5.jpg

"Hey, you found my nest hole!"
4E87DC8C2219AC68172D3FDE566F9C98.jpg

Yes, I did see a nesting hole of endangered RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, which was easily visible from one of the trails at Fort Sheridan. Then, I managed to capture this extremely lucky shot of two adult RH Woodpeckers near the nest hole:
4E884A2A2219AC68172808D18BFA3156.jpg

It was a superb outing on a fine summer morning. Bird-of-the-day to the BOBOLINK and runners-up to the cooperative, beautiful nesting pair of RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS. The full bird list for today is attached below my signature.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 672 Species (1 life bird today: Bobolink)

53 species:

Canada Goose X
Double-crested Cormorant 60
Great Blue Heron 1
Cooper's Hawk 1 being chased by blackbirds
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 10
Rock (Feral) Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 4
CUCKOO SP. 1 too short and too distant of a look to determine the species
Chimney Swift 1
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 2 Pair utilizing a tree cavity
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 4
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 2
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo X
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 2
PURLE MARTIN 1
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Bank Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 1
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 2
Cedar Waxwing 9
Common Yellowthroat 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 40
Song Sparrow 10
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 2
BOBOLINK 7 life bird!
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark 2
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
ORCHARD ORIOLE 4
Baltimore Oriole 3
House Sparrow 2
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 10
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1

Posted by skwclar 14:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

An Afternoon at the Morton Arboretum

all seasons in one day 90 °F

This afternoon I birded the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL while my dad played his concert there. I saw many amazing birds, 56 species in all, including the ones pictured below:

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
F7521FBB2219AC6817F04D0A9CE478ED.jpg

TREE SWALLOW:
F75297A72219AC681738D04E02F355EB.jpg

Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, the only warbler of the day:
F7530E942219AC6817EAFF8AFA69B762.jpg

At one point while I was walking through a certain field, I found seven HENSLOW'S SPARROWS--a state endangered and federally threatened species. They are beautiful, rare birds, so it was amazing to get this shot of one especially obliging individual:
F7538AC52219AC6817FA1A03E449B9C9.jpg

The Morton Arboretum has a very successful bluebird nest box program, and this year more than ever, EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, a declining species in this area of Illinois, are abundant at the arboretum. I took this photo of a male today:
F75408232219AC68175CB3109277D83D.jpg

At one point I found a strange KILLDEER family that had chosen to nest, of all places, in a narrow strip of vegetation between a busy parking lot and a large building. And keep in mind that this is a shorebird!
F75484EF2219AC681784E8F1E7E4B5B7.jpg

The second-best bird of the day was this male ORCHARD ORIOLE, a species that I haven't seen for two years:
F754FF9F2219AC68178A7528613A5614.jpg

Male AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
F7556EC02219AC68176E293BCD807B98.jpg

Male GRAY CATBIRD:
F755E17B2219AC68170BA6A4F942A103.jpg

Male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:
F756576C2219AC6817A7CB2AB51A938C.jpg

Male INDIGO BUNTING:
F756C1CD2219AC6817DEC37F5516BAC0.jpg

It was a fantastic outing, and it has to have been the best birding I have done since I saw the rare Curve-billed Thrasher last Sunday. The full bird list for today is included below my signature.

Good birding!
Henry

56 species:

Mallard 3
Canada Goose 1
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Killdeer 5
Ring-billed Gull 2
Rock Dove X
Mourning Dove 2
Chimney Swift X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 6
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
PILEATED WOODPECKER 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
Eastern Wood-pewee 5
Great Crested Flycatcher 3
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO 1
Warbling Vireo 3
Red-eyed Vireo 3
Blue Jay 5
Tree Swallow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee 5
TUFTED TITMOUSE 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 6
House Wren 2
Eastern Bluebird 20
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 4
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 20
Common Yellowthroat 20
Eastern Towhee 3
Chipping Sparrow 3
Field Sparrow 4
VESPER SPARROW X
HENSLOW'S SPARROW 7
Song Sparrow 3
SCARLET TANAGER 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4
Indigo Bunting 40 (so many of them at the arb!)
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Baltimore Oriole X
ORCHARD ORIOLE 3
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow X

Posted by skwclar 19:54 Archived in USA Comments (1)

AT&T Rookery

With Edward and Cristen Vincent

semi-overcast 80 °F

On Friday my friends Edward and Cristen Vincent drove me to a rookery of cormorants, egrets, and herons, out in Barrington, IL. It was very interesting with many DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, about fifteen GREAT EGRETS, two or three GREAT BLUE HERONS, and one GREEN HERON.
Here is a photo of the numerous cormorants in one of the trees in the rookery:
F6FD11A32219AC68173BF23C007F7CD5.jpg

Other birding around the rookery was nice, as well.

TREE SWALLOW:
F6E5E38D2219AC68171A556F3E9D860C.jpg

Male YELLOW WARBLER:
F6E66FFD2219AC68176CE731B0B180E9.jpg

EASTERN KINGBIRD:
F6E6E63E2219AC6817E414E1A9EBF1C6.jpg

We stopped at Thatcher Woods on the way home to feed the 27 CANADA GEESE nesting at the pond this year. Also present was a SCARLET TANAGER and this SPOTTED SANDPIPER:
F6E75D932219AC6817601DBE2AAA6A56.jpg

One weird thing was that a Red Bat at one point swooped down from the trees and started flying back and forth over the pond, occasionally sipping water, in broad daylight (it was 11am at the time!).

Our last stop was at the Cooper's Hawk nest in Oak Park, where we found one bird sitting on the nest.

It was a fun outing, and thanks again Edward and Cristen Vincent!

Good birding,
Henry

Posted by skwclar 19:42 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A Great Day of Birding

With Edward and Cristen Vincent!

all seasons in one day 62 °F

Today my friends Edward and Cristen graciously offered to take me into the downtown Chicago area to try to find two rare birds that have been reported recently: a Curve-billed Thrasher, a vagrant bird that is related to the mockingbirds that is normally in the desert southwest, and a Black-bellied Whistling Duck, a comical-looking tropical duck usually found in the marshes of Florida and Louisiana.

Our first stop was Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary to look for the Curve-billed Thrasher. We looked for a good forty five minutes and found nothing that would sit still for a good photo except for these NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS:
B3A2A6072219AC68170E8B630B6D0CF4.jpg

Then, literally as we were heading back to the car, the CURVE-BILLED THRASHER pops up at the top of a large shrub less than ten feet away from us, allowing for fantastic photo opportunities! Life bird #671!
B3A33BA72219AC68178A0E855F13F558.jpg

This beautiful male YELLOW WARBLER dropped by while we were admiring the thrasher:
B3A3B9DD2219AC68174AA6B231FE5B2E.jpg

Then, we headed to North Pond, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and South Pond in Lincoln Park to look for the Black-bellied Whistling Duck. We did not find it, although we had a few consolation prizes:

Red-eared Slider Turtle with a female HOODED MERGANSER:
B3A433192219AC6817462A7551125E64.jpg

GRAY CATBIRD:
B3A4A6FD2219AC68176B47A39B5175DE.jpg

Black-crowned Night Herons, an endangered bird in Illinois, nest above the wolf enclosure in the Lincoln Park Zoo. I managed to capture this image of two juveniles on their nest:
B3A51E712219AC6817C1490C7D679FB2.jpg

CLIFF SWALLOW on its nest:
B3A5A0392219AC68177953E09916D4E5.jpg

EASTERN KINGBIRD:
B3A610E42219AC68171106C6101BEC3A.jpg

A beautiful, endangered adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON:
B3A67A042219AC68175598FA8D3DFEA4.jpg

After a Subway sandwich pig out (thank you Edward and Cristen!), it was time to head home. Bird-of-the-day to the mega-rare CURVE-BILLED THRASHER, which was life bird #671 for me! Full lists for the outing are included below my signature.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 671 Species

Montrose Point:

Canada Goose X
Mallard 11
Killdeer 1
Spotted Sandpiper 5
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Caspian Tern 3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) X
Mourning Dove X
Chimney Swift X
Downy Woodpecker 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 15
Purple Martin 3
Tree Swallow 7
Bank Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 20
Cliff Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 1
Curve-billed Thrasher 1 Identifiable photos obtained. Same continuing individual.
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
American Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow X

Lincoln Park:

Graylag Goose (Domestic type) 1
Canada Goose X
Wood Duck 15
Mallard X
Mallard (Domestic type) 4
Hooded Merganser 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 20
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Caspian Tern 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) X
Mourning Dove X
Chimney Swift X
Downy Woodpecker X
Eastern Kingbird 1
American Crow 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Tree Swallow X
Bank Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Cliff Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

Posted by skwclar 13:03 Archived in USA Comments (1)

3rd GAR-Thatcher Woods Breeding Bird Survey

With the "Junior Naturalists Camp" and Jill Anderson

semi-overcast 90 °F

Hi all,

Today I completed the 3rd breeding bird survey for two local forest preserves: GAR and Thatcher Woods. I spent the first forty five minutes with a local camp for nature-loving 4th and 5th graders called the "Junior Naturalists" and led them around Thatcher Woods. They were surprisingly knowledgable about the natural world and some of them were likely candidates for being future birders. My best birds at Thatcher were SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, which was the rarest find of the day, and one calling GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER as well as one or two BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. Here is the picture of the Sharp-shinned Hawk:
BB4C71522219AC6817E0987321B8F423.jpg

Then, I birded with my friend Jill Anderson for about an hour at the neighboring GAR Woods and we found a few birds there. Then, after a quick stop back at Thatcher Woods, I biked home because it was, by that point, early afternoon, and the temperature was a stiflingly hot 90 degrees. It was a hot and rather unproductive morning although at least I got to meet some exuberant young nature lovers and see my good friend Jill Anderson.

Bird-of-the-day to the Sharp-shinned Hawk, which is actually a rare find this time of year.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 670 Species (no new life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 17:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 8) Page [1] 2 » Next