A Travellerspoint blog

Jackson Park

Chicago, IL

semi-overcast 79 °F

Today while my sister was at an event, I birded the Wooded Island of Jackson Park in search of migrants. Despite it getting late in the season, I was most certainly not disappointed! The flycatchers, in particular, put on quite a show.

CASPIAN TERN:
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Female BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
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EASTERN KINGBIRD, my first flycatcher species of the day:
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One of my favorite birds today was this OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER which allowed for great photo ops multiple times. A very cool species to see here out east in migration (I see them every year on their breeding grounds out west in Idaho).
large_D7693E3A-5F66-4650-8D4E-3E69AEAA8F78.jpeglarge_25FEB5D9-4A3F-4618-8FC1-8891BDCB929E.jpeglarge_EFBD931F-C909-45B5-948E-4ED3FCA0FA37.jpeglarge_15511C3B-1053-435E-AAF6-BC06539AD619.jpeglarge_66590395-2FE9-4202-B4E7-386BB983C5E5.jpeglarge_75A30D8A-FE67-4806-8E70-8E002FF7AE3E.jpeglarge_542BF769-1405-4E89-A78A-CE1142870F10.jpeglarge_DFB6C8C8-F9DE-4A7E-8F25-5EC9639986AD.jpeglarge_02DA9150-A61E-4552-B727-245A595AE303.jpeglarge_7FB2BC30-C7D7-4DA6-B023-F12961FD4431.jpeglarge_9E2286BE-789A-4620-A9C5-620A51F28790.jpeglarge_C0509E7C-47E2-4750-BCBE-06BE73BF253F.jpeglarge_9560DEE9-DC13-461F-9CBA-F0AFA29824F7.jpeg

Male BALTIMORE ORIOLES:
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WILSON’S WARBLERS proved abundant in the park today, which was so nice to see:
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Male INDIGO BUNTING:
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CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS:
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My favorite warbler species of the day was this female MOURNING WARBLER, a bird which can be reasonably common at the right place and time, but is very challenging to observe due to their affinity for skulking in bushes:
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Male YELLOW WARBLER, a common breeder in the park:
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Traill’s Flycatchers, birds that are either ALDER or WILLOW FLYCATCHERS, but can basically only be identified by song. I heard both of these species in the park today but was unable to track the songs to any of the individual birds:
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LEAST FLYCATCHERS:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES:
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GREAT BLUE HERON with MALLARDS in the background:
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Detail of the heron’s face:
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Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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Another uncommon flycatcher, a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, was a great treat to see!
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
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GRAY CATBIRD:
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Male WOOD DUCK:
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MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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‘Twas a great afternoon of birding — so fun! Bird-of-the-day to the Olive-sided Flycatcher with runners-up to the Mourning Warbler & Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Stay tuned and good birding!

Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 17:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Calm after the storm?

Morseville, IN

sunny 77 °F

After the intense Big Day yesterday, Jonathan and I both woke up feeling very groggy in the late morning today. After breakfast, though, we were ready for some very low-key birding in the woods outside the house in which we were staying.

I delighted in seeing this male YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, apparently a commonality down here in this part of the state:
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Female MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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We heard a pair of duetting BARRED OWLS but were unfortunately unable to call them in with my vocal imitation like I did with the one in the state park the other night.

A male SCARLET TANAGER appeared to have a territory right over the house, and we were blessed with multiple opportunities to document this stunner, my bird-of-the-day for today.
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Back to Chicago today. Good birding and stay tuned!
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:12 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Indiana Big Day

all seasons in one day 80 °F

After weeks of planning, yesterday my friend Jonathan and I birded all over the state of Indiana for about 22 hours! We left my house at 2:15am and proceeded to drive his car to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where we would start our birding day. The goal would be to criss-cross the state in hopes of gaining as many avian species as possible in one day.

Our first stop was Kemil Beach Road where Kim, Susie, and I had had Barred Owl & Whip-poor-will just last week. Sure enough, as soon as we stepped out of the car, our first bird of the day was the great nocturnal singer, the EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL.

Then, after hearing a few calling birds such as TREE SWALLOWS we walked to the “Barred Owl spot” and using my reinforced falsetto voice to imitate its calls, we were quickly able to lure out the majestic BARRED OWL:
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Unfortunately, Central Ave. Beach Road lacked the hoped-for screech owl, but we did hear a “peent”-ing AMERICAN WOODCOCK on the way out.

Next stop: Michigan City Beach for any early-morning shorebirds. One interesting species did materialize, a nice breeding-plumage BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER:
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Other than that, it was pretty quiet, but we were treated to some incredible views of sunrise & a double rainbow:
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Unfortunately, a rainbow meant rain, though — a soaking rain soon poured down upon us as we were searching for songbirds in the Indiana Dunes State Park. Photography was limited because of our fast pace of birding as well as the rain, and some unphotographed highlights from the State
Park area included a singing HENSLOW’S SPARROW near the Observation Tower, CERULEAN & BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS over the campground, & the PROTHONOTARY WARBLER at its usual spot near its nest box.

I was able to document a bit of the activity in one particular mixed flock, which included a TENNESSEE WARBLER:
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Male BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER:
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And a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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Sure enough, the female RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was once again sitting on her nest near one of the picnic shelters:
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A nice and welcome surprise there was also a male CANADA WARBLER:
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Next stop was Cowles Bog, where we quickly assimilated all of our target species including SORA & VIRGINIA RAIL and nesting SANDHILL CRANE.

Then, we found this COMMON GALLINULE at Grant St Marsh in Gary but unfortunately dipped on our target Yellow-headed Blackbird.
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Cline Ave Marsh, also in Gary, was a bust because we didn’t find the Great Horned Owl nest, but I think we did pick up some common birds there such as GREAT BLUE HERON, HOUSE WREN, & RED-EYED VIREO.

Along the longer drive down to Kankakee Sands in west-central Indiana, we were forced to take a detour off of Highway 41 at one point and boy were we glad we did! We found a LEAST SANDPIPER in a “fluddle” alongside a country road:
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BARN SWALLOW, common throughout the day:
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I stopped the car when this roosting COMMON NIGHTHAWK caught my eye.
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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Finally, we made it to Kankakee Sands a little bit ahead of schedule (thanks to sacrificing a planned stop earlier in the morning, Hammond Lakefront Bird Sanctuary). We stopped on top of a bridge that is known for swallow diversity and picked out this more uncommon CLIFF SWALLOW:
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As planned, we picked up LARK SPARROWS along Road 200 W — very cool!!!
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FIELD SPARROW:
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Another Field (left) with a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. Kankakee Sands delivered pretty well with grassland bird species yesterday.
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Unphotographed here were two uncommon game birds: NORTHERN BOBWHITE & RING-NECKED PHEASANT.

Next stop was the nearby Willow Slough. I spotted this male SCARLET TANAGER, our only one of the day, quite far out in a field:
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One WILD TURKEY crossed the road far ahead of us, completing the “gamebird slam:”
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This flycatcher confused us for a while. It looks quite yellowish, but in the end I have decided to call it a “Traill’s Flycatcher” and since it never made a noise: it is Traill’s since one must identify the two actual possible species, Willow vs Alder Flycatcher, by voice during migration.
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This nesting TRUMPETER SWAN was a wonderful surprise at Willow Slough!
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The longest drive of the day, nearly three hours in total, loomed ahead and we took it head-on, arriving at our next stop, Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area, by five in the evening. This spot is known for amazing numbers of shorebirds and other waterbirds, but it was almost completely dead with barely any birds, few and far between. We managed to eek out a few new species including SEMIPALMATED PLOVER:

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER:
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GREATER YELLOWLEGS:
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And PURPLE MARTIN:
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Goose Pong was disappointing. On the way to Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area, we stopped at a grain mill where Eurasian Collared-Doves are known to reside, but unfortunately struck out. Instead there were only pigeons and MOURNING DOVES such as this one:
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Cane Ridge turned out to be fairly productive so we spent the remainder of the daylight hours birding this preserve. We were absolutely delighted to see a male BLUE GROSBEAK alongside the road:
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As well as a male YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT:
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The main target here was a colony of nesting LEAST TERNS, one of the few places they reliably nest in the Midwest I think. After a little bit of waiting, we were treated to distant views of a few individuals — but hey I’ll take what I can get as these views were significantly better than my lifer views of this bird a few weeks ago at Jamaica Bay in NYC.
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Later, we watched from afar as a BARRED OWL hunted, flying down to the road at one point:
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INDIGO BUNTINGS such as this one were common throughout the day — though the picture is out of focus, I just loved its setting among the yellow flowers.
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Unfortunately, we missed the Chuck-will’s-widow down near Evansville, which would have been a life bird for the both of us. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though — we listened on so many of the country roads in the Lyneville Mine area where this bird has been somewhat consistently reported — but to no avail.

Our last target species of the evening was a Barn Owl which has a known nesting box along Disney Hill Road, in the same general area north of Evansville, IN. We tried the same tactic, and after a few tries, were surprised to hear a descending, hair-raising screech coming from across the field. There was only one thing it could be: one of the few BARN OWLS that are left in Indiana! Very, very awesome, despite unfortunately never managing to see the bird.

It was a wonderful Big Day. 126 species were seen by the two of us, and each of us had one “dirty bird” not seen by the other person: Wood Duck for me and Summer Tanager for him. Big, big thank-yous to: Ed & Margie Bontrager for lending us the car for the day & packing so well for the trip, my mom for packing my meals, Jonathan for being a great birding companion, and the Mervar family for hosting us the night after the big day.

Bird-of-the-day to the Barn Owl with runners-up to the Lark Sparrows, Trumpeter Swan, & Blue Grosbeak. An absolutely incredible day of birding — my second-highest day species count to date. The full list is included below. Stay tuned!!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

1. Canada Goose
2. Trumpeter Swan
3. Northern Shoveler
4. Mallard
5. Northern Bobwhite
6. Ring-necked Pheasant
7. Wild Turkey
8. Rock Pigeon
9. Mourning Dove
10. Common Nighthawk
11. Eastern Whip-poor-will
12. Chimney Swift
13. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
14. Virginia Rail
15. Sora
16. Common Gallinule
17. American Coot
18. Sandhill Crane
19. Black-bellied Plover
20. Semipalmated Plover
21. Killdeer
22. Least Sandpiper
23. Semipalmated Sandpiper
24. American Woodcock
25. Greater Yellowlegs
26. Ring-billed Gull
27. Herring Gull
28. Least Tern
29. Caspian Tern
30. Double-crested Cormorant
31. Great Blue Heron
32. Great Egret
33. Turkey Vulture
34. Cooper’s Hawk
35. Bald Eagle
36. Red-shouldered Hawk
37. Red-tailed Hawk
38. Barn Owl
39. Barred Owl
40. Red-headed Woodpecker
41. Red-bellied Woodpecker
42. Downy Woodpecker
43. Hairy Woodpecker
44. Northern Flicker
45. Pileated Woodpecker
46. American Kestrel
47. Great Crested Flycatcher
48. Eastern Kingbird
49. Eastern Wood-Pewee
50. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
51. Willow Flycatcher
52. Eastern Phoebe
53. Bell’s Vireo
54. Yellow-throated Vireo
55. Warbling Vireo
56. Red-eyed Vireo
57. Blue Jay
58. American Crow
59. Horned Lark
60. Purple Martin
61. Tree Swallow
62. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
63. Cliff Swallow
64. Barn Swallow
65. Carolina Chickadee
66. Black-capped Chickadee
67. Tufted Titmouse
68. White-breasted Nuthatch
69. House Wren
70. Sedge Wren
71. Marsh Wren
72. Carolina Wren
73. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
74. Eastern Bluebird
75. Veery
76. Swainson’s Thrush
77. Wood Thrush
78. American Robin
79. Gray Catbird
80. Brown Thrasher
81. Northern Mockingbird
82. European Starling
83. Cedar Waxwing
84. House Sparrow
85. House Finch
86. American Goldfinch
87. Eastern Towhee
88. Chipping Sparrow
89. Field Sparrow
90. Lark Sparrow
91. Grasshopper Sparrow
92. Henslow’s Sparrow
93. Song Sparrow
94. Swamp Sparrow
95. White-throated Sparrow
96. Yellow-breasted Chat
97. Eastern Meadowlark
98. Western Meadowlark
99. Orchard Oriole
100. Baltimore Oriole
101. Red-winged Blackbird
102. Brown-headed Cowbird
103. Common Grackle
104. Northern Waterthrush
105. Black-and-White Warbler
106. Prothonotary Warbler
107. Tennessee Warbler
108. Nashville Warbler
109. Common Yellowthroat
110. American Redstart
111. Cerulean Warbler
112. Northern Parula
113. Magnolia Warbler
114. Blackburnian Warbler
115. Yellow Warbler
116. Chestnut-sided Warbler
117. Blackpoll Warbler
118. Black-throated Green Warbler
119. Canada Warbler
120. Wilson’s Warbler
121. Scarlet Tanager
122. Northern Cardinal
123. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
124. Blue Grosbeak
125. Indigo Bunting
126. Dickcissel

Posted by skwclar 19:57 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Monday Morning Bird Walk

Oak Park, IL

overcast 52 °F

Today was possibly one of my FAVORITE Oak Park Bird Walks ever! We started off with a beautifully-cooperative singing male HOUSE WREN:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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Then, I heard the classic “Pip pip pip!” of the bird and soon I had spotted my first-ever OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER for Oak Park! Too cool, an uncommon & declining bird species!!!
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Another uncommon bird, a male CANADA WARBLER, was less cooperative:
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Male NASHVILLE WARBLER:
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Beautiful views of a VEERY:
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Female MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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Female INDIGO BUNTING:
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Female CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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Male WILSON’S WARBLER:
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
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Male MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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And two stunner male BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS ended an absolutely fantastic walk.
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Bird-of-the-day to the Olive-sided Flycatcher with runner-up to the Bay-breasted Warblers. Stay tuned — tomorrow I am waking up at 2am to do an Indiana Big Day all the way up and down the state with my good friend Jonathan Bontrager — so excited!!!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 15:42 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Indiana Day 4: Dunes Big Morning

IN, USA

all seasons in one day 80 °F

Today, counting by number of species alone, was my second-best day of birding in my entire life! Kim, Susie, and I participated in the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival’s “Dunes Big Morning” where a bunch of birders would hop into a bus for a morning and try to find the greatest number of birds as possible in northwest Indiana. It was EPIC!

We started off bright and early at 6am at the Michigan City, IN beach. Unfortunately, fisherman had already arrived and most likely scared any early-morning shorebirds from the beach, but there were a few interesting finds here: FORSTER’S TERN.
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And a far away, late, breeding-plumaged COMMON LOON:
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Next, we drove to the Heron Rookery Nature Sanctuary a little bit inland. Although the heron rookery is long gone, the bird activity, particularly with passerines, was very high. EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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RED-EYED VIREO:
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This WOOD THRUSH gave the group great looks:
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Fleeting glimpse at a CANADA WARBLER:
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LEAST FLYCATCHER:
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YELLOW-THROATED VIREO:
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A couple of uncommon MOURNING WARBLERS entertained us throughout the morning — always a treat to see, and tricky to photograph!
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Male CAPE MAY WARBLER was a nice surprise:
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Male SCARLET TANAGER:
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Male AMERICAN REDSTART — so many of these were seen this morning:
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OVENBIRD:
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Male INDIGO BUNTING, another common bird throughout the day:
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A beautiful male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER showed nicely for the group, definitely one of the highlights of the day:
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An immature Eastern Garter Snake crossed the path in front of us:
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Next, it was off to Reynolds Creek Gamebird Area in search of grassland birds and other species. As soon as we got off the bus, our group leader spotted a nice male BOBOLINK, a harbinger of grasslands:
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Male EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
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GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was a great grassland specialty and perched up so nicely for us:
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A NORTHERN HARRIER cruised over the field across the road from us:
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First-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE, I have seen more of these than fully-adult males this spring!
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GREEN HERON:
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At one retention pond, a SORA showed really nicely for the group — a definite highlight for everyone.
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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DICKCISSEL:
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Next stop was Cowles Bog, where apart from unphotographed MARSH WRENS & VIRGINIA RAILS, one of the nesting SANDHILL CRANES was a highlight:
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Then, it was off to the same place in Indiana Dunes State Park where Kim, Susie, and I had the PROTHONOTARY WARBLER yesterday! This time, we spotted the female bird and she was busy flying in and out of her nest box.
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Just a little ways down the road, a male CERULEAN WARBLER put on a beautiful show of singing and displaying right over us — WOW!!!
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EASTERN PHOEBE:
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The final highlight of the big morning was seeing a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK on her nest.
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Adding two birds seen when I arrived back to Kim’s house in the early afternoon, CAROLINA WREN & TUTED TITMOUSE, I finished with 112 species today — incredible for only a “big morning!”

Later today, I boarded the South Shore train to ride back to Chicago. The place where I picked this train up in Michigan City involved walking into the middle of the street to board — cool!
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Bird-of-the-day to the beautiful Cerulean Warbler with runners-up to the Mourning, Golden-winged, & Prothonotary Warblers & the Grasshopper Sparrow. A fantastic day with SO many birds from which to choose — the full list of 112 species, including a whopping 25 warbler species(!), is included below.

A HUGE thank you to Kim Habel for hosting me for this trip, and to Dennis & Susie for driving me there! Loved birding with you.

Stay tuned, because monday I am leading an Oak Park Bird Walk and tuesday I am going on a 24-hour birding jamboree called a “big day” with my friend Jonathan Bontrager: we will try to see the greatest number of species in the entire state of Indiana as possible in one day!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

1. Canada Goose
2. Wood Duck
3. Blue-winged Teal
4. Mallard
5. Rock Pigeon
6. Mourning Dove
7. Common Nighthawk
8. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
9. Virginia Rail
10. Sora
11. Sandhill Crane
12. Killdeer
13. Spotted Sandpiper
14. Ring-bilked Gull
15. Herring Gull
16. Caspian Tern
17. Forster’s Tern
18. Common Loon
19. Double-crested Cormorant
20. Great Blue Heron
21. Green Heron
22. Turkey Vulture
23. Red-shouldered Hawk
24. Red-tailed Hawk
25. Red-headed Woodpecker
26. Red-bellied Woodpecker
27. Downy Woodpecker
28. Hairy Woodpecker
29. Northern Flicker
30. Great Crested Flycatcher
31. Eastern Kingbird
32. Eastern Wood-Pewee
33. Acadian Flycatcher
34. Willow Flycatcher
35. Least Flycatcher
36. Eastern Phoebe
37. Yellow-throated Vireo
38. Warbling Vireo
39. Red-eyed Vireo
40. Blue Jay
41. American Crow
42. Horned Lark
43. Purple Martin
44. Tree Swallow
45. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
46. Bank Swallow
47. Barn Swallow
48. Black-capped Chickadee
49. Tufted Titmouse
50. Red-breasted Nuthatch
51. White-breasted Nuthatch
52. House Wren
53. Sedge Wren
54. Marsh Wren
55. Carolina Wren
56. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
57. Eastern Bluebird
58. Veery
59. Swainson’s Thrush
60. Wood Thrush
61. American Robin
62. Gray Carbird
63. European Starling
64. Cedar Waxwing
65. House Sparrow
66. House Finch
67. American Goldfinch
68. Eastern Towhee
69. Chipping Sparrow
70. Field Sparrow
71. Vesper Sparrow
72. Savannah Sparrow
73. Grasshopper Sparrow
74. Song Sparrow
75. Swamp Sparrow
76. Bobolink
77. Eastern Meadowlark
78. Orchard Oriole
79. Baltimore Oriole
80. Red-winged Blackbird
81. Brown-headed Cowbird
82. Common Grackle
83. Ovenbird 1
84. Louisiana Waterthrush 2
85. Northern Waterthrush 3
86. Golden-winged Warbler 4
87. Blue-winged Warbler 5
88. Black-and-White Warbler 6
89. Prothonotary Warbler 7
90. Tennessee Warbler 8
91. Nashville Warbler 9
92. Mourning Warbler 10
93. Common Yellowthroat 11
94. American Redstart 12
95. Cape May Warbler 13
96. Cerulean Warbler 14
97. Magnolia Warbler 15
98. Bay-breasted Warbler 16
99. Blackburnian Warbler 17
100. Yellow Warbler 18
101. Chestnut-sided Warbler 19
102. Blackpoll Warbler 20
103. Palm Warbler 21
104. Yellow-rumped Warbler 22
105. Black-throated Green Warbler 23
106. Canada Warbler 24
107. Wilson’s Warbler 25
108. Scarlet Tanager
109. Northern Cardinal
110. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
111. Indigo Bunting
112. Dickcissel

Posted by skwclar 19:52 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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