Sunday, May 30, 2010

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls

This morning I checked on a burrowing owl nest site that I have been keeping an eye on.  They owl family lives in a pasture/ future industrial site along Domestic Street in south Lee County. Today was my first siting of the new babies. Three fluffy owlets of varying sizes were siting at the edge of the burrow with mom and dad watching from close by.

Yesterday, I also found a pair of burrowing owls in a pasture along state road 74 in Gladys County. I had passed up on getting some sleep, after getting off of work, at 7am, to look for three target birds. Florida Scrub Jay, Wild Turkey and Crested Caracara. I thought that this early hour I had a good shoot at all three in Gladys County. The open country along SR74, between US27 and CR731, which is eleven miles, did reward me with three Scrub Jays, two Caracara, seven Sandhill Cranes, many Black and Turkey Vultures, American Crows and Eastern Meadowlarks.  But no turkeys today. The caracaras and vultures were working two different road kills. One was a dead gray fox and the other was a smelly, five foot gator. And the burrowing owls were a pleasant surprise.

Tomorrow, I plan on heading out early for the Keys and other Dade County stops for several target birds.  Many are exotics like parrots amd mynah birds.  I am going try, for about the ninth time, for red-whiskered bulbul and spot-breasted oriole in Kendell.  Then to Marathon in the Keys for Rosetta Terns and Antillean Nighthawks. Will see what happens.

My List (22) - Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Burrowing Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Florida Scrub-Jay, American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Diamondback Terrapins - Sanibel Island

Ornate Diamondback Terrapins -
Sanibel Island
May 18th                                                                                     

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Nightheron
Katie and I headed over to Sanibel Island and Ding Darling WMA to look for mangrove cuckoos and any other interesting wildlife. First checked the location at the Sanibel Lighthouse for the screech owl, but the tree had been taken over by bees. No owl.
Birding at Ding Darling was very slow.  Had a variety but nothing terribly exciting. Around the 3 mile marker did faintly hear the mangrove cuckcoo, but it was too far hiden in the mangroves to be properly id'd. Did not hear or see any black-whiskered vireos on this visit either.
What was interesting were the two terrapins we found basking in the sun. I can not say that I had ever noticed the Ornate Diamondback Terrapins before. I understand that they are not terribly common these days. Another interesting reptile seen was a skink sited along the dike area. I have not seen a skink fore a very long time, and I believe this lizard was a Southeastern Five-lined Skink.

My List (23) - Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black Vulture, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Black-bellied Plover, Willet, Laughing Gull, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Fish Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Prairie Warbler, Northern Cardinal

Canada Geese - Illinois Road Trip day #4

Canada Geese - '
Illinois Road Trip day #4

Volo Bog Nature Center - Volo, Illinois

I am heading into the bog on the floating dock

Muskrat House

These muskrat houses make great platforms for nesting mute swans and canada geese
We wrapped up the birding part of our vacation with a two hour, three mile hike on the Tamarack Trail at Volo Bog, which is just a few miles from My folks place at Fish lake Beach.  Had to get this done early as we had a wedding to attend later, which was the true purpose of our trip to Illinois.  The weather was still on the cool side, but the threat of rain had passed. This was also my second visit to Volo Bog as I had been here last year. 
   The trail passes through woodland, marshes, old fields and prairie. Had hoped for another shot at a variety of migrants. Did had a good variety of birds, but no get numbers and no lifers. Lots of Canada Geese with goslings. They were using muskrat lodges for nest sites were a couple of Mute Swans. We saw several muskrat lodges, but no muskrats.  Understand that beavers also are at home here, but did not notice any either. Several Sandhill Cranes were on hand. We saw a pair of wood ducks and several Blue-winged Teal. A Sora was heard, but not seen. Found several Yellow Warblers, a sole Palm Warbler, a couple of Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a single Northern Waterthrush, and several Common Yellowthroats. Several Song and Field Sparrows were  found around the shrubby areas. Spooked a Coopers Hawk. Only found a few American Goldfinches and no chickadees. Found a beautiful, male Baltimore Oriole, I suppose they are now called Northern Orioles. Had also found a female Baltimore Oriole earlier.

MY 2010 List (29) - Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Wood Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Chimney Swift, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole
My 2090 List (29) - Mute Swan, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, American Goldfinch

My total count from both visits are 42 species

Katie and I flew home on the 17th, but I would like another stab next spring at some of these sites.  A place we did not get this year, but had success on last years visit was Starve Rock State Park at Utica, Illinois., and nearby Matthiessen State Park.

My 2009 List at Starve Rock State Park - (17) Canada Goose, American White Pelican (found on the Illinois River), Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, White-eyed Vireo, Bank Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole

My 2009 List at Matthiessen State Park - (11) Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting

Trail through Illinois Canyon at Starved Rock were bank swallows were found on these cliffs.
Stairs are frequent on the trails at both state parks

Leaving Chicago

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warbling Vireo - Illinois Road Trip day#3

Warbling Vireo -
Illinois Road Trip day#3
May 14th

Fish lake Beach - Volo, Illinois
   On our day three, we started from my folks place at Volo, Illinois in Lake County. This is their summer place at a resort setting called Fish lake Beach. Not fancy but very comfortable.  A great, quite getaway from the city. Our stay provided birding opportunities starting with the many bird feeders in the yard to the water fowl on the lake. Mute Swans have raised families on the lake, but currently are not too often seen these days. Last year I was lucky to site a pair of fly-overs of Black Terns and a pair of Foster's Tern.  This year I did not see either of these during our stay, but a Caspian Tern was busy one morning as was an unexpected Spotted sandpiper. I tried to check the lake as often I as could the three days we stayed here.  The huge oaks and hickories on the property could be birdy at times as well. I was able to site White-breasted Nuthatch, many American Robins, Downy Woodpeckers, a Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch and a LIFER in a a WARBLING VIREO. The Warbling Vireo is supposed to be rather common at most of the venues we birded, but so far this is the first and only one so far.

My List (20)- Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Crane, Spotted Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Boat-tailed Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Ryerson Nature Center - Riverwood, Illinois
   Day three was scheduled to bird my most anticipated location on the trip.  It originally was scheduled to the prior day, but the whole birding schedule was washed out due to some serious weather, and so day three was a day late. The weather and flooding at Ryerson's was probably the cause for a very weak experience. Ryerson's in May is a migrant magnet.  Not unusual to get 12 to 20 warblers, four thrushes, plus flycatchers, vireos, sparrows, swallow, orioles, chickadees, and many more. The potential for several lifers was quite possible. I was hopeful to find olive-sided flycatchers, plus Golden-Winged, Blue-Winged, Connecticut, Morning and Wilson's Warblers.  All had been reported before and after our visit.  On our visit this morning we were very unlucky.  The local birders we encountered were also coming up short of birds. Many were complaining that the April warm up, they had, caused the trees to leaf out early, making birding warblers in the canopy much harder. One guy was very helpful with trying to put me onto a Golden-winged Warbler that we could both hear, but never found. I suppose that I could count it as a lifer, but I feel you really need to see the bird the first time. My only exception are with rails. After about two we left for Rollins Savanna.

My List (11) - Mallard, Chimney Swift, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Brown-headed Cowbird

Rollins Savanna - Grayslake, Illinois

   Got to Rollins about noon. Flooding was a problem here too. We did find several grassland species like Bobolinks, Song Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks.  One of my targets here was a Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  I was successful on my visit last year. I dipped on it this year.  The location I expected to find it was flooded.  Habitat was still available but I just did not see one today. Also hoped for Black Terns and a greater variety of water fowl.  Did not see any terns at all and the water fowl was limited to Blue-Winged Teal, Mallards and Canada Geese. We did find nine Sandhill Cranes at the lake.  If I had a scope with me perhaps I could have id'ed more at this location

Expected to find Yellow-Headed Blackbirds at this location

My List (22) - Canada Goose, Mallard, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Red-tailed Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Chimney Swift, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Robin, Yellow Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, American Goldfinch

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Knot - Little Estero Lagoon

Red Knot -
Little Estero Lagoon - Ft Myers Beach
May 24th

Little Estero Lagoon
  Got here by 8 o'clock am in a effort to finish up before it gets too hot. Temperature highs today are expected to be around 92 and sunny. Also arrived on a high tide. Had hoped to find my foy gray kingbird today, but this was my only miss on target birds today. Immediately had Magnificent Frigatebirds and a Bald Eagle perched high up on the facade of a multi-storied condo building. Also quickly found newly hatched Wilson's Plovers, that a photographer informed were hatched just last Friday, the 21st. Was lucky to also find a Snowy Plover.  Would end up locating a total of three snowies and getting my first ever photos. A lone Red Knot worked the shoreline and also gave me great looks. Had flybys of American Oystercatchers and Black Skimmers.  A couple of White Morphed Reddish Egrets were on hand plus about three other red Reddish Egrets. were present. A pair of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers could be seen bringing food to their nest hole in a dead palm. A lone, roped off, sea turtle nest was seen, as were a dolphin and a marsh hare.
   The big event on the beach were the couple of hundred, (just an estimate) Least Terns nesting on the beach. Wildlife management ropes off large areas of the beach to protect the nesting Wilson's Plover, Snowy Plover and Least Terns from having the nest sites trampled and to reduce the stress level on these birds.    
     Well the terns are very aggressive to any potential danger to there nests and chicks.  I was able to watch as one tern drove off a ghost crab.  These crabs are very hazardous to these nesting birds are they prey on hatchings and eggs. It has been reported that they had decimated the breeding efforts for snowy plovers at other nesting sites.
   The terns' aggression was not limited to crabs, but also too the many people using the beach. They also did not recognize the limitation of the roped off areas and had actually expanded beyond.  It seemed to me that they claimed all of the beach up to the water line. When you find yourself too close to a nest they would defend themselves with dive bombing attaches, including trying to defecate on you, coming very close to your head. It is hard not to flinch.  But what you need to do is exit the area as quickly as you can, because in-part this stress is very hard on the birds.
   The three species of birds nesting here are considered threatened to one degree or another and a great effort is being made to protect them. One tragedy last year involved a vehicle being driven onto the beach, killing a nesting tern and destroying several other nests.  Don't know if anyone was ever arrested.  But actions such as this is one reason why these birds are threatened.

Wilson's Plover are actively nesting on Ft Myers Beach

Wilson's Plover hatchling. Several were seen today. Most only a few days old.

Snowy Plover

Red Knot 

Least Terns

My List (36) - Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Laughing Gull, Least Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Fish Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Coyotes - Illinois Road Trip day #2

Coyotes -
Illinois Road Trip day #2

Our plans for day two involved Katie going to Brookfield Zoo with the family and my birding Midewan. Both plans were threatened by chilly, rainy weather, yet I took off at day break for my drive over to Midewan regardless of conditions and the zoo trip was also went on as planned.

Midewan National Tallgrass Prairie- Wilmington, Illinois
Got to Midewan, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service, around 8am.  I was anxious to return here for another attempt at finding my target bird.  The Upland Plover. This plover is on Illinois's endangered species list and it can be found that Midewan. The renovation of this former ammunition production site, known as the Joliet Armory site into a tallgrass prairie has been a positive influence on this species, which actually needs 100 acres short grass per pair of plovers. The short grass environment is provided by a herd of cattle. I understand that bison may be used in the future.
   I had been here last year and had a very good birding day, even though I struck out on the plover and Henslow's Sparrow, another uncommon species. That visit had much better weather and was very birdy. Hit on several warblers and thrushes.  Got lifers than with bobolink and dickcissels.
   Today I repeated my hikes on the Iron Bridge Trail and The Prairie Creek Trail. The weather remained chilly and some light rain did occur.  But not enough to slow me down.

THE IRON BRIDGE TRAIL -  The oak grove located prior to the Iron Bridge Trail head parking lot was a great stop.  I immediately got my second ever Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, plus starlings, flickers, sparrows etc. The budding Osage orange trees at the trail head likewise was very birdy  with Indigo Buntings, Cedar Waxwings, American Goldfinches and White-Crowned Sparrows.  As I entered the prairie area I had lots of red-winged blackbirds, dickcissels, bobolinks, Eastern Kingbirds, Brown Thrashers, Song Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Yellow Warblers and even seven coyotes. 
   As I watched the coyotes move across the grass I could see several bobolinks flush.  They kept their distance when they noticed me. My sister tells me that coyotes are a problem in her neighborhood, were pets have been attached. A couple of years ago we also has a problem in my neighborhood. Several small dogs had been grabbed by a coyote while the dogs were being walked, on lease, in the evening in the Three Oaks area. Trappers did eliminate the culprits, but they are still around in small numbers. But at Midewan to see several coyotes at work kind of made up for dipping again on the upland plover.
WHAT IS MIDEWAN ? - Please check-out the this link to learn more about Midewan

Boblink along the Iron Bridge Trail

White-Crowned Sparrow hiding in the brush along the Iron Bridge Trail

Song Sparrow along the Iron Bridge Trail

Iron Bridge Trail
PRAIRIE CREEK TRAIL - Next I drove over to the other end of the property to walk the Prairie Creek Trail which is much different than Iron Bridge.  It is wetter and forested. Had success last year with warblers, flycatchers and thrushes.  Not so much this time. Did get a Yellow-throated Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeck, Indigo Buntings, Goldfinches, Scarlet Tanger, Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warbler ( most commonly sited warbler on my trip),and beautiful Mytle (yellow-rumped) Warblers.
   Headed back from here.  was a bit disappointed on my misses, but I did get some good birds.
Prairie Creek Trail

Prairie Creek Trail

My 2009 List (41) - Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, Veery, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Dickcissel, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch
My 2010 List for the Iron Bridge Trail (31) - Canada Goose, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Flicker, Eastern Kingbird, American Crow, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Dickcissel, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch
My 2010 List for the Prairie Creek Trail (19) - Great Egret, Green Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Jay, House Wren, American Robin, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole

McGinnis Slough - Orland Park


I returned to McGinnis Slough, briefly on my way to Midewan hoping for a better look at the swans and was interested in finding a virginia rail, which would have been a lifer bird, as well as an umber of other possible migrants.  Did find the same pair of swans but much closer.
MY List -  Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Chimney Swift, Eastern Phoebe, Barn Swallow

Some of Katie's pictures from the zoo

Free-roving Peafowl

Amur Tiger



Timber Wolf



Green-Winged Macaws


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trumpeter Swan Illinois Road Trip - day #1

Trumpeter Swan
Illinois Road Trip - Day #1
May 11th

My daughter Katie and I headed up to the Chicago area for about a week for the wedding of my brother Jim's eldest son. Flew into Midway on Tuesday morning and was birding by 10:30am. Hit three sites around south Cook County before checking in at my sister Laura's home in nearby Will County, and then off to my first game at Wrigley Field in thirty years.

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center- Willow Springs, Illinois
   Arrived about 1030am directly from the airport to bird the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. The weather was actually in the 50's and the trail was muddy. Katie suffered through the indignety of soiling her boots and jeans on the muddy trail.  On my first visit a year ago, in May, the weather was better and the woods were birdier. Missed today, from last year's list was a ruby-throuthed hummingbird, wood thrush, tennessee warbler, broadwing hawk and rose-breasted grosbeck.  But I did add a lifer today with a LINCOLN SPARROW.  Also had had several Myrtle Warblers (yellow-rumped warbler), a Palm Warbler, a Red-headed Woodpecker and a Great Egret
My May 2009 List (29) - Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-headed Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow
My May 2010 List (15) - Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cooper's Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-eyed Vireo, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, American Goldfinch

McGinnis Slough - Orland Park

Canada Geese greeted us as we arrived at McGinnis Slough

Next stop was McGinnis Slough located in Orland Park off LaGrange Road. A pair of Trumpeter Swans had raised a family here last year and reports were that they were still present.
The following was posted on the IBET message board on May 8th by -{ After Palos we went to McGinnis Slough in Orland Pk. There were 4-5 BLACK TERNS, 4 SORAS, 1VIRGINIA RAIL seen closer than we have both ever seen. MUTE and TRUMPETER SWANS and 2 late REDHEAD DUCKS were noted. 25 BLUE WINGED TEAL were seen in numerous locations.} Authored by Wes Serafin.
So based on this and other postings on McGinnis Slough I was intriqued and it was close to my sister's home. Had to check it out.  I mostly wanted to find a trumpeter swan, which would complete sightinging all three swan species. The potiental of locating black terns or a virginia rail would was also be a plus.
The stop here was brief.  The weather was no better than at te Little Red Schoolhouse.  A pair of Canada Geese with a gossling greeted us at the parking lot. These geese are everywere and seem to be reguarded as pests. Simarly to how we feel about muscovy ducks here in Florida.
A few Mallards and other Canada Geese could be seen from here. Barn and Tree Swallows were swarming the slough and Red-Winged Blackbirds are everywere.  To locate the swans I had to move over to a nearby lookout point were a small flock of Chimney Swifts were very busy. A Sora was heard several times within the cattails. A pair of swans were spotted far off in the slough. One was oviously a Mute Swan and the other was the Trumpeter Swan. LIFER.  Second of the day

View of McGinnis Slough


My List (11) - Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Mallard, Sora, Chimney Swift, Blue Jay, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird
Orland Grassland - Orland Park
We still had a little time, so we made a third stop.  Further south on LaGrange Road was Orland Grasslands. Again very muddy.  Had to trek a bit to find the birds. But they were located about the flooded sections.  came up with a lone Canada Goose, some Mallards and Blue-Winged Teal.  A Pectral Sandpiper and a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs were spooted So was a lone Pied-Billed Grebe. Lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Sparrows, including Song, Savanna, Field and a Chipping.  Southwest Florida is not a great sparrow mecca, so referance the guide book several times to get I right. Also had lots of Brownheaded Cowbirds, several gulls, Barn Swallows and Chimney Swifts. Added an American Kestrel as well.
By this time we had to quit and head over to my Sister's house. From here we would be heading into the city for the Cubs game. Some other interesting birds we missed, but were being reported at Orland Grasslands were a couple of wilson's phalaropes and several american pipts.  Would like to return someday.
My List (12) - Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, American Kestrel, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Field Sparrow, Savanna Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird

  My brother Jim had arranged for some great seats a Wrigley Field, compliments from his employer, for our first night in Illinois. We had a great time even with the icy conditions that night. We met Jim at Wrigley, while Laura drove Katie and I along Lake Shore Drive to the game.  It was great sightseeing my old environment. Was able to id Caspian Terns, Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls along the harbor and beach areas.
Soldier Field on the Lake Front

Wrigley Field prior to game time

Not exactly baseball weather - my sister Laura and daughter Katie keeping warm. We had a great time anyway.  Thanks Jim for the tickets.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dunlins - Bunche Beach

Black-Bellied Plover

One legged Dunlins

Ruddy Turnstone
Bunche Beach
May 8, 2010
 Ventured over to Bunche Beach this morning to see what's going on.  Arrived early on a rising tide and found some good numbers but not a great variety. Had a huge flock of Black Skimmers resting on the shrinking flats as the tide was rising.  Mingled in with them were a hand full of Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls. A couple of Sandwich Terns could be seen as well. Spread out on the mud flats were Semipalmated Plovers, Black-Bellied Plovers, Dunlins, Sanderlings and a couple of Ruddy Turnstones.  Prairie Warblers could be heard singing in the brush. A young Bald Eagle and Red-Shouldered Hawk were present, along with soaring Ospreys. A sole Reddish Egret and three Great Blue Herons were working the shallows and a flotilla of Brown Pelicans were floating off-shore. A sole Barn Swallow was seen.
  Missing were any willets, dowitchers, piping plovers, wilson's plovers or godwits.
  Also missing was any evidence of oil reaching our shore.  So far we are safe, but for how long?