Rollins Savannah Forest Preserve - Gray's Lake
Its been a few years since I've visited Rollins Savannah and its my first visit at this time of the year. Today the prairie is aflame with the colors of the many wildflowers blooming across the preserve. This place is certainly a success story from its convergence from Illinois farmland back to a the prairie that once encompassed most of the state.
I arrived very early and quickly found that the American Goldfinches were everywhere, attracted to the seeds being produced by abundance of flowers. The grassland birds that breed here seem to have already departed for the south. Didn't see any bobolinks and just one Eastern Meadowlark. Also missed, again on the henslow's sparrows, I did see few Song and Swamp Sparrows. I did get to see a Northern Harrier as it patrolled the grass.
The wetlands areas had very few waterfowl species today. Just a Mallard and a hand-full of Blue-winged Teal. Had hoped for a sighting of mute swans, but recent reports state that the swans are not as numerous as I had experienced in the past. They may have already migrated to the southern end of the state or the DNR has been quietly reducing their numbers as they are considered to be an exotic, disruptive species.
Did have a nice surprise when I sighted a Marsh Wren in the company of a Virginia Rail. A very nice surprise.
Other species seen or heard today included Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a Green Heron, a Killdeer, a few , Cedar Waxwings, Starlings, a Tennessee Warbler and Red-winged Blackbirds.