Wetland Birding in Lake County, Illinois

April 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

On April 10th I met Joel Greenberg at Wadsworth Wetlands for some morning birding. He had a survey to fill out, while I just had time to burn and the itch to see some first-of-the-year birds. Mission: accomplished for both of us.

The early morning air sung as waterfowl whistled through the marsh. Blue-winged Teals were out in fair numbers, with the occasional scattered Green-winged Teal. I love the bright, crisp colors of male waterfowl, and their desperate attempts to round-up less than enthusiastic females. The plants were feeling the drive to reproduce as well. Some spring flowers, namely Blood Root, were blooming, and many plants were starting to show green. Everything right now is twitterpated, and I myself fall in love with the scene around me every spring.

Joel demonstrating the incredible construction tactics employed by beavers

After the bird survey at Wadsworth we decided to hit up some more Lake County birding spots. A trip to a tucked away subdivision yielded my first Rusty Blackbird in the lower 48. Its call conjured up memories of nest searching in Alaska, when I was employed as a Rusty Blackbird field technician in Yukon Flats. It’s funny how a two note call and an electronic garble can open up a flood of memories. It was a happy moment. And I was glad to see at least one Rusty Blackbird on the migration route–it gave me faith that some of them can indeed find stopover sites in Illinois.

Joel pointed out a Beaver lodge that had overflowed onto the walking path. He showed me, through some tugging and pushing, that beavers build their dams by interweaving sticks and branches and packing in mud, making them very difficult to pull apart. Clever little engineers, aren’t they?

Just before we headed back to the car, I snapped a blurry picture of Painted Turtles basking on a log. There were piles of them, like mishappen flap jacks, strewn about the wetland.

Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) basking

The last birding spot was Lake Michigan, where I encountered a FOY Common Loon. It displayed beautiful breeding plumage, but only gave us furtive glances. We stood for a while, hunting it down in a bay area while it spent most of its time hunting underwater. Once Joel and I both got good looks, we decided to call it a day.

As usual, a lot of birding only makes me feel like birding a lot more. Fortunately this works out. In a few days I will be conducting a Crane Count in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Following that experience I will be visiting a Greater Prairie Chicken leking site in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I can’t wait.

Entry filed under: Birding, Herps, Wildflowers.

April 7th, 2010: Prairie Dropseed Counting Cranes and Booming Cocks

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