Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Finding Joy in Quick Outings

While the day on the lakefront this last weekend was outstanding, it unfortunately is not the norm for me to get to devote an entire day to birding. A couple times per week I try to fit a few hours in here and there amidst the hustle and bustle of a given day. If you're a birder with any combination of a family, job, or life in general, this is probably the case for you too. While this rarely seems like enough time to do all the birding I'd like to, I have learned to find joy in quick outings, and have been pleasantly surprised at what all I can find in a short span. And, the way I see it, any extra check of a local patch is never truly in vain.

A quick outing from a couple weeks ago illustrates this point quite well. I still have a few odds and ends to pick up for my home county (DuPage) for this year - the easiest of which are the local wintering geese species. Fermi Lab and the Pella ponds - only 15 minutes from here - are excellent locations in the county for finding these geese. With this in mind, I made my way that direction with the hopes of adding a county tick or two for the year.

Fermi didn't produce any non-Canada Geese, which was a little disappointing. However, the stop here was still a great success, as this juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk appeared out of nowhere - not just a county year bird (#215), but a county lifer (#223)! I have spent minimal time with Red-shoulders, so I was thrilled to get to study this bird at close range through the scope for a few minutes.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Fermi Lab, DuPage Co, IL
November 21, 2013

Quite content with this unexpected addition, I continued on to Pella as rain began to lazily pelt my windshield. After being a reliable location all Spring, Pella has been a consistent disappointment to me throughout the Fall; but that all changed upon my arrival this day. A large flock of geese foraging in a field drew my attention, and as I got the binocs on them I immediately saw a few white faces sticking out of the standard Canada crowd - a flock of 34 Greater White-fronts! DuPage #216 this year, and my second in a matter of minutes. Such handsome birds they are:

Greater White-fronted Geese,
Pella Ponds, DuPage Co, IL
November 21, 2013 

I wasn't gone for more than three hours, yet it was a wonderfully productive birding trip. Consistently birding the same spots over long periods of time truly does pay off in the long run. Get out there and bird those local patches!