Thursday, February 13, 2014

So Close...

Yesterday was another brief though productive outing between meetings. I needed to work on my abysmal DuPage year list, and had a couple year bird targets. I began by missing the Wood Duck that has been hanging out along an opening on the DuPage River in Lisle recently. I then hopped over to Springbrook Prairie, which was eerily birdless at first. I walked around for about 15 minutes and neither heard nor saw a single bird, until I spotted this Rough-leg sitting way off in the distance. I hadn't seen one in the state until late last year, and now I'm batting them away like flies - a nice problem to have with such a striking raptor. I'm adding this one to my growing collection of crappy Rough-leg shots.

Rough-legged Hawk
Springbrook Prairie, DuPage Co, IL
February 12, 2014

I wandered around the perimeter of Springbrook and happened upon some feeders - a nice discovery. I watched for a while, picking through the American Tree Sparrows, which were joined by juncos, more tree sparrows, House Sparrows, more tree sparrows, Mourning Doves, and more tree sparrows. I was thinking there would be more diversity, but it was nice to see such a large gathering of passerines in the winter. As I was about to take off, I spotted a couple birds hunkered down in some trees back to my left. Tree sparrow, tree sparrow, tree sparrow... Wait, there's something different. The bird was partially blocked by branches, but as I changed my viewing angle, the pieces began falling into place. Clean breast, rusty lateral crown stripes with a beige medial crown stripe in between, and overall size and structure meant this was a White-crowned Sparrow. They winter in small numbers here, so this was a nice bird to go ahead and nail down. And, it was number 98 for the year! Again, a pathetic photo of this plump little fellow:

White-crowned Sparrow
Springbrook Prairie, DuPage Co, IL
February 12, 2014

Some of the only open and accessible water in DuPage right now is at Blackwell Forest Preserve, so I decided to stop by there on the way back home. The waterfowl diversity left much to be desired as it was dominated by Canada Geese, and just a few Common Mergansers. But that didn't bother me, because the first birds I got the scope on were a flock of five Green-winged Teal. Another nice winter bird, and number 99 for the year!

Green-winged Teal
Blackwell Forest Preserve, DuPage Co, IL
February 12, 2014

And with that quick trip, I am now sitting tight just a bird away from triple digits. I was hoping to get there before the frolic on Saturday, and now it looks like a possibility. Here are the 99 I've seen so far; what will number 100 be? I'm going on a bit of an adventure tomorrow to a couple new locations out west of here, so it could be a bust and there's a very real chance that I won't add anything new for the year. But, it's a trip I've wanted to make for a while now, and if nothing else, some nice county ticks await.

ABA: 129

Illinois: 99

DuPage, IL: 43