Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jackson Park Piping Plovers

I took a quick trip down to Springbrook Prairie today, where the harsh mid-afternoon sun and gusty winds did little to help me find any birds. But the trip was not all in vain, as it put me in a good position to act on a message I was about to receive. Scott, Andrew, and I had been texting for a little while when up came an off topic text from Scott - "PIPLs at 63rd st beach." Paul Clyne had just reported them on IBET. With nothing holding my attention at Springbrook, I checked out Google maps to see I was only 40 mins away from this downtown location and headed there immediately. These guys are usually one day wonders in my experience, and I couldn't guarantee another shot at them that would be this convenient.

I arrived at the beach after an easy drive into the city and began scoping the shoreline. First to the west - nothing. Then to the east - nothing. Then back to the west - nothing again. Hmm. Surely they weren't already gone, right? I started walking towards the dunes, then remembered that the last time I had seen a Piper on a beach, it actually spent most of its time away from the shoreline. So I set the scope up again to scan back to my west, and as I looked away from the water, I quickly came upon three light little fluff balls with orange bills and black collars hunkered down in the wind. Yes!

Piping Plovers
63rd St Beach, Cook Co, IL
April 27, 2014

Piping Plover is a rare but regular visitor in Illinois. It's not a bird you can necessarily count on, but it's one that I had really wanted for my year list. They're also on the endangered species list for North America, so I never take an encounter with them for granted. Getting to spend some time alone on the beach with these little specialties was an awesome experience, and getting to see a female in with the two males was a great treat too. The good birds keep coming!

ABA 2014: 233

Illinois 2014: 211

Cook, IL: 119 (also added Common Loon in the harbor)