Thursday, June 26, 2014

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER and King Rail!

Before recapping the Florida trip, I want to wrap up the last of my June birding in Illinois. Yesterday morning, for the first time since our record-setting Big Day with Scott in early May, Andrew and I had the chance to go birding together. The morning was foggy and damp, and we both admitted that if we hadn't been meeting the other, we may not have gone out. It turned out that an early wakeup was indeed a fantastic choice on this day.

We walked around the dreary wetland, entirely socked in by fog - a surprisingly disorienting feeling, especially when you can no longer see the parking lot or treeline that surround the patch you're standing in. We wandered for a while, coming across this White-tailed buck and a very noisy and curious Marsh Wren.

White-tailed Deer
June 25, 2014



Marsh Wren
June 25, 2014

Using Google Maps as a quasi GPS, we eventually found the little patch we were looking for, and in no time we had a pair of King Rails calling! This was a lifer for Andrew, and a much desired state bird for me - also #452 for my ABA year list! We waited and waited, trying to get a look at the birds that we calling off and on from mere yards away. Not wanting to leave this as a heard only bird, we stuck it out for quite a while. Eventually, as we were checking an area of reeds across from us, Andrew spotted this bird walking right in front of us! It gave us outstanding views in the open as it swam/scampered to the other side of the marsh, where it called - the other bird responded from right next to us and we were able to see it briefly as it scooted along the edge of the cattails. We couldn't believe that after all their time hiding away that they showed so well for us! We had several inches of water in our boots to empty out by the end of the whole thing, but it was well worth it.

King Rail
June 25, 2014

Afterwards, I headed to Montrose. For the second time this summer, a really rare bird showed up in Illinois the very day that I landed in a different state. The first time, the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks hung around for me. This time, the second state record of a Curve-billed Thrasher stayed! From people's reports, it sounded like it could be a tough bird to find, so I gave myself plenty of time to look for it. I checked to the north of the hedge and initially found nothing, but after a couple minutes of searching, I walked around a little bend in the trail and up popped this rarity, glowing eye and all. An outstanding state bird that thankfully many have been able to see. There's some question as to its health; hopefully it will be able to make it back to its home in the southwest before too long.


Curve-billed Thrasher
Montrose, Cook Co, IL
June 26, 2014

The rest of Montrose was its standard, quiet June self. I did appreciate this Spotted Sandpiper courageously getting between me and its babies though.

Spotted Sandpiper
Montrose, Cook Co, IL
June 26, 2014

And this group of young Mallards huddled up on the back of a Jet Ski was a comical site.

Mallards
Montrose, Cook Co, IL
June 26, 2014


And with that, I'm rounding out June with 293 species for Illinois, and I've crept my way up to 4,498 county ticks. My high end goal for the end of June was 285, and I'm now at a point where I can hit 300 without depending on another rarity, which is a great feeling to have less than half way through the year. It also makes me feel better about being out of the state for the next 3 weeks too as I go back home to beautiful Washington State!

You can see my list and the gaps I still have here.