Because five days later the cold subsided and gave way to something much, much worse: vertigo. The uncomfortable combo of dizziness and imbalance took me down hard for one week and had me woozy enough to prevent me from driving for another. It rendered me incapable of doing schoolwork during the busiest stretch of the semester, and pushed a host of work meetings back, so that by the time I was better, I had a single week to get all of it done. So, instead of the laid back finals week I had been anticipating, I got a week from hell that rounded out 26 straight days of not birding.
The only perk was that, by the end of the week, I was finally feeling back to normal. The last of my work was completed Friday night, so logically I was out birding Saturday morning. I decided not to go for the Sage Thrasher, but in hindsight I probably should have.
I had two target birds. The first was a cooperative Northern Saw-whet Owl that responded briefly to tape before dawn. This was ABA year bird #505 and Illinois year bird #309. It was my last Illinois bird for the year, as Andrew and I tried unsuccessfully for redpolls at the botanic gardens, a couple times. This is the most common bird that I missed this year, and I can wholeheartedly blame that on the vertigo. I would have found time to track them down in late November/early December, but I just wasn't able to.
Saturday wasn't all bad though. Between stints at the botanic gardens, Andrew and I popped up to Waukegan, which was pretty slow. Well, actually, the fact that I can say it was slow is an indication of just how amazing this year has been, because there was a Red-throated Loon out on the lake, and a Snowy Owl hanging out on the lighthouse.
Waukegan, Lake Co, IL
December 20, 2014
I feel like it's appropriate that the last bird I photographed in Illinois this year was a Snowy Owl, given that the winters beginning and ending the year were so great for them.
Jen and I took off on Sunday and now we're back in Washington for the rest of the year, where I'm tacking on a few more ABA year birds.
And with that, my Illinois year of birding has come to a close. It was an incredible run. I was hoping for 300, and wound up with 309. I'll summarize the year and break down the numbers in an upcoming post.