July 7, 2010

Illinois Beach State Park North

In an effort to bolster my year list for Illinois, I went out to Illinois Beach State Park North.  As usual, I set my alarm for 4:30 AM, so I could get there around sunrise.  I awoke to the sun hitting my face, my phone across the room and the clock reading 7:00AM.


The main reason I was bummed was because the temp today was in the high 80's with humidity near the same as the temp! 

 IBSP is one of the most unqique biospheres in N. Illinois.  It's dry habitat with scattered Black Oak on sandy ground has brought up a rare breeder for the second year in a row: Blue Grosbeak.  Though I could drive a few hours south and pick one up, there is something about seeing this bird on good habitat outside of it's normal range.  Also, this park has beautiful wild flowers.

Anyone know the ID on this flower?  Wild Rose?

The morning was sticky as all hell, yet this little road just can't seem to disappoint!

Got out of the car and was immediately greeted with the sound of two Yellow-breasted Chat's dueling it out on territories on either side of the road.  What a unique bird...

Perfect Chat habitat...no chat picture :(

Besides the chats, the bird song was pretty active.  There were gobs of Orchard Orioles, Warbling Vireos and Yellow Warblers.  Yet, the heat was opressive!  I love that the birds were singing through it.

The hunt was on for the grosbeak.  They are a medium sized bird, just bigger than their closest ID problem, the Indigo Bunting.  They also have longer tails and of course, a GROSbeak.  They have a soft, warbling song similar to a Painted Bunting (dont I wish...)

I was certain I'd see one, or at least hear it.  Today, the birding gods decided its been too long since I've worked hard for a bird to no avail.  I went up and down the road, sweated it out, got some sunburn, and pulled a big whiff on the bird.  Oh well.  I wouldn't be birding if I always showed and the bird was there.  A little frustration adds to the chase!  Besides, not seeing the grosbeak wasn't a total loss.  It was a good morning of birding!

First fake out!

Second Fake out!

Eastern Kingbird with nesting material

 Juvenile Sparrows in the Genus Spizella (Clay-colored, Chipping, etc.) look very similar to eachother.  I got a shot of one that is most likely a Chipping, but still can be a ID stump.   Staring at birds like this that can make you a better birder and give the occasional headache.

The road dead ends into the beach front, where I went left on an East-West road, sill looking fruitlessly for the Blue Grosbeak.  The lakefront had some thick humidity fog that was there to taunt me as I cursed my sticky Levis.

For my consolation, I was near shocked to hear two Sandhills calling relatively close.  I didn't see any young with them, unfortunately.

Video courtesy of Sir shakes-a-lot.

Please note the heat shimmer and fog :(

On the way back, feeling the bittersweet taste of a good birding day with out the target bird, I met up with one of my non-avian friends.

Later, I went almost to the Wisoncon/Illinois border, making a stop at North Point Marina and Spring Bluff Forest Preserve.  Always optimistic after Subway, I whiffed on my imaginary White-faced and Glossy Ibises, but was rewarded with great views of another pair of Sandhills, this time right next to the road.  Also, heard singing Swamp Sparrow and some "fitz-bew"ing Willow Flycatchers.

It was a good day birding despite the late start and the fact that I sweat enough to fill a reservoir.

Other birds of interest included:

Fly-by Black-billed Cuckoo

All the swallow species you can get here (Tree, Rough-winged, Bank, Barn and Cliff)

Singing Least Flycatcher at IBSP, which I'm hoping found a mate!

On one sad note...I saw this American Redstart, which is a hard-to-get Lake County breeding bird, feeding this "brood" along the road at IBSP.



1 comment:

  1. Nice post, I will put Illinois Beach State Park on my list of places to visit. Would love to see a Blue Grosbeak, would be a lifer for me. Very cool seeing Sandhill Cranes twice in one day!