Quick Trip to Illinois

I had vacation days I had to use or lose, but Sally didn’t. I used five of them to drive to Illinois to accomplish three things.

  1. Visit family and friends
  2. Pick up some of Mom’s furniture that Linda has been keeping for us.
  3. Bird

I left early on Monday, May 7 and drove north to Pawnee National Grasslands. The draw was McCown’s and Chestnut-collared Longspurs, both lifers, that had been seen there regularly. In about three hours, I saw both of them and a nice collection of other birds.

I left the grasslands shortly after noon and headed east. I was cruising along I-80 near Grand Island, Nebraska around suppertime. I had my cruise set at seven over the limit when I passed a cop. I pulled off the median and turned on his lights. 

He walked up to my passenger-side window and said, “How are you this evening, sir?” He asked for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. I had them all ready. He said, “I had you going a little fast, but not 10 over. I’ll just give you a warning.” Which he did. 

I wonder if my Colorado plates were a factor. Colorado has become the chief source for illegal pot, so maybe he was looking for an excuse to search my car. But when he saw me and ran my plates, he let me go quickly. I don’t think I was stopped for 10 minutes.

Because of it, however, I decided to continue driving until I got out of the state. I stopped at a Comfort Suites in Council Bluff, Iowa. Three Common Nighthawks were flying and calling over the parking lot.

I left Council Bluffs early on Tuesday after a disgusting breakfast at the hotel. The sun was rising over a lift factory next door.

My final 40 miles in Illinois were through a construction zone on I-88 where the speed limit was 45. Since I was early, I stopped at Nelson Lake Marsh and birded for about three hours. I stopped by Linda’s to drop off my luggage and take a shower, then met Beth at a Panera in Wheaton for supper.

On Wednesday, I drove up to Cary and birded my old haunts—Moraine Hills, Baker’s Lake, and Crabtree. The birding was great. Warblers and Vireos were moving in big numbers everywhere I went. I bought a soggy bagel dog at Einstein Bros., which was disappointing after craving one for the last year and a half. Lindy called, and I saw at the tables in front of the restaurant for 20 minutes and talked with her.

In the evening, I met up with the Kauffmans and Sahlis at Slyce in Wauconda for supper.

On Thursday, I picked up Nate and we drove up to Sugar River and Rock Cut. The birding was lively again. I ended the day with 85 at those two places and another five that I saw while driving. We quit at 4:00 so I could go out to dinner with Linda. It wouldn’t have been hard to get over 100 on the day with a little more time and some targeted effort. Linda and I went to Chili’s and then visited the Wicks for an hour.

I headed back west on Friday. I stopped on a cloudy, windy evening at a marsh west of Lincoln, Nebraska, where Upland Sandpipers had been reported. I saw one, and a bunch of other cool birds. I stayed the night at a Holiday Inn Express in York.

Saturday was overcast and rainy all the way across Nebraska and into northern Colorado. It wasn’t until I got within 75 miles of Colorado Springs that the sun came out. Figures. Everywhere I went on this trip was green and wet except near home. I’d gotten off to an early start again, so I pulled off at a couple small wildlife areas and saw a smattering of birds for my Nebraska list. I also stopped in Kearney at the Archway, a western expansion museum built into an arch over I-80.

I cut south east of Denver on back roads to avoid traffic and tolls. I got home right at 4:00 pm. Here’s a list of the birds I saw on my trip by day. I ended with 155 total in the six days, including two lifers and 85 new birds for the year. That brings my year total up to 260, just two short of my all-time record.

 

Canada Goose
(1)

(1)
15 
(2)

(1)
Mute Swan
(1)
Wood Duck
(2)

(2)

(1)
Blue-winged Teal
(1)
50 
(2)
Gadwall
(1)

(1)
Mallard
(2)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)
Green-winged Teal
(1)
10 
(1)
Ring-necked Pheasant
(1)
Wild Turkey
(2)

(1)
Double-crested Cormorant
(1)
12 
(3)
American White Pelican
(1)
Great Blue Heron
(1)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(1)
Great Egret
(3)
Cattle Egret
(1)
Green Heron
(1)
Black-crowned Night-Heron
(1)
Turkey Vulture
(1)

(1)

(1)
Osprey
(1)
Northern Harrier
(1)
Cooper’s Hawk
(1)
Bald Eagle
(1)
Swainson’s Hawk
(3)

(1)
Red-tailed Hawk
(1)

(1)

(3)

(1)
Sandhill Crane
(1)

(2)

(1)
American Avocet
(1)
American Golden-Plover
(1)
Semipalmated Plover
(1)
Killdeer
(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)
Upland Sandpiper
(1)
Stilt Sandpiper 25 
(2)
Baird’s Sandpiper
(1)
Least Sandpiper
(1)
Pectoral Sandpiper
(1)
Semipalmated Sandpiper
(1)
Long-billed Dowitcher
(1)
Wilson’s Phalarope
(1)

(1)
Spotted Sandpiper
(1)

(1)
Solitary Sandpiper
(1)
Lesser Yellowlegs
(1)
Franklin’s Gull 250 
(2)
Ring-billed Gull
(1)
Caspian Tern 13 
(1)
Rock Pigeon
(2)
Eurasian Collared-Dove
(1)

(2)
Mourning Dove
(5)

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

(3)
Great Horned Owl
(1)
Burrowing Owl
(1)
Barred Owl
(1)
Common Nighthawk
(1)
Chimney Swift
(1)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
(1)
Belted Kingfisher
(2)

(1)
Red-headed Woodpecker
(1)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
(1)

(2)

(2)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
(1)
Downy Woodpecker
(1)

(1)

(1)
Hairy Woodpecker
(1)
Northern Flicker
(1)

(3)

(1)
Pileated Woodpecker
(1)
American Kestrel
(1)
Eastern Wood-Pewee
(2)
Acadian Flycatcher
(1)
Eastern Phoebe
(1)
Say’s Phoebe
(1)
Great Crested Flycatcher
(1)

(1)

(1)
Western Kingbird
(1)

(1)

(4)
Eastern Kingbird
(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)
Loggerhead Shrike
(2)
White-eyed Vireo
(1)
Yellow-throated Vireo
(2)

(2)
Blue-headed Vireo
(1)
Warbling Vireo
(2)

(1)
Red-eyed Vireo
(1)

(1)
Blue Jay
(1)

(2)

(2)
American Crow
(1)

(2)
Horned Lark 40 
(1)

(3)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
(1)

(1)

(2)
Tree Swallow 12 
(2)

(1)
Bank Swallow
(1)
Barn Swallow
(1)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(1)

(2)
Cliff Swallow
(1)
Black-capped Chickadee
(1)

(2)

(2)
Tufted Titmouse
(1)
White-breasted Nuthatch
(1)

(3)

(1)
House Wren
(1)

(2)

(2)

(1)
Sedge Wren
(1)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
(1)

(2)
15 
(2)
Eastern Bluebird
(2)

(1)
Veery
(1)
Gray-cheeked Thrush
(1)

(1)

(1)
Swainson’s Thrush
(1)

(2)
Wood Thrush
(1)

(1)
American Robin
(1)
10 
(1)
10 
(3)
12 
(1)

(2)

(2)
Gray Catbird
(1)

(2)

(2)

(1)
Brown Thrasher
(1)

(1)
Northern Mockingbird
(1)
European Starling
(3)

(1)

(3)
Chestnut-collared Longspur
(1)
McCown’s Longspur
(1)
Louisiana Waterthrush
(1)
Northern Waterthrush
(1)

(1)

(1)
Golden-winged Warbler
(1)
Blue-winged Warbler
(1)
Black-and-white Warbler
(2)

(2)
Prothonotary Warbler
(2)
Tennessee Warbler
(3)

(2)
Nashville Warbler
(1)

(3)

(1)
Common Yellowthroat
(1)

(2)

(2)
American Redstart
(1)

(2)

(1)
Cape May Warbler
(3)

(1)
Northern Parula
(1)

(1)
Magnolia Warbler
(1)

(2)
Bay-breasted Warbler
(1)
Blackburnian Warbler
(2)
Yellow Warbler
(1)

(2)

(2)

(1)
Chestnut-sided Warbler
(1)

(2)
Blackpoll Warbler
(2)

(2)

(1)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
(1)
Palm Warbler 10 
(1)

(2)

(2)
Yellow-rumped Warbler 25 
(1)
12 
(3)
15 
(2)

(1)
Yellow-throated Warbler
(1)
Black-throated Green Warbler
(3)

(2)
Canada Warbler
(1)
Wilson’s Warbler
(1)
Grasshopper Sparrow
(1)
Chipping Sparrow 12 
(1)

(2)
Clay-colored Sparrow
(1)

(1)
Field Sparrow
(1)

(1)

(1)
Lark Sparrow
(1)

(1)
Lark Bunting 75 
(1)
15 
(2)
White-crowned Sparrow
(1)

(2)

(1)
Harris’s Sparrow
(1)
White-throated Sparrow
(1)
Vesper Sparrow
(1)
Savannah Sparrow
(1)
Song Sparrow 12 
(1)

(2)

(1)

(1)
Lincoln’s Sparrow
(1)
Swamp Sparrow
(1)
Eastern Towhee
(2)
Scarlet Tanager
(1)
Northern Cardinal
(1)

(2)

(2)

(1)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
(1)

(2)

(1)
Indigo Bunting
(1)

(1)

(1)
Dickcissel
(1)
Yellow-headed Blackbird
(1)
Bobolink
(1)
Western Meadowlark
(5)

(5)
Eastern Meadowlark
(1)
Orchard Oriole
(1)
Baltimore Oriole
(1)

(3)

(2)

(1)
Red-winged Blackbird
(3)
25 
(1)
25 
(3)

(1)

(1)

(3)
Brown-headed Cowbird
(1)

(1)
20 
(2)

(2)
Common Grackle
(5)

(1)

(2)

(1)

(2)

(5)

(1)
American Goldfinch
(1)

(1)

(2)

(1)
House Sparrow
(1)

(1)
 
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