Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

American Avocet and More Year Birds in Lake County, Illinois May 2, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 8:39 pm
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We’ve been having a great time birding in our neighborhood this week, but the boys were begging to go farther afield to search for year birds unlikely close to home. So, after making Ethan sleep in so he’d recover from his cold, we headed north to Lake County, Illinois. Our first stop was Waukegan Beach, where we saw the Tricolored Heron that’s been hanging there for several days. We also met some other birders, who told us they’d seen an American Avocet and nine Willets at the farthest north beach in Illinois. After seeing first-of-year Bank Swallows and Purple Martins flying over the Waukegan beaches — but not seeing Willets — we decided to head to Stateline Beach.

When we got there at 12:15 p.m., all the Willets were gone, but the Avocet was swimming just offshore. Unfortunately it was scared off by beachwalking humans before Ethan could get photos. We watched it fly eastward and then land about 150 meters out. It swam for 10 minutes or so until the coast was clear, and then flew back to the beach:

After beign scared off by beachwalkers, the American Avocet waited off shore, then returned once the coast was clear. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

After getting scared off by beachwalkers, the American Avocet waited off shore. It flew back to the beach once the coast was clear. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The boys slowly crept close enough to get some semi-decent, identifiable photos. After ten more minutes of Avocet watching, we left in search of other year birds.

We found three year birds at the south unit of Illinois Beach State Park — Yellow-throated Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Veery — but no Willets. So, we returned to Stateline Beach at 4:30 p.m., hoping that morning’s Willets had returned. No such luck. The Avocet, however, was still there, in the same place we’d left it. After a couple with a small dog approached within 50 meters of the Avocet without scaring it away, the boys crept a bit closer than they’d been before, and got somewhat better photos. (Ethan’s Sony DSC-H50 kept focusing on seawalls and sand rather than on the bird.)

The American Avocet mostly sttod or swam in sahllow water. It did not feed while we were watching. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The American Avocet mostly stood or swam in shallow water. It did not feed while we were watching. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We also saw a Cliff Swallow on our second visit the Stateline Beach. That was the boys’ eighth year bird for the day. With any luck our trusting Avocet won’t get eaten overnight and will still be there Sunday morning.

On the way home we looked once again for Willets at Waukegan Beach. We later read on IBET that we’d just missed a flock of more than 80 Willets. Willets may become our nemesis bird of 2009.

Here are some photos of two other year birds for May 2, 2009. To start, here’s our best shot of the Tricolored Heron:

We couldn't get close enough to the Tricolored Heron to get a good photo with Ethan's camera. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We couldn't get close enough to get a good photo with Ethan's camera. However, this shot shows that the Tricolored Heron looks like a smaller, darker version of a Great Blue Heron. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here are a couple of photos of a Veery we saw along the Dead River Trail at the south unit of Illinois Beach State Park. There were two Veerys along the east section of the trail — the part that goes through the woods — in a pool behind the first bench.

This view shows the Veery's reddish-brown upper parts. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Veery is a kind of thrush. This view shows the Veery's reddish-brown upper parts. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

This view shows the faint spots on the Veery's breast.

This view shows the faint spots on the Veery's breast. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Finally, the boys saw their first baby Canada Geese of the spring. (I saw my first ones yesterday at Columbus Park.)

These hatchling Canada Geese were with their parents at North Point Marina. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

These hatchling Canada Geese were with their parents at North Point Marina. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

 

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