Category Archives: LCFPD

Lake County Forest Preserve District

Wood Ducks at Prairie Wolf

Last week while visiting my parents, Arthur and I stopped at Prairie Wolf Slough. There we had our best looks ever at a pair of Wood Ducks. They spent time preening and then settling down for a nap. Usually when we spot Wood Ducks, they are either far off or extremely wary of us and fly away. It was a real treat to observe this beautiful pair. There are several Wood Duck boxes at the slough; I hope we will get to see these birds again, maybe once with ducklings!

Wood Duck pair

Wood Duck pair

Wood Duck pair

Wood Duck pair

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Raven Glen at March’s end

This morning we went on a bird walk with Lake County Audubon, an affiliate of the National Audubon Society. This was our first walk with this club (we often go with Lake-Cook Audubon, an affiliate of Illinois Audubon. Confused yet? We were!). I’m not sure we will make mid-week birdwalks a regular thing, but with this kind of weather it was hard to resist.

We spent a pleasant morning at Lake County Forest Preserve’s Raven Glen. We saw a total of 23 species along with a rather large group of birders.

The only FOY for us was a fleeting glimpse at a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We had nice looks at an Eastern Meadowlark and some low-flying Sandhill Cranes, both of which were FOYs for some fellow birders on the walk.

It was a nice morning out on an incredibly beautiful day. Not a bad end to March 2010!

Location: Raven Glen Forest Preserve (Lake Co.)
Observation date: 3/31/10
Number of species: 23

Canada Goose – Branta canadensis 6
Wood Duck – Aix sponsa 4
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos 6
Common Merganser – Mergus merganser 15
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis 3
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus 3
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius 1
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens 2
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata 2
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos 1
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor 4
White-breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis 1
American Robin – Turdus migratorius 40
European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris 1
Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia 10
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus 40
Eastern Meadowlark – Sturnella magna 3
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula 2
Brown-headed Cowbird – Molothrus ater 4
House Finch – Carpodacus mexicanus 1
American Goldfinch – Carduelis tristis 1

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Leucistic Robin

I saw my first leucistic American Robin on Sunday afternoon on the way to Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest. I had just parked the car at Elawa Farm and saw the bird before I even got out of the car. I laughed because I had already seen a photo of this same bird, the day before, posted on a friend’s Facebook page. I’ve posted these on Flickr so you can click through to see them bigger.

Leucistic Robin 1/3

Leucistic Robin 3/3

Leucistic Robin 2/3

Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Go have a look at this week’s submissions!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, LCFPD, Offbeat | 4 Comments

Random Rollins spring melt

Weekend rain and higher temperatures melting feet of snow left Rollins Savanna wet and fresh during our late afternoon walk yesterday.

The path was flooded near a stream crossing, but at less than an inch of water this was no problem to pass.

Red-winged Blackbirds were staking out grassland stalks. Konk-la-reeing continued even on icy marsh water.

Muskrats were muddy, and active in the warmer weather. Time for spring cleaning, I reckon.

We took a detour which ended up being totally flooded out. We decided not to pass here, as the water was at least 6 inches deep and the flooding continued further up the path, maybe even deeper.

A small herd of deer watched us as the sun started to set.

We even heard our FOY (first-of-year) Meadowlarks singing their hearts out. Yay spring!

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Kestrel catches supper

Earlier this week we took a short walk at Rollins Savanna. It was cold, but the sun was shining (at least when we started our walk) and it was nice to get some fresh air. We saw something pretty neat. I don’t have great photos of what we saw, but I wanted to share it anyway. 🙂

Walking on the Education Trail Loop on the south side of the preserve, we noticed a falcon fly across our view. It landed in a tree far ahead of us on the trail. We approached slowly and stopped to look through our binoculars. An American Kestrel!

Suddenly the bird dropped to the ground, out of view behind snow-covered reeds. I didn’t realize it until I looked at my photos later, but I captured the bird on its dive down to the ground. It’s in the lower right corner of the shot.

And then, not a minute later, the bird rose up, with a mouse in its talons. Wow!

It landed in a far away tree and ate its supper. We stood far away, but we could see pretty well through our bins. It was so neat to see!

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Fluffy deer, cold me

I took a walk at Rollins Savanna in the late afternoon on January 1st. The only bird I saw was my FOY American Robin. I also noted a Baltimore Oriole nest I remembered finding earlier in the year on bird walk with Lake-Cook Audubon, back on a cool day in June.

Part of the trail I took passes through a cattail marsh, which was naturally frozen over. I was really surprised to count over 30 muskrat lodges in the marsh. The mounds are nearly completely covered by the cattails during the summer and I would never have guessed the amount of muskrat activity in this water!

I remember being cold on that June walk, but it doesn’t compare to the below-freezing temperatures we’ve had since the year started. The savanna was covered in snow which crunched beneath my feet. I was joined by at least nine White-tailed Deer.

The cold snap that’s hit most of the country looks to stick around for a while. I’m no cold weather hero, so I think that walk at Rollins will have to satisfy my birding bug for a while.

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The lifer that wasn’t

January 1st we visited a few lakefront sites, starting with North Point Marina and Spring Bluff Forest Preserve. A Northern Shrike had been reported there by other birders, and we were happy to find it, too. It perched along the trail before us and we stopped to observe it a few times as we approached.

Eventually it flew to a small tree further off the trail. As we passed the tree I looked for any prey items impaled on thorns. I didn’t find any but I can see why the shrike might like this tree.

Once we had passed it returned to its preferred perch to resume its watch over the field. I was sure this was a life bird for us but I underestimated the range of the Northern Shrike – I mean Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor). These birds live throughout much of the temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, and we actually saw our first one in Portugal in 2007. This wasn’t the first time we saw a bird and thought LIFER! when in fact we had seen the species before, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Ever happened to you?

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly, hosted by Birdfreak. Check out this week’s submissions – and while you’re at it, why don’t you submit your own BPW post?

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Posted in Birding Blooper, LCFPD, Life List | 5 Comments

The hawk and the dove at Middlefork Savanna

On October 17th we joined Lake-Cook Audubon‘s morning bird walk at Middlefork Savanna. The total area of Middlefork Savanna measures 670 acres, 25 of which “is considered the highest quality tallgrass savanna of its kind in the nation and recognized as a globally threatened ecosystem.”

Middlefork Prairie

Middlefork Wetland

Our large group of enthusiastic birders saw a total of 34 species. Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere, showing off and calling as if it was springtime.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

A family of Red-headed Woodpeckers gave almost everyone in the group really great looks, and a few flying Wilson’s Snipes were lifers for many in our party. A young Cooper’s Hawk was also very cooperative, alternately swooping over the prairie and perching in plain sight.

Cooper's Hawk

Interestingly, at one point when the young hawk was perched in a bare tree, we noticed there was also a Mourning Dove sitting in the same tree. They sat this way together for quite a while, and a sparrow even joined them later.

Hawk and Dove

Had the hawk just eaten and the other birds knew this, seeing no threat in the hawk? Was the hawk exhausted from hunting? Why did the other birds feel comfortable perching so close to a killer?

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Green Herons out and about

For most of the summer we only manage to spot Green Herons in flight. I know they’re here, hunting in ponds and streams, even nesting and roosting in trees, but they’re kind of secretive.

Green Heron

Last week at Rollins we saw three juvenile herons acting very un-heronlike, perching out in the open. They flew from snag to snag and one even landed on a utility wire.

Green Heron

Green Heron

The streaked necks would give them away as juveniles, if their behavior didn’t tip you off first.

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Late summer morning

Dewey spider web

Dewdrops shine on spidey’s place
Blinding me at certain angles


Birds hop-hop on old dead space
Flicker stands while warbler dangles


Meadow, bramble, water, reed
A female king surveys her lands

Belted Kingfisher

Itchy Egret feels a need
Scratches head with feet (no hands)

Great Egret with an itch

Rollins Savanna, September 3rd.

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