Category Archives: LCFPD

Lake County Forest Preserve District

Crane family

On Sunday at Rollins we watched a pair of Sandhill Cranes with one young chick.

Sandhill Crane family

Sandhill Crane family

They were walking in the shallow water. The adults would forage and sometimes pass food to the chick, which you can see in the second part of the video.

Sandhill Crane family

Sandhill Crane family

Sandhill Crane family

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BPW: Bobolinks

When we visited Rollins Savanna on Sunday, one of the first birds we saw was a Bobolink.


He was kind of far away but we got good looks at this new life bird.


We soon realized the place was actually full of them – there were Bobolinks everywhere!



We saw them in the meadow, flying over, even enjoying some dandelions along the path.


Females were there too, but they were a bit more shy. We saw males vying for their attention.



I love this bird’s song. We could hear the males singing almost everywhere we walked. The computer-like sound really reminded me of the call Northern Lapwings make when courting. The sound is very different but also sounds like a 1980’s computer sound effect.

For more bird photos from all over the world, have a look at this week’s other Bird Photography Weekly submissions.

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Favorite hangouts, here and there

This morning we walked at Rollins Savanna from about 6:45 to 9:00am. I really like this preserve and I’m so happy that it’s the closest one to our house. One of these days we are going to try and bike there, although I’m not sure how we can do it safely. When we drive there we take a fairly busy road that I wouldn’t want to cycle on. One of our favorite places to go birding in the Netherlands was Starrevaart, which we could cycle to from our home in Leiden in about 45 minutes. Wouldn’t it be great if we could also cycle to our favorite birding spot from our house here?

We counted 27 observed bird species plus a few deer, one muskrat and a maybe mink.

The sky was overcast but the birds were out singing. Red-winged Blackbirds were claiming their territories.

Red-winged Blackbird

We spotted a couple of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in the reeds.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

An American Coot was preening in the marsh.

American Coot

Later, the sky opened up and the sun started to shine. We saw a pair of Gadwall on this pond.

Pond at Rollins Savanna

We’ve seen them before in the Netherlands as well as Spain. It’s interesting learning which birds are the same in different countries. Some species we see here, like the Great Egret, Northern Shoveler, Sanderling, Dunlin, Herring Gull and Winter Wren are the same ones that live across the pond.

On the other hand, a lot of birds have an equivalent similar species in both regions. For example, in Europe you’ve got the Bittern, Crane, Common Coot, Golden Plover, Nightjar, Woodcock, Common Kingfisher, Fieldfare, Great Tit and Nuthatch. Here we’ve got the American Bittern, Sandhill Crane, American Coot, American Golden Plover, Common Nighthawk, American Woodcock, Belted Kingfisher, American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee and White-breasted Nuthatch. Notice how a lot of the European birds are called “common” or have simple names, while the American ones are often called “American” or have more descriptive names?

One bird that you might think was an equivalent situation is the Robin vs. American Robin, but you’d be wrong. Check out this post from Birdchick where she recently encountered a Robin of the European kind in Frankfurt.

We saw a few more birds on this walk (including a lifer) that I’d like to share on the blog, but I’m saving them for other posts. Stay tuned!

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Grant Woods outing

This morning we went out birding at Grant Woods. It was the second time we visited the preserve. The walk was sponsored by Lake Cook Audubon and Lake County Forest Preserve District and was lead by Ken Klick. Our group was made up of about 30 birders from all levels of experience.

Arthur and I counted 23 observed species although I am sure others in the group got more. Several even saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird – which we have yet to see this year, drat! I wonder if anyone has ever named a hummer their nemesis bird?!

Grant Woods is a huge preserve with two main sections of about 500 acres separated by a thin strip of land. We walked the north part of the park. Habitats include prairie, woodland forest and marsh. Here is a path we passed by during our walk.

Grant Woods

It sure looks lovely, doesn’t it? We’ll have to take it next time!

We saw a lot of Indigo Buntings on this walk, including this guy, singing his heart out.

Indigo Bunting Singing

Other highlights were a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on a nest, fussing and singing, and really good looks at a Blue-winged Warbler and a Golden-winged Warbler (much better than the below photo would have you think).

Golden-winged Warbler

It was another fun bird outing – and the resulting warbler neck wasn’t too bad, either!

Warbler Neck

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The trees are alive with the songs of warblers

We went out this morning with the Lake-Cook Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society to two Lake County Forest Preserves: Daniel Wright Woods and Ryerson Woods. For a group hoping for a warbler fallout, the excursion was a bit short on warblers but heavy on flycatchers (5 species). It was a great morning out with about 28 other birders and 57 different species seen by the group.

We started at Daniel Wright at 7:00am.

The trees were full of birds.

The Trees are Alive with the Sound of Warblers

I swear, they were! What else would these people be looking at? (Can’t tell they are birders, can you?)


I didn’t have a prayer to photograph most of the birds we saw today. You know how warblers are.

We saw this Olive-sided Flycatcher (the one that says “quick, three beers!”) working over a bug, maybe a bee.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher w/ bug

We also spotted a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest and two adults foraging on a picnic table. We got very nice looks but I only managed these butt shots.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on nest

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

All during the morning our large group had to clear the path for runners, walkers, and bikers. We would shout out “bikers!” or “runners!” to warn the rest of the our group of birders to clear the way. At one point during the walk, our group split up a bit and the part of the group that had walked ahead spotted a Black-throated Blue Warbler – a great find. When the birders in the second group heard what we had, well, we had to shout out “running birders!” because they really hustled over to get on the bird. 🙂 Here’s part of our group working on their warbler necks.

Warbler Neck

Another interesting find for the day was this unusually-plumaged Indigo Bunting singing his heart out. He is probably young as he is rather dull and does not sport the bright blue feathers typical of this species.

The group was lead by Mike Trahan and I thought he was another outstanding leader. He, along with fellow members of Lake-Cook Audubon, made sure everyone got looks at all of the birds.

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Early Spring Migrants

On Sunday morning we had the extreme pleasure to join experienced birder Jim Solum for the Early Spring Migrants program by the Lake County Forest Preserve District. To our surprise, we were the only participants, which meant that we had a private birding guide for the morning – awesome!

We met Jim at Spring Bluff Forest Preserve where we walked down a closed service road to look for birds. Right away we saw Northern Shoveler and Blue-winged Teal in the water through Jim’s scope. Soon an Eastern Meadowlark landed in a nearby tree for great looks. Song Sparrows were back and everywhere. During our walk (also by the lake at North Point Marina) we had Common Snipe, Wood Ducks, Northern Pintail and several Sandhill Cranes flying over.

Since we’re new to the area (sort of – I wasn’t really birding much before I moved to Holland) it was great to be able to ask Jim some basic questions – like when certain migrants can be expected to return, where we can see birds like Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and do Common Loons breed here (because they’re being reported everywhere! They are just passing through on their way to more northerly breeding grounds).

After the walk, we left Jim and had a short walk around the marina and then on a trail in another part of Spring Bluff. Besides lots of Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds, we saw Bufflehead and one Horned Grebe. Not nearly as many birds as we saw with our guide! 😉


Horned Grebe

We also saw this a cute black squirrel. We don’t see them too often so it was a treat.

Black Squirrel

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Independence Grove spring bird action

This morning we walked the Lakeside Trail at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the birds were active.

A lone Killdeer was calling at the water’s edge.


A Ring-billed Gull snacked on a crab along the path.

We saw our first Brown-headed Cowbirds of the season.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere, showing off for the ladies and staking out territory.

Red-winged Blackbird display

The lake was full of waterfowl. You can see American Coots, Redheads, and Common Goldeneye in this photo.

Fowl on lake at Independence Grove

We even saw a Red-winged Blackbird dive-bombing a Red-tailed Hawk.




The last time we went to Independence Grove was on New Year’s Day and it was well below freezing. We barely lasted 10 minutes outside before we ran back to the comfort of the car. Today’s weather was muuuuuch better! 🙂

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Birding brings back yard birds

We went out for a walk where we didn’t see too much and couldn’t take any decent photos, but when we came home we found two new yard birds, yippee!

We went to Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve this morning. There were Red-winged Blackbirds everywhere. A sure sign of spring! We also saw some Hooded Mergansers and Redheads on the water. And we spotted this lone white-tailed deer:

It has warmed up significantly since our last outing (about 20 degrees!), but the wind was still howling and the sky was overcast during our time at the savanna, so it was very bad for photos.

When we got home we were rewarded with not one but two new yard birds! A pair of House Finches visited one of the feeders. And later, a pair of Mourning Doves checked out our makeshift ground feeder.

House Finches

House Finches

Mourning Doves

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Nippy at Nippersink

Today we visited Nippersink Forest Preserve in Round Lake.

Nippersink is a 309 acre park with two lakes, woods, wetlands and marshes. Here’s a view we had from the main trail that circles the park.

Nippersink Forest Preserve

It was very cold with a biting wind. We couldn’t feel our faces for much of the walk.

Here Arthur’s smiling but you can hardly tell since he’s so bundled up.

Nippersink Forest Preserve

It's cold out there!

And that’s me, bundled up on the boardwalk.


The sun was shining brightly through the bare trees. In just a few weeks the trees will start to be green again.

Crisp sky at Nippersink

While walking, we saw few birds. A pair of crows called from across the park. Some juncos foraged in the foliage. And we saw a little brown furball busy at the water’s edge in one of the few places that wasn’t frozen over: a muskrat!

Muskrat at Nippersink

Muskrat at Nippersink

I took this little video when we were a safe distance away. You might want to turn down the audio as the wind was howling:

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Posted in Illinois, LCFPD | 1 Comment