Saturday was a beautiful day for a bird count. Even though the sun was often shining in our eyes, we saw some great birds at McKee Marsh which is part of the Blackwell Forest Preserve in DuPage County, Illinois.
Even though much of the time the birds were too far away or backlit. it was still worth it to take photographs to document the effort.
In one case, the photographs helped clarify an ID. We couldn’t see the eye-ring on this bird below, and called it a female Mourning Warbler…
But the photographs taken as the bird moved around in the top of the tree proved the bird did indeed have an eye-ring, and so it is a Nashville Warbler.
Although I have done the Christmas Bird Count for years, this was my first Spring Bird Count. I don’t exactly know why I never did one before, but I suspect I was never asked before this year and I never volunteered because Saturday mornings still sometimes carry that sacred sleep-for-the-week designation after an exhausting work week.
But this spring has been so long in coming, it’s hard to resist getting out every chance I get, and so far the last two weekends have been rescheduled around birding.
Finally we are warming up with spring-like weather and the trees are starting to leaf.
We split into two groups to cover different areas. I’m not sure if my group had Bay-Breasted Warbler on the list, but I found the female below in my photographs. Sometimes it seems prudent to focus on capturing an image before the bird disappears and figuring it out later. I know there are purists who look down on this method, but the photographs help me pay attention to detail I might miss while trying to follow the bird’s movements with my binoculars.
The other half of the group likely saw more waterfowl than we did when they took off in the direction of the marsh (we headed towards the woods), but at some point we came around to open water and a flotilla of American Coots seemed to appear suddenly out of nowhere.
Busy Red-Tailed Hawks were presnet too. One was carrying nesting material in its talons, and another had what appeared to be a snake.
Toward the end of the morning we found a marshy area which had a few shorebirds. Compare the similarities and differences between Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper.
We stopped at a shelter with picnic tables for lunch, and there were Barn Swallows waiting patiently on the grill for us to finish getting settled so they could get back to tending their nest.
I managed to do only the first half day of the count. But I will be better-prepared next year, maybe even take off from work the afternoon or the day before so it will be easier to get up early and last all day.
When I got home after grocery shopping, I took a nap. Later in the afternoon after I got up, I noticed White-Crowned Sparrows in the yard and decided to take my chances at photographing one of them.
After taking pictures of one foraging on the ground by the feeders as I sat still on a bench, a White-Crowned Sparrow landed in the tree right in front of me and posed.
Yesterday when I returned from more errands, there were four White-Crowned Sparrows bathing in the bird baths. I’m glad they like my bird-and-breakfast. This morning however there are no signs of them so they may have finally decided to go north to their breeding grounds.
Photos of more spring visitors to come soon. Click on any picture to see an enlargement. 🙂