I spent much of the morning exploring the East side conifers, hoping to find crossbills. Few winter finches were found, only about 11 siskins, a few House Finch and Goldfinch and a single Purple Finch.
However, to my surprise, it was hopping at Parking #16 (which is immediately east down the road from the Appalachian Collection). There's a little creek with water along the hiking path across the road from this lot. Therein I first heard, then saw and finally photographed a singing Carolina Wren. With it was a 2nd Carolina, it seeming like this was a pair or perhaps a immature with its parent. While singing, a 3rd bird began counter-singing to the northwest somewhere in the Appalachian Collection. Carolina's are quite rare at the Arb, so getting a 2nd was noteworthy - a 3rd, very disarmingly wonderful.
As if this tally wasn't amazing enough, a 4th bird was later found on the West side, first heard singing southwest of the Fragrance Garden, then was able to 'pish' it over to the road southwest of that garden, where I watched it for a short time. This still was the end of the story, as Alan Stokie had already found a 5th Carolina Wren at the west end of Marmo Lake... 5 Carolina Wrens at the Arb today! Interestingly, I had Winter Wrens mixed into the area where the Carolina's were, so they seemed to be sharing similar food habitats.
Back at parking #16, a Pileated Woodpecker was calling immediately west of there in the oak woods, the closest I've had one to the visitor center. Also, a 'meowing' Gray Catbird was here, joined by Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a number of singing Fox Sparrows (if you've never heard a Fox Sparrow sing, its worth it). Overall, I had 34 Fox Sparrows at the Arb, of which 9 different ones were singing this morning. My guess is that this small creek at parking #16 must have harbored plenty of insects to have such a concentration of birds in a small area (many of which were uncommon/rare).
Lastly, there were hawks migrating over this morning. The times I was able to focus on the sky, it typically only took few minutes to get one passing over. They include mainly adult Red-tailed Hawks, but also Sharpy and Coops.
On a separate note, Redheads and Greater Scaups have finally arrived as Fall migrants, both I saw flying into Waukegan Harbor late this afternoon.