Date: 2/6/18 7:30 pm From: Jared Gorrell <jsgorrell...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...> Subject: IBET Red-necked Grebes at Baldwin Lake (St.Clair co.) + Other Fun in Southwestern IL (2/6)
After seeing that Keith McMullen had a Red-necked Grebe at Baldwin Lake, and after Don Mullison had two earlier today (and three Long-tailed Ducks!), I decided it would be a good afternoon to explore southwestern IL some more, especially with the freezing rain tonight.
After class got out at 11:30 I went over to the Carbondale Reservoir. I am doing a county big year in Jackson County, so I feel that if I don't do at least some local birding every day in this county I shouldn't be running off further afield. The most interesting birds at the Carbondale Reservoir were a Canvasback and an immature Herring Gull (which isn't very common here), so I moved on.
Along White Lane in Jackson County I spotted a Rough-legged Hawk, my second one of the year in Jackson, and heard a few Lapland Longspurs fly over as I watched the hawk. There were also a Red-shouldered and Red-tailed present, making it a three-Buteo stop.
I then found the two Whooping Cranes at their continuing location. (I'm not sure that I should be posting their location publicly, though it's fairly well known). Oddly, in the last year I've seen three separate Whooping Cranes in Illinois and no Sandhill Cranes (despite looking for Sandhills three times in northeastern IL in 2017). That just seems wrong. Hopefully I'll find a few Sandhills this year, they're becoming a nemesis. Also, please don't send me an email telling me I should report the Whooping Cranes. That's already been done for these birds by several other people.
I then drove over to Baldwin Lake for my very first time, and after some confusion made my way to Kaskaskia State Fish and Wildlife Area in St. Clair County. Looking out from the boat ramp there in a southeasterly direction, I spotted two Red-necked Grebes (State Lifer #275!) They were quite easy to ID as they were associating with five Horned Grebes.
The Snow Geese that had been resting on the lake began to fly over. What I'd assumed to be roughly 10,000 Snow Geese turned into an estimate by hundreds of 34,600, plus 57 Ross' Geese, individually counted. That's a personal high count for me for both species! I also spotted two female Greater Scaups among the Lessers after driving down to the power plant road gate further south and scoping. I missed Don's Long-tailed Ducks, but I suspect that may be due to my limited time before sunset and lack of experience with birding that area.
A surprise Short-eared Owl at twilight off Wine Hill Road between Wine Hill and Shiloh Hill was a fine cap to a great afternoon of birding in southwestern Illinois. I made it home just as the freezing rain began to hit (which should make it considerably riskier to go birding tomorrow).
Jared Gorrell Jackson co. (was in Randolph, Perry, and St. Clair counties today, also)