Our group covered Elsen's Hill for the Spring Bird Count on Saturday. We ended the morning with about 25 species of warblers which is a very good total, but many species were only represented by single individuals. The best highlight was a male CERULEAN WARBLER that was along the path down by the river and never seemed to get more than 10 feet off the ground, at times even feeding on the ground. I also heard a second male Cerulean singing a little bit further west down the path. By the back pond, best birds included a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER and a MOURNING WARBLER. At least two WHITE-EYED VIREOS were also very cooperative.
Some unusual lingering birds included one GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET and the most bizarre DARK-EYED JUNCO that had a crest and was also missing its tail.
Aside from the warblers, another highlight was a flyover AMERICAN BITTERN that Vince Moxon and I saw early in the morning (likely headed to the marsh just north of the river in the north part of West DuPage Woods).
In the afternoon, a few highlights at St. James Farm included lingering PINE WARBLERS, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and a PINE SISKIN.
The hawthorn trees which are the biggest warbler magnet at Elsen's have yet to bloom still which is much later than normal. The past couple years they have already been past blooming stage already by the bird count which is also abnormal. After about 15 years of doing the Spring Bird Count here, a lot has changed, most not for the better bird-wise. Combined with the continual burning that the DuPage Forest Preserve District does that is relatively quickly killing out more and more of the hawthorn trees (along with buckthorn and cherry tree removal), Elsen's hasn't been what it was in years past, despite still being one of the best spots for warblers in the county and an Important Bird Area for migrants. It's unfortunate that the forest preserve district still prioritizes other things so much above the birds and won't put more funds towards planting native shrubs. I hope things can change in the future.