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Friday, April 4, 2014

Still "Chasin' Birds" !

My beloved waterfowl are slowly but surely making their way out of the area and on to their winter homes, but that doesn’t mean that I am no longer chasing birds. It merely means that I have shifted my focus so to speak to the other migrants, the residents who are in full breeding colors and in some cases are beginning to nest, and of course the “boys of spring” the wild turkeys that seem to be everywhere in the spring woods right now.

 I’ve been wandering about the last few days – still in search of fine feathered friends. Hmmm seems like I am always “chasin’ birds” doesn’t it?

Although I spend an enormous amount of time looking for birds to photograph, I don’t consider myself a birder; bird watcher yes, bird photographer – of course, and bird hunter, again of course. Let’s be clear on the bird hunting part before some crazed anti-hunting birder jumps on the band wagon – I only use the phrase “bird” as a general description and only hunt legal species that are considered game birds. I am not out there picking off cardinals and nuthatches with an air rifle. Got that folks?

I have been pulling the trigger on the camera a good bit in recent days - I hope you all enjoy the photos as much as I have enjoyed sitting in the spring woods and traverse the recently open waters in search of these beautiful winged wonders!

An unusual find for southern Illinois –

I honestly stumbled into this group of common loons. While they are occasionally seen in southern Illinois during migration, I wouldn’t call them a common visitor. A quick check of the eBird sighting map confirmed that indeed the loons really are just occasional visitors here in my neck of the woods. I might as well admit, I wasn’t looking for them I was looking for a restroom. I knew that one of my favorite boat ramps had good bathrooms so I was headed to there when I noticed what I first thought was an odd looking cormorant (they are common here). Imagine my surprise when I realized I was looking at loons!

one of the loons that is not in "breeding color"

I absolutely spent way too much time planted right there in the little inlet, sitting at the boat ramp, watching these beautiful birds.

The quarry that I was after specifically, were the “boys of spring” – the wild turkey gobblers that are beginning their annual spring show…huffing, puffing, fluffing themselves up and showing of their beautiful tail fans all in hopes of snagging a hen turkey or two.

I was also treated to a show by the migrating white pelicans – evidently the word is out that the shad are running and this neighborhood is a good spot for mid migration snack.

Not to be outdone by the bigger birds, this lovely ringneck pheasant rooster came trotting through as I was waiting on the gobblers to get a little closer to me. I’m not sure who more surprised to see who; the pheasant or me!
I love our local migrant, resident, and occasional birds, and I love photographing them. I am really excited to announce that thanks to the generosity and assistance with planning a super trip by the Fond du Lac CVB I will be attending the world famous Horicon Marsh Birding Festival this year. I can’t even imagine the photo opportunities and sightings that await me in Wisconsin!

Until it’s time for my much anticipated trip to Fond du Lac, Lake Winnebago, and Horicon Marsh; I will keep myself content roaming the backwaters, the fields, and the forests chasing our southern Illinois birds!

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