Sunday, June 23, 2013

Birding with the Illinois and Indiana Young Birders Clubs

Yesterday, the Illinois Young Birders (ILYB) and Indiana Young Birders Club (IYBC) meet up at Willow Slough and Kankakee Sands in northwest Indiana for a joint field trip. It was very exciting for both clubs to finally meet up and have a joint field trip with another state's group. The kids all hit it off right away and everyone had a great time getting to know each other throughout the day!

Our first stop was at the Willow Slough Headquarters where a couple of the ILYB found an active Red-headed Woodpecker nest! Several of the members were also excited to get their lifer Purple Martins while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

Not a very good shot due to the light but this Red-headed Woodpecker 
Since storms were threatening, we decided to skip the rest of Willow Slough for the time being and head on to look for grassland species at Kankakee Sands. We started at the headquarters where there is a shelter so that we could stay out of the rain and continue to bird. Luckily, the storm moved to the south of us and we barely got any rain. From the shelter, we were able to get scope views of both Henslow's and Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissel! We tried to go down one short path threw the grasslands but it was flooded over and we decided to turn around.

With two targets down, we moved on to look for a couple of the other specialty species of the area. Some of the group was able to see three Lark Sparrows but most missed them. As we were looking for the sparrows, the rain started back up and we decided to officially end the field trip. Several of the families wanted to keep birding in spite of the rain so a small group of us continued on.

As we drove along, Landon spotted a bird perched on the top of a tree and when we got the scope on it, it was a Blue Grosbeak! Other highlights as we drove the roads through Kankakee Sands included over 100 Grasshopper Sparrows, an estimated 80 Dickcissels, 15 Henslow's Sparrows, and several Bobolinks.

This Dickcissel would not turn and look at me but I had to take a few photos since it was perched so close.
I never was able to get a shot of a Grasshopper Sparrow that was close by but I did get this terribly blurry photo.
If you are a young birder and you live in either one of these states, I highly recommend that you look into joining your state's club. Everyone had an awesome time, learned a lot, and saw some fantastic birds!

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