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: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13  ( 2273 )


  • Matt Fraker
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IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« : April 13, 2013, 08:35:47 PM »
The day of reckoning....

A Field Trip called "The Smith's Longspur Field Trip"...

...and I had logged way over 300 miles without one. Two veteran central Illinois peregrines had come up empty -- Travis Mahan and Tyler Funk (who DID find an early one, but logged 100 miles recently without one). Thanks to both of you for your prompt and timely feedback, even if it was not what I wanted to hear.

But we had a trip to do, and do it we did. 22 people met me at the Chenoa McDonald's for today's adventure. Of the 22, eight were Illinois young birders.

Despite the dismal scouting report, we held true and still walked the Chenoa Longspur field that had been mowed down. The owners had given us permission to walk this field in its entirety today and I knew birds were in it, although probably not Longspurs.

Fairly quickly we got on a small "pop 'n' flop" sparrow that acted like a Le Conte's. We followed this bird in classic frustrated fashion until Henry Deese pegged the skulky little trickster tucked into the mowed grass. He got me on it, and then we shared great looks across the group (including at least one lifer look for Gary Jahnke) as this little beauty sat tight for lots of looks and pics. Hopefully we will have somebody post pics on this thread.

As we worked the field to the east downwind from the wicked west winds, we spooked up more sparrows including mostly Vesper and Savanna, although it was likely a couple more Le Conte's were also in the "pop 'n' flop" crowd. Nearing the east side of the field, Nick Minor called out a heard Longspur as the bird flew right over our heads. I was dumbfounded. That was it -- a single Smith's Longspur that came from god knows where and kept flying to the horizon, but made sure to fly right over our heads en route. A terrible look; a brief experience; but it did not take 400 miles to find it. And regardless -- the damn thing counted! We could officially keep the title to this trip.

After this frozen down windblown adventure, a couple folks departed but the rest of us decided on a Clinton Lake run since the Fraker Farm was going to be a snakeless, tick borne, sloppy option.

We started at the Salt Creek Wetland Restoration Project which provided around 100 American White Pelicans, lots of waterfowl, a few Eagles, and a generally nice mix of other birds -- just a nice spot for birdwatching. Here is the entire IOS crew looking at the waterfowl:

Notice in front one of the Kasper children humorously gunslinging a wicked camera set-up that he knew how to use.

From here, we ran to the south of the lake to see if the Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers were still in the little pasture; but only horses were now in the pasture for a shorebird bust.

It was already time for lunch, so we curled around to Boondock's and grabbed general good grub for the masses. In the meantime, we kept birding the Mascoutin gull roost (which provided some lovely views of Bonaparte's Gulls), had a nice fly-by Caspian Tern, an FOY Barn Swallow, and a fantastic Rusty Blackbird show. About four to five birds literally perched on our heads and in our faces while doing their whistle yet while also singing -- not something one hears very often. Here are a couple o' Rusty pics:

We had a couple more departures at this point. The rest of the crew then explored the south side by hiking down to the end of the road from the Peninsula Day Use Area. Here we added many breeding plumaged Horned Grebes, a Common Loon, Ruddy Ducks, and this spectacular surprise found by Wes Sadler  -- a Scarlet Tanager:

I don't know if there have been early Tanagers since Bohlen's book; but this bird would tie Bohlen's record early date of April 13 set in 1930 in Urbana. On top of the record status, this bird foraged almost with impunity around us, for long, delicious viewing.

Here is a pic of Ben Guo (to the left) and Nick Minor among others drinking this bird in:

The parties separated here, and team Fraker (me, Wes Sadler, Ted Wolff, Shanin Abreu, and Gary Jahnke) decided to headhunt ourselves to 80 species on the way back to Chenoa, snagging a Eurasian Collared Dove, Rock Pigeons, and a singing House Finch in Lexington to put us at 79 species for the day.

But when does the field trip truly end? I'm the leader, right?

After fun goodbyes all around, I powered over to the Fraker Farm to check on my cats and our impoundments, which I had not seen since the storms came through. I was optimistic, seeing as every farm field for miles remained flooded.

The Farm was perfect tonight -- crystal clear broken cool Spring skies with huggable temps. I attended to my cats and my feeders, and then drove around to the south entrance and hiked in to find...

...impoundments at capacity! Man -- it's been a long while since that. I thought I could tell how far back the water went; but then I kept seeing Teal land "in the pasture" which was clearly water waaaay back. It was fantastic. There were probably 100 ducks made up of mostly Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, but also Mallard, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, a Coot and some Wood Ducks.

I enjoyed a couple of IPAs out there all by my lonesome taking the day in. If it did count, I had added Wood Duck, Barred Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Swamp Sparrow to our day list for 84.

What I KNOW counted was that we had a great day. Everyone contributed. The young birders were amazing in their energy, enthusiasm, and skills. 79 species of birds were seen. Fun was had.

And the last thing that counted?


Thanks everyone for a fantastic day in the field. Below is a simple dummy day list. If Nick or anyone has a ballpark "real numbers" eBird list please feel free to add it to this thread.

Clinton lake, De Witt, US-IL
Apr 13, 2013 1:56 PM - 1:57 PM
Protocol: Traveling
99.997 mile(s)
Comments:     This is a dummy day list and it will be deleted after I use it for
a post.
Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.5.2
79 species

Canada Goose  1
Gadwall  1
American Wigeon  1
Mallard  1
Blue-winged Teal  1
Northern Shoveler  1
Green-winged Teal  1
Redhead  1
Ring-necked Duck  1
Lesser Scaup  1
Bufflehead  1
Ruddy Duck  1
Ring-necked Pheasant  1
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Horned Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  1
American White Pelican  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern)  1
American Coot  1
Killdeer  1
Bonaparte's Gull  1
Ring-billed Gull  1
Caspian Tern  1
Rock Pigeon  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
American Kestrel  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  1
Horned Lark  1
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Winter Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  1
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  1
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  1
Smith's Longspur  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  1
Vesper Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Le Conte's Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  1
Scarlet Tanager  1     Ph /multiple observers
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Eastern Meadowlark  1
Rusty Blackbird  1
Common Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
House Finch  1
Pine Siskin  1
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  1

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13737304

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder


  • Matt Fraker
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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #1 : April 13, 2013, 09:14:42 PM »
I see that Craig Taylor and Tim Kuesel also had a Scarlet Tanager today in Jefferson Co.
"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder


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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #2 : April 13, 2013, 09:29:25 PM »
And yet somehow I miss another Fraker field trip. Oh well. Glad you guys had a nice time.

Nick Minor

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #3 : April 13, 2013, 09:34:51 PM »
Hey Matt!

As a matter o' fact, I do have lists, though I didn't count a lot of the birds seen driving around (so I'm missing MODO, par exemple). They are mostly ballpark, but they should be more real than 1 bird per spuh!

Stop 1: Longspur field: http://bit.ly/15cndTZ
Stop 2: Salt Creek/Clinton Lake Radio Tower Access (correct spot?): http://bit.ly/15cnkPw
Stop 3: Clinton Lake from Boondock's: http://bit.ly/15cniXU
Stop 4: Clinton Lake Peninsula Day Access: http://bit.ly/11bcIvK

There y'are.

It was a really great trip Matt! I'm glad we were able to get our goal bird, and the Le Conte's Sparrow, Bonaparte's Gulls, and Scarlet Tanager were just fantastic.
« : April 13, 2013, 09:39:13 PM Nick Minor »
"Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves" - Henry David Thoreau

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  • Matt Fraker
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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #4 : April 14, 2013, 07:43:24 AM »
Evan  -- are you an IOS member? Become one -- then you'll get the dilly on our trips.

Nick -- thanks for posting those lists -- close enough to give a good idea of our day.

I should also note that if you have not met Nick, he is not really two-and-a-half feet tall like he looks in the pic with Ben. He is actually kneeling there, versus taking a break from a Wizard of Oz remake...
"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder

Benjamin Guo

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #5 : April 14, 2013, 07:59:28 AM »
Here are some pics from yesterday:


Susan Szeszol

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #6 : April 14, 2013, 08:27:43 AM »
Wow! Scarlet Tanagers already!  ;D

Susan  8)
My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive Godís guidance and protection.
Saint Francis of Assisi


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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #7 : April 14, 2013, 11:07:26 AM »
Henrey has a nice pic too, wanted to share!


bill rudden

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #8 : April 14, 2013, 02:55:55 PM »
 Nice find.
« : April 14, 2013, 08:12:28 PM bill rudden »

Benjamin Murphy

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #9 : April 14, 2013, 08:03:40 PM »
Matt, looks like you guys had a great day after all even after your struggles in scouting.

Joan Norek

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Re: IOS Smith's Longspur/Central ILL Field Trip; 04/13/13
« #10 : April 15, 2013, 10:56:44 AM »
Henrey has a nice pic too, wanted to share!


Suzy, Henrey's photo is a grand shot at a bird that was so persistently in its "drop down" mode. Thanks for sharing because I only saw a part from one angle, and then another part from ...



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