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: Upland Sandpipers  ( 990 )

Eric Walters

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Upland Sandpipers
« : August 01, 2012, 09:49:41 PM »
When I was young new birder, one species I eagerly sought and expected to find was an Upland Sandpiper.  Perhaps this expectation came from the Morton Arboretum bird finding guide, which indicated they had occured in the Arboretum farmland borders.  I should have paid attention to the small print, the point they hadnít been found in a few decades.

Sure, over the years I had multiple views of Uppies in the IBSP South Prairie and Fermi Lab (before the 1990 invasion of coyotes quickly destroyed their presence).  And I did see one downstate at Prairie Ridge SP, standing in the middle of the road.  The Glenview Naval Air Station, prior to their destroying much of the habitat there, was my only confirmed view of a family group.  However, the few sightings over the decades were always of distant birds or ones that quickly disappeared into the grassy fields.

That all changed in the last half of this July, as I stumbled into 7 Uppies in 5 counties (where I had never recorded them before). 

I also had a view of another one down at the McLean sod farm.  This isnít necessarily noteworthy since others were finding family groups.  However, I did see mine all the way at the south-central side of the grassy location, well south of the house and abutting the corn field. Perhaps another spot to look if one hasnít found them where theyíve been seen earlier this year.  After all these years, I finally got to see one in McLean.

The recently reported McHenry County sod farms threesome (2 ad/1 juv) pranced around just a short stone throw from my car window, allowing me to take a number of photos.  But those photos didn't compare with ones later in the day....

I was able to bump into another Uppie in a small open grassy area in front of a Lee/Ogle County business.  It soon flew north and about an hour later, I found another bird in Ogle in a dirt edge to a muddy/grassy spot.  It was preening itself there and I have a strong suspicion this was the same migrant bird I had seen the prior hour (still was amazing to me to refind an Uppie when it had taken decades to get a good view of one).  I had always wondered where I might find an Uppie in Ogle.  Here it was:

Upland Sandpiper (Ogle-Lee County) on July 28th, 2012 by Eric Walters, on Flickr

However, by far the most exciting Upland Sandpiper find was in Logan County, back on the afternoon of July 15th.  I was just driving along the main busy highway and I couldnít believe my eyes when I saw what I was sure was an Uppie on a telephone wire next to this busy highway!  After all these years of Uppies running AWAY from me, I now was getting them frockling in front of me, including posing above me.  I turned around and parked and soon found out why this adult was acting so oddly.  There was a juvenile calling in the soybean vegetation fairly close to this busy highway.  A confirmed nesting, only my second one Iíve found, and in a most unexpected place! 

This adult was just trying to make sure its young wouldnít get to close to the road, where it would surely perish.  Not only did I get to see an Uppie from as close as any in my life, but it also allowed me great photo ops (despite the terrible lighting).  For the first time, I even noticed feather markings I never knew before, which are easily seen in the below photos (including quite dark upper wing coverts).  I really love my flight feather photo, especially since I was adding over 2 stops of light and had to up the ISO just to have a chance at freezing the wings.  I never would have gotten this shot just shooting via the camera settings or even if I hadnít quickly figured out the adjustments to the extreme light situation. 

From the field reports, it appears obvious that Al Stoke/Andy Sigler came across this same adult bird a few days later... and its possible this family group is still present.  I would agree with AS team that a Logan County Upland Sandpiper is a feather in oneís county listing hat.

Hereís the Uppie on the tele wire (calling to its young in the vegetation below), then in flight (with the dark part of its upper wing feathers obvious) and the Ďfrození flight feather shot.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did then and even continue to do so now:

UplandUpland Sandpiper, Logan County, July 15th, 2012Sandpiper07152012LoganCo3 by Eric Walters, on Flickr

Upland Sandpiper, Logan County, July 15th, 2012 by Eric Walters, on Flickr

UplandSandUpland Sandpiper, Logan County, July 15th, 2012piper07152012LoganCounty2 by Eric Walters, on Flickr

Eric Walters
Zion, IL

Benjamin Murphy

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Re: Upland Sandpipers
« #1 : August 02, 2012, 05:10:29 PM »
Awesome shots and report!  I'm glad you were able to see one in McLean County!  Uplands are a very special Illinois bird!  I was happy to get my lifer at M & M Turf in McLean County this year!



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