Monday, July 26, 2010
Pelicans and cormorants at Emiquon
Yesterday Greenturtle and I went to the Illinois River Valley area in Fulton County to look for black-necked stilts. I knew that some had been seen in the area, and that would be an Illinois State Bird for me (I have seen them in Texas and Hawaii, never in Illinois), which seemed like a good enough excuse to go on a Bird Trip. Especially at this time of year, when breeding season is winding down but migration is still a good month away, I love to find ways to keep the birding spirit alive.
We went to Emiquon, which is a lovely restored wetland north of the town of Havana. Some of it is owned by the Nature Conservancy and part of it is a National Wildlife Refuge. Since we weren't sure if we needed permits to explore the privately owned, Nature Conservancy part, we concentrated our efforts on the NWR portion, namely, the part along the road leading to the Dickson Mound Museum.
At our first stop, Greenturtle decided to try some fishing, while I walked around and looked for birds. I saw a pileated woodpecker flying past, which was exciting, as it was the first time I saw one in Illinois this year. (A Year State bird, for those who share my listing sickness. Not a Year Bird, saw one in Arkansas, and not a State Bird...but the first time I saw one in Illinois in 2010. Plus, I love pileated woodpeckers. I think I'd get excited even if I saw one every week.)
There were also some dickcissels and meadowlarks, indigo buntings. After the pileated, the birding wasn't that great, and Greenturtle wasn't having much luck fishing, so we traveled on down the road.
The next area where the wetlands spread out in a lovely, shimmering expanse, we saw American white pelicans and double-crested cormorants, maybe 100 and 200 respectively. I set up my spotting scope and felt that I could have watched them forever... (Also got a good view of a belted kingfisher.)
I really love pelicans, and these were nice and healthy. I wish they didn't have to migrate because I'm so worried about what will happen when/if they get to the Gulf...but for the time being, it was just enchanting to see them in such numbers.