Sunday, June 19, 2011
I was hoping to do a Real Birding Trip today, getting up early in the morning to scour the county for as many breeding and year-round birds as possible. Alas, when I woke up, it was pouring rain....
By lunchtime it had cleared up, so I walked my dogs (first Trevor and then Raven, as they have different paces and stamina and also drive me a little crazy when I try to walk them together), wondering what I might find on a muggy summer afternoon. I kept thinking, "I wish I were birding right now instead of either trying to get my dog to stop lunging (Trevor) or coaxing my dog to walk instead of stare at everything like a big nimrod (Raven)."
I was feeling like revisiting an old favorite spot, so I decided on Sugar Grove Nature Center. It's the closest to my new home, and used to be tied for favorite spot in McLean County with Comlara State Park -- but after the wind farm invasion around Evergreen Lake, I don't even like Comlara that much any more.
On the way there, I stopped at Centennial Park in Heyworth. Not much was going on there, but it's nice and watery, which I like. The only other time I visited it, everything was frozen solid. Sure does look different now. A lot of robins and grackles, and a whole flotilla of Canada geese.
The only exciting birds were a warbling vireo, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and a pair of green herons. I didn't get very good photos, alas.
There was a lot of mullein starting to bloom, a plant with some interesting traditions. Native to Europe, it's been used to treat all sorts of ailments...and also, in a pinch, is good as toilet paper.
Lots of berries for the birds to eat:
I saw a robin going to and from its nest--unfortunately, when she was actually on her nest (I don't think any babies yet), she was nearly impossible to see, let along photograph.
Getting decent photos was a bit of a challenge, not only because of the usual reasons like lighting, foliage and birds that won't sit still, but because every time I raised up my camera, mosquitoes took advantage of the moment and used to feast upon my face.
It was also very muggy. As soon as the sun came out, all the moisture in the air from the rain felt unpleasant. It's hard to say which is more uncomfortable, birding on a hot day in the summer or a cold day in the winter. My response usually depends on whichever I am currently suffering, and I'll say I want the opposite.
I'm like that. For example, I saw a man walking two beagles and wished I was walking my dogs!
I lingered about a half an hour, then headed down 136 to Sugar Grove--kinda weird coming at it from the opposite direction. But as I'm starting to feel sleepy now, I'll save Sugar Grove for a different post.