24 October 2008

Exploring Illinois

The Rock River was the first thing I saw after waking up in Illinois. The river was running strong as a few fishermen lazily fought against the flow. The brushy area by the river is where I picked up my first life bird of the trip, White-throated Sparrow. It was hanging out with a few other sparrow species jumping up and down through the vegetation. I couldn't have asked for a better morning.

Once everyone was awake we headed over to the Lorado Taft Field Campus where my friend Heather works as an environmental educator. The campus is found at the Rock River's edge in Lowden State Park. The park was once an artist colony called the Eagle's Nest. Lorado Taft built the statue you see above known as the Black Hawk Statue or the Eternal Indian. It's 50 feet tall and quite a sight on the edge of this river.

The Taft Campus is really set up well for birding. The staff stocks the many feeders found throughout the property. I could see many common species feeding including White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Black-capped Chickadee.

The most impressive lifer of my trip was by far the Brown Creeper. The Taft campus gave me many looks at this small bird. I don't travel much out of the Southeast so I added not only this bird but also the Black-capped Chickadee to my list for the weekend.

After a couple hours of hiking through dried stream beds and meadows the group split in half. Heather and I continued down to the river's edge. The sun was setting and providing wonderful colors to peak through the leaves. I had a wonderful time in the Midwest with my friends. The rivers, the birds, and the people I met will be remembered for a long time.

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