Since I worked last Saturday, I got a 3 day "weekend" this week, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. My big plan was to explore Emiquon nature preserve and hopefully see a lot of birds. That, of course, was before I saw the weather forecast for near-100F temperatures. I waffled about whether to go or not, but decided I might as well give it a shot.
I took Kaylin to school and headed to Emiquon. I stopped briefly at Banner Marsh on my way, but there wasn't much bird activity on the lake. Today was the opening day of dove season and there appeared to be many hunters so I didn't get out of my car. I pulled into Emiquon and everything appeared still. I got out and started hiking the walking trail and saw all kinds of shorebirds. Sandpipers were everywhere. Killdeer were so plentiful they seemed to outnumber insects. Great blue herons and great egrets mingled with mallards, wood ducks and mergansers. Terns circled and swooped. Flocks of swallows skimmed the water and migrating blackbirds and starlings filled the trees. It was hot, but there was a nice breeze and the trip was totally worthwhile.
I moved on to Chautauqua and was disappointed that my hundreds (or thousands) of white pelicans were replaced by gulls. There were plenty of killdeer with occasional unidentified sandpipers mixed in. The dead fish from a few weeks ago were now piles of much less smelly bones. I wished I had a video camera with a great zoom because the killdeer running around on the fish skeletons were morbidly funny. There was no shade and despite downright windy conditions, the sun was harsh and the temperature was well above 90F. I didn't stay too long, but just as I was starting to walk back to my car a flock of ~20 pelicans flew right over my head. That definitely made the trip worthwhile. Oh, I also saw a group of turkey vultures on the ground and got excited thinking one of them was a black vulture because it had an all black head. When it took off flying it had the signature turkey vulture white band along the wings so I'll have to look up if juveniles have black heads? Interesting...
I drove through Sand Ridge State Forest on my way home, but it was noon and nearly 100F and nothing was out and about. I decided to skip Spring Lake this trip and instead went to the new Big R store in Pekin. It was sort of a cross between Farm and Fleet and Gander Mountain, with prices closer to Gander Mountain. It was an ok store, but Farm and Fleet is better.
I've got a meet the teacher open house at Logan's school tonight, an amphibian conservation talk at the zoo and then a cookout tomorrow night and otherwise plan to spend the rest of my time off cleaning the house. We'll see if that actually happens. :)