I've been birding pretty much every weekend and had decided to take this weekend off, but then Friday night Logan asked me to take him birding on Saturday morning. And he was willing to leave early! Seriously, people, how could I turn down my only son?! We loaded up Logan's bike and headed to Banner Marsh. It was 7am when we arrived and we stayed and stayed. We hit the East entrance first and the little pond on the way to the boat ramp was full of teal and greater and lesser yellowlegs. Herons and egrets were everywhere and Logan got his first really good look at a belted kingfisher. We then hit the Bell's Landing area and found the usual mute swans along with hundreds and hundreds of migrating white pelicans. It was very windy and cool (and still early) and we didn't see any small birds.
We moved on to Emiquon where we found a wider variety of ducks along with thousands of gulls and pelicans. Logan rode his bike while I scoped the grass. It was too windy and the only small birds I found were tree swallows. We headed to the area back by Dickson Mounds and found Crabtree Creek absolutely covered with pelicans. The water was really low and the fish were flopping around and thousands of pelicans were feasting. It was really interesting to see so many gigantic birds on such a relatively small body of water. I've seen the North Pool of Chautauqua covered in pelicans, but this was somehow even more impressive. Logan took the steep path down to the creek where he "rescued" beached fish and picked up mussel shells. I chose to protect my feet and walked along the levee and spotted several warblers in the surrounding trees. I had to stop and use my guide book to identify them all, but it was really cool to unexpectedly pick up a few year birds in a place I never would have thought to stop if it hadn't been teeming with pelicans.
We moved on to Chautauqua. Lake Chautauqua is still drained, but the North Pool had a good number of (shocker!) pelicans. We then headed home because although today (Sunday) is Gene's birthday, we were celebrating Saturday while we were all off work/school. I can't even begin to describe how happy it makes me that my boy actually enjoys driving all over rural Illinois looking for birds! We were gone 6 1/2 hours and he was excited about everything we'd seen and had a blast.
We arrived home to find Gene fixing the dryer and Kaylin playing with the neighbor girls. We had discussed many possibilities, but decided to go to the zoo to see the baby tigers. They are most active between 3pm and 5pm, so we arrived around 3. The tiger cubs put on a good show and we toured the rest of the zoo and the kids played on the climbing wall. We hit the gift shop and then the kids collected a bunch of buckeyes in the park. Why? No idea. I guess so they can get moldy in Kaylin's closet again. We stopped at Sweet CeCe's for frozen yogurt and headed home to open Gene's birthday presents.
Fortunately, Gene bought himself a real birthday present a couple of weeks ago. He got a new laptop he loves. No one should feel sorry for what Kaylin and I found for him :) Gene likes soup spoons. He especially likes the plastic soup spoons found at the Qdoba restaurant, where he has been known to take more than perhaps his fair share. I found a pack of 50 golden plastic soup spoons at Amazon. I showed Kaylin and we got excited. I mean, how can one pass up GOLDEN plastic soup spoons??? I then found an entire case of 1000 boring white plastic soup spoons. We decided to order both. Gene opened the golden spoons first and was amused. He then opened a wiener dog cord wrangler and was amused. He then opened the case of 1000 soup spoons and seemed completely overwhelmed. The rest of us laughed and laughed. Gene decided to take his case of soup spoons to work where he is moving to a new area and his new cubicle mates can talk behind his back about why on earth he has an entire case of soup spoons? Yeah, I normally frown upon how wasteful plastic cutlery is. In this case, I couldn't help myself. I will have to work hard at saving energy and water and recycling and reusing more, etc., to make up for this abuse. My bad.