The IOS Spring Birding Weekend (May 15 – 17) was a terrific weekend of birding on the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois. The event was planned and organized by Urs Geiser using the Chestnut Mountain Resort for accommodations.
For the field trips we split into groups and birded Lost Mound Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi Palisades State Park, Spring Lake, Ayers Sand Prairie, Thompson Causeway and Lock & Dam 13. We birded the grounds of the Chestnut Mountain Resort and watched nighthawks from the back deck. We birded along roadsides and even checked for warblers in a pine stand at a trailer dump station. (It wouldn’t be a real birding trip without a dump or sewage pond would it?) Bugs? Not too many. Rain? A few showers. But mostly it was dry and birdy.
A preliminary tally puts us at 150 species of birds for the weekend including some real treats like Brewster’s Warbler, Cerulean Warblers, Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, Eastern Whip-poor-wills, a singing Winter Wren, and at least three endangered species including Loggerhead Shrike, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Common Gallinule. We were serenaded on and off all day to migrant and nesting warblers as well as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles and other species. We relished every look at the magnificent American White Pelicans gliding overhead and Bald Eagles soaring or perched in trees.
We particularly want to thank Urs Geiser for all the work of planning and organizing the weekend, The stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge for escorting and leading our groups into the restricted portion of the Lost Mound Refuge, and Dan Williams, Matt Fraker, Bob Fisher and Urs Geiser for leading field trips.
Special thanks go to all the IOS members who attended and lent their sharp eyes and ears to the group effort as well as sharing their good humor and boundless curiosity and interest in all things natural history.