On Saturday the Birdfreak Team decided to drive around Winnebago County with a “hit list” of birds to photograph. Several interesting birds have been sighted in the recent weeks: Snowy Owl, Black-legged Kittiwake, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, etc. We had seen the Snowy Owl but with a brand new lens thought it would be fun to try for a better shot.
New toy: Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens
We struck out on finding the Snowy so headed to our next location to try and find some other owls. Sugar River Forest Preserve has been a successful place in the past for owls but again, nothing! We found some birds, but nothing photographable.
Our next target area was Rock Cut State Park in hopes of finding a Northern Shrike. Success!! (But not the best photo by any means – cursed overcast sky.)
Next stop was the “big lake” (Pierce) which had a decent amount of open water and a large supply of Canada Geese and gulls. We found Herring and Ring-billed Gulls but our skill level on gull identification is terrible. Funny thing is, when we returned home we were informed a Lesser Black-backed Gull had been discovered a little while after we had left. Perhaps it wasn’t there when we were or we just completely overlooked it.
Our next stop was the quarry by the Rockford-Chicago International Airport to try and find the Kittiwake. No such luck. But we discovered some Common Goldeneyes and two Bald Eagles. Next, we were off to the nearby dump which was nostril searing yet devoid of gulls. A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched on a nearby fence.
We finished the day in the southeast part of the county at a location where four counties meet: Boone, Ogle, DeKalb, and Winnebago. Around here we found an American Kestrel that after uploading to Flickr, became our 2,000th Photo!
It was a fun way to spend a dreary winter morning.