There’s nothing quite like a local bird club field trip. It is a great way to talk birds with fellow birders and help find birds as a group. This past Saturday we participated in the first of the season’s NCIOS bird club field trip. Oh, and I happened to be the leader.
We headed out to the Jane Addams Trail located near Freeport, Illinois. This nearly 13 mile trail runs north/south from the middle of nowhere to the Wisconsin border. It is an old railroad right-of-way turned into a multi-use trail that connects with at least three other major trail systems (some of which are still being developed).
The walking is easy and the path is accommodating for a group of birders but the vegetation including large trees is close to the trail edges and gives a bit of a claustrophobic form of birding for a non-narrow trail. Thus, getting everyone on a bird was difficult and many of the sightings were fleeting as the birds crossed back and forth and disappeared.
We did manage several wonderful sightings: Sandhill Cranes flying closely over, two Philadelphia Vireos, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Cooper’s Hawk chasing Cedar Waxwings, and two soaring Bald Eagles. We only managed one warbler, a female American Redstart.
Stacia had a wonderful time despite the flurry of mosquitoes and the under-performing birds. The Bald Eagle sighting was especially cool since I’ve been promising we’d find one in the area. These types of hikes (with or without me as the leader) are perfect for newer birders. Birders in our area (and most everywhere) love to share knowledge and help others learn. I’m still surprised when people look to me to know bird sounds or identify a bird by a photo but I always love to share what I know. The quickest way to help a new birder is just to pour your brain out and together enjoy all natural observations.