The spring bird count went really well. We had a HUGE area to cover and three team members to do it, but everything went pretty much according to plan.
We started the day off checking Nygren Wetlands, a property owned by the Natural Land Institute, a wonderful local organization. Nygren is 705 acres of pristine wetlands that harbor some wonderful birds. It would take nearly all day to cover the area thoroughly, but with two other large tracts also to check, we were somewhat limited.
Highlights: loads of Soras calling, our first Common Yellowthroats of the year, White-crowned Sparrows, first Yellow Warblers of the year, Ruddy Ducks (a pleasant surprise) and a pair of Sandhill Cranes.
Next it was off to Moody Marsh, a privately owned wetland that had more Soras, Sandhill Cranes, Warbling Vireos and a Marsh Wren (among others). The weather was overcast and a bit drizzly making photography difficult. Of course, our goal was counting birds so it hardly mattered.
After the Moody Marsh “stomp” we raced over to Sugar River Forest Preserve, a gem that holds breeding Yellow-throated and Cerulean Warblers along with a slew of other wonderful birds. We hit paydirt immediately, sighting a Yellow-throated Warbler on the drive in.
Our hiking began with a flurry of mosquitoes and a flurry of birds. Our sightings went something like this:
“Calling Golden-winged *slap Warbler!”
“Blackburnian! *slap *slap to the left of that stumpy tree. *slap *slap *slap
Our warbler tally went up and up as we added Hooded, Blue-winged, Magnolia, Black-throated Green and American Redstart. The resident Red-shouldered Hawk called before it was time to move on.
For the day we totaled 17 warbler species, including (not listed above) Cerulean, Black-and-white, and both Waterthrushes.
On one of the trails we encountered an enthusiastic Pileated Woodpecker that forced us to backtrack to get a good sighting. This allowed us to find a Scarlet Tanager, the only one of the day!
We didn’t make our 100 species goal but 91 was fine with us. The only birds we truly missed were Eastern Screech, Great Horned and Barred Owls, which we could of gotten later but were too tired; Ovenbird, Swainson’s and Wood Thrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Cooper’s Hawk and empidonax flycatchers. Throw in a gull or other bird and we would of had 100. Our area would have benefited by a few more birders but our counter numbers were low this year.
It’s too bad the spring bird count only happens once a year!