Dakota’s birthday wish was to go on a big camping trip. So we decided to spend five nights at Sugar River Forest Preserve here in Winnebago County, Illinois.
During our stay, the Sugar River was still cresting from all the rain we had and by Saturday it had spilled over into the main preserve. We walked into the park to check it out. Some of the park roads were completely covered in water and most trails were inaccessible.
Part of the main forest preserve road.
Even though our main “big hikes” were out, we still found plenty of birds and Dakota found additional turtles and frogs as well. Our total bird list was less than 40 species, most likely because we were so limited on where we could go.
This turtle was happily sunning despite all the water.
We were able to see quite an aerial show by the water. There were Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Eastern Wood-Pewees having a bug feast. The Cedar Waxwings were doing crazy insect-catching displays that would make a flycatcher jealous. It was incredible to watch them. We also saw some shorebirds enjoying the flooded grass.
Our campsite was more birdy than any I can remember. It was a good site with many pine trees, a small field nearby, and not many camping neighbors. We heard Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls at night, as well as some raucous Coyotes. During the day we saw Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Common Yellowthroats, a Cooper’s Hawk, American Crows, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Phoebes, Song Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows. All this, without leaving the camp chair!
The average trip weather was hot, humid, and buggy. Most of the trails were closed due to flooding and we had two storms, one on Saturday night and one on Monday night. Despite it all we had a great time birding for Dakota’s birthday.