A Day with Citizens for Conservation

Todays events had been carefully planned.  Each new year-bird would be seen at a specific time and place, with specific people.  This would be a tightly scripted manuscript and I was to be Hemingway.  It actually started out that way-kind of. The weekly volunteers work day was at Flint Creek Savanna so my brothers, Tom and Jim, and I went over early to look for migrants.  It was in the 40’s F, bitter cold for May,  but we found a pocket of oaks loaded with warblers.  No new year-birds for me but thirteen species including Bay-breasted and Blackburnian.

Flint Creek Savanna (Photos by Steve LUU)

We then joined other volunteers for one of the famous Citizens for Conservation work days.  Todays activity included invasive species control of the exotic weed Garlic Mustard.

CFC Volunteers picking Garlic Weed at Flint Creek (Photo by Steve Luu)

After two hours of work,  we went over to one of CFC’s other properties, Grigsby Prairie, in Barrington Hills.  This prairie is loaded with conservative and rare native wildflowers and has both Bobolinks and Grasshopper Sparrows.  But the wind, cold temperatures and drizzle made seeing or hearing anything difficult. We bombed out and my finally scripted manuscript for today had it’s first red marks.  We then went to Spring Creek Forest Preserve where the Henslow’s Sparrow was a forgone certainty. Nada and a second big red mark on my script, though we did finally turn up a Grasshopper Sparrow and some Bobolinks.

Grasshopper Sparrow (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

Bobolink at Spring Creek Forest Preserve (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

So without a Henslow’s Sparrow I went over to visit my Uncle, Bob Vanderpoel, in Des Plaines.  He had a great backyard for birds with a yard list of 163 species.  The plan was to watch birds, perhaps get a new flycatcher or warbler and then go get the Mute Swans at Bakers Lake.  We saw one Cardinal!  Did I say his yard list is 163 species?  Well at least we would get the Mute Swans at Bakers Lake. That was a certainty. Wrong!  My manuscript had now been shredded for kitty litter.  We at least salvaged some pride by getting Mute Swans at a staked out pond I’d been told about.

So tomorrows a new day, though the weather will be worse than today. I’m meeting my youngest brother Mark to bird Lake Michigan and Chicago.  No grandiose plans. We’ll just see what we can see.

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