02 de março de 2020

March update

Two months in, and the total stands at 283, well behind the 360 that a 6 species/day pace requires. But given that all of the Lake County records I could find for January and February totaled only 200, I'll take it, relying on summer bugs to start making up the difference. On that note, sunny skies and SW winds brought very nice temps today (March 1), and with them, a few flies and a midge (that one didn't get photographed) to go along with the mosses and lichens that have been the easiest things to look for recently. A few migrants have started back into the area, with Red-winged Blackbirds scattered across the landscape like scouts for the main force. The last day of February did bring a couple of surprising birds, including a Merlin headed north at their usual frantic migration pace, and a very vocal Tufted Titmouse, always a difficult bird to find in most of the county.

Publicado em 02 de março de 2020, 02:04 AM por psweet psweet | 2 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

06 de fevereiro de 2020

One month in (or thereabouts)

Moving into February, somehow I'm still ahead of the 6 species per day pace needed. But the inevitable slowdown hit around the middle of January. The easy species come quickly, but once you've added Canada Geese and Mallard, you have to look that much harder. Still, as of February 5, the count is at 231, with a few things I'm hoping for help on -- that's pretty much a given, I think. A few previous engagements have also slowed things down, most notably 3 days out of the county for the Starved Rock Bald Eagle days, and of course the start of the spring semester 3 weeks ago.

Some of the more interesting recent observations, to my thinking, are the small shrew I photographed yesterday at Rollins' Savanna (dead, unfortunately, just like most of my shrew photos), the Illinois Bundleflower and Narrow-leaved Cattail at College of Lake County, and the Eastern Screech-Owl that likes to greet visitors at Illinois Beach SP.

I really should give a big thanks to everyone who takes the time to help ID things -- both for the site as a whole, and for my project here. The site wouldn't be nearly as impactful without the time spent looking at everyone else's stuff.

Publicado em 06 de fevereiro de 2020, 01:13 AM por psweet psweet | 4 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

14 de janeiro de 2020

Big Year 2-week point.

The first 100 species came in 5 days -- in the 10 days since, I've added 58. This is expected, of course. This time of year, there isn't much new stuff arriving or popping up, so as the easy ones go, all you're left with is critters you need to work for. Still, some of the holes have filled in -- some easy birds like starlings, bluebirds, and robins, and some of the more recognizable trees. I've decided, though, that a lot of the trees are going to wait until they have leaves. (and hopefully acorns for the oaks!)

A couple of nice finds on the bird front this week, though -- Sunday, after a 3-week absence, a female Harlequin Duck was back at Waukegan Harbor. This is a species that usually shows up somewhere on the lakefront in the winter, but not always in Lake County. And today, a Northern Shrike popped up at Raven Glen West Forest Preserve -- these guys are irregular winter visitors. There's always a few around, but they wander across large territories, and they don't like to pose for pictures. Some years they come down in greater numbers, but this year they didn't.

I checked Illinois Beach SP today -- anyone hoping to come up and visit should probably wait a while. (Hopefully just a few weeks....) Right now, the Dead River Trail is part of the Dead River, and our Grass-Pink hollow is part of the river backwater. The boardwalk heading out to the beach was 4 inches underwater, by the ice left on it, although at least that water level has fallen, and the trail out to the beach is blocked by water at the gravel trail. You can see far enough to realize that there's water covering much of the sand prairie behind the beach as well. Even in the North Unit, the parking lots by the beach are inaccessible due to flooding.

While I'm writing this, I want to give some credit where it's due -- the main reason I can even contemplate this crazy Big Year project is the hard work done by both the IDNR -- they manage Illinois Beach, Chain of Lakes, and Volo Bog -- and the Lake County Forest Preserve. They've managed to preserve a wonderful selection of natural landscapes throughout the county, and do a wonderful job of managing them, both for conservation and for public access. Without them, at the rate that we're seeing subdivisions and shopping malls crop up out here, there wouldn't be anywhere worth looking.

Publicado em 14 de janeiro de 2020, 11:51 PM por psweet psweet | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

06 de janeiro de 2020

First 100 species!

Today involved some stuff in southern Lake County, specifically Ryerson Forest Preserve (Lake County's only extensive Sugar Maple and Basswood forest), Heller Nature Center, and Independence Grove Forest Preserve. The highlight of the day was also the first observation of the day -- a Pileated Woodpecker! (For those birders out there thinking "so what, they're in my back yard every other day", this species is surprisingly difficult to find in Lake County, IL. This was only my third, in 35 years of birding the area -- in the same Forest Preserve as the first one, back in the late 90's.)

Other finds at Ryerson included a melanistic Gray Squirrel (finally!), Eastern Black Walnut, and the first Protozoa of the year, Chocolate Tube Slime. Moving onto Heller, I was pleased to find offspring of the Red and Eastern White Pines planted there years ago. But the bird feeders weren't drawing much, I don't know if the feeders were empty on this Sunday, or if the warm weather isn't forcing the birds to visit.

At Independence Grove, finally some ducks, although the lake's big enough to make photography difficult. The surprising thing there was a near-adult Bald Eagle flying overhead. The bridge across the Des Plaines River has a surprisingly diverse and dense lichen flora on the rails -- definitely worth a look for anyone visiting.

Yesterday involved a couple of my favorite spots in the county -- Volo Bog SNA, and Gander Mt. Forest Preserve. Didn't find anything remarkable, but the typical finds at Volo Bog this time of year include Tamarack, Winterberry Holly, and Poison Sumac. Admittedly, having half the boardwalk closed pending repairs is a bit of a downer, but at least we can reach the middle of the bog. Gander Mountain was good for a number of shelf mushrooms, but my favorite part of the place is the insects -- not the best yield in January in NE Illinois.

Overall right now, 108 species, including 36 plants, 32 fungi, 29 birds, 4 insects, 3 mammals, one annelid, one mollusk, and one protistan.

Publicado em 06 de janeiro de 2020, 12:18 AM por psweet psweet | 1 observações | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

03 de janeiro de 2020

Lakefront finds

2 days of photographing along the lakefront has the total up to 66, including 22 plants, 19 fungi (perhaps more -- many of them just go in as fungi sp.), 19 birds, 3 insects, 2 mammals, and one mollusk. None of these have been surprises, although I think one of the lichens is a new one for me. Still missing a few obvious things, though -- I haven't had a deer or either squirrel pose for photos, yet! And ducks have been surprisingly difficult to find so far -- I'll have to find the time to visit Independence Grove this weekend.

Three things seem odd, or at least out of season -- I've had a beetle, a fly, and a plant actually in flower. I've seen these blow flies by our garage on warm, sunny winter days before, so I guess it's not out of the question. And the flowers come from American Hazelnut, which apparently normally flowers this time of year. I have to wonder what pollinates it.

Publicado em 03 de janeiro de 2020, 11:57 PM por psweet psweet | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

02 de janeiro de 2020

Crazy idea -- iNat big year, day 1

Somehow I ended up with the crazy idea of trying to find 2,000 species in one county this year. (That would be Lake County, IL, since I live here.) I'm curious to find out if it's possible, and in a more general sense, at what point is the outcome of such a project contingent upon the observer's available time rather than the actual biodiversity of the area. Doing the math shows an average of 5.47 species per day will do it. (That would be just a bit higher next year, since 2020 is a leap year.)

Day 1, of course, would be New Year's, and that's the date of the Waukegan CBC. So a long walk around St. Mary's Seminary, trying to focus just on the birds while ignoring lichens, liverworts, etc. Still, between there, MacArthur Woods, and a quick check of N. Pt. Marina, the year started off fine, with 24 species. The most notable find of the day for this project was the Greater White-fronted Goose, a bird that I often go several years in a row without seeing in the county.

Publicado em 02 de janeiro de 2020, 03:43 AM por psweet psweet | 1 observações | 4 comentários | Deixar um comentário

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