Visible Migration on the Illinois River

I was at Hennepin Lake bright and early, and well wrapped up as I scanned from the observation tower. The forecast wind hadn't picked up yet and it was a beautiful morning. Flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Blue Jays were passing my nose and I just wasn't expecting the hundreds of White Pelicans flying down the Illinois River basin from the north! Raptors were putting in an appearance with Sharp-shinned Hawk annoying the local Blue Jays and Starlings, Coopers Hawk and three Northern Harriers but the waders were the birds I was drawn to.

The conditions were so much better than yesterday so I could get reasonable identifiable views. Apart from around 300 peeps of some description, there were a few American Golden Plover, two Buff-breasted Sandpipers, single Lesser Yellowlegs, a few Pectoral Sands and a Godwit which I think must have been Marbled as it dwarfed the Ring-billed Gull next to it (well you know what I mean). I had picked it up on my first scan and vowed to return to it but it and the Goldies had gone! Grrrrr! There was a good selection of duck - both Teals, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard and a single Black Duck - but all still in eclipse plumage.
Rough-winged Swallows passed by the tower whilst hundreds of Tree Swallows hawked low over the marsh. I could have stayed there longer, especially if the tower was a bit closer to the birds and the wind wasn't picking up.
American White Pelicans coming in to land
I headed further down the 26 to try and find a place to overlook Sechanwine Lake and found a spot overlooking a large flock of resting Pelicans - the flock was constantly being augmented with new arrivals as others departed. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Willow Flycatcher all added some variety.

Next it was Puttnam Conservation area there were thousands of Tree Swallows and a couple of Barn Swallows over the water but also lots of hunters and fishermen - "Conservation Area" has a bit of a double meaning over here.

So the rest of the morning I spent at Miller-Anderson Woods. It was quiet at first but patience revealed a nice selection of Warblers including two Golden-winged, Nashville, Black-throated Green, Black & White, Blackpoll, Magnolia and Tenessee Warblers. There were Red-eyed and Philidelphia Vireos, Brown Creeper, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Wood Pewee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse. However, even all that lot was overshodowed by two migrating Broad-winged Hawk 'flocks' passing over the car park totalling 60 birds. Wow!


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