Southern Illinois (Alexander Co.): Marbled Godwit, Worm-eating Warbler...
- Steve Ambrose and I spent most of Sunday in Alexander County and
finished our day at the Union County Conservation Area. We birded
from sunrise to sunset and tallied 103 species. Temps were 91 degrees
with a heat index of 98. We spent the cooler hours in the open fields
of East Cape Girardeau and the hottest part of the day in the so
called "Santa Fe Hills" around Fayville.
In East Cape Girardeau there is still a great presence of shorebirds
along RT 146. We found 14 species of shorebirds with BLACK-NECKED
STILTS (70+) and MARBLED GODWIT (1) being the most exciting. It seems
the fluddles are slowly but surely drying up. I could only imagine
what it looked like along Ditch Rd a month ago. We had our only
perched MISSISSIPPI KITES (3) of the day in Cape Girardeau, MO.
Overall we had roughly 25+ Mississippi Kites hunting in the sky.
After a while we just stopped counting! As others have reported,
there are hundreds of GREAT BLUES, GREAT EGRETS, SNOWIES, and LITTLE
BLUES stretching from the Union County Conservation area to Horseshoe
Lake. To our surprise, we had a total of 8 BALD EAGLES (all
individual counts; 3 in the Santa Fe Chute and 5 at Union County
Conserv. Area). Other raptors include COOPER'S HAWK, NORTHERN
HARRIER, and RED-TAILED (all along East Cape).
Just south of Thebes and north of Fayville we found very nice pockets
of songbirds with a good number of warblers among them. A lot of
these birds must have been migrants as they were concentrated
together and feeding methodically. We had 12 species of warblers with
WORM-EATING, HOODED, NORTHERN PARULA, YELLOW-THROATED, CANADA, and
KENTUCKY being some of the most notable for us "northerners". We got
killer looks at 3 Worm-eating Warblers. We were dazzled by 2 BARRED
OWLS that put on a show in broad daylight. I found myself having to
dodge an EASTERN-SCREECH OWL that perched about 15 ft from us, out in
the open, at eye level! Steve took some awesome pictures to make sure
this one bird would be immortalized. Other birds of note are both
BLACK-BILLED and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, SUMMER TANAGER, PILEATED
WOODPECKER (2), BLUE GROSBEAK (3) and a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were literally all over and COMMON
NIGHTHAWKS(10+) emerged just as the sun began to set.
Birds that were missed include MALLARD, RING-BILLED GULL, SONG
SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. A Few of
these could have been missed simply because we weren't in the right
place at the right time. It's just amazing to me since these birds
are found in every household in the NE part of the state. Conversely,
birds that we saw/heard in abundance include WHITE-EYED VIREO,
CAROLINA WREN and TUFTED TITMOUSE.
A sincere thanks to those who helped with directions and advice
(especially Bob Fisher and Rhonda Rothrock). Now let's get on with