The early bird gets the ... uh... the snow cone.
|Lapland Longspurs and Horned Lark graze for something to eat on a snowy frozen field near Cherry Valley, IL; 2/25/2012.|
Yestreday I blogged about a yellow-bellied Sapsucker that I saw in early February, which would be uncommon for that species to already have arrived in our territory of Northern Illinois. So today I will mention all the migrants who I have observed during the month of February, which officially was still Winter in these parts. As you can see by the picture (Above), even in a light snowfall winter, Northern Illinois still had snow on the ground in late February. Winter residents such as Lapland Longspurs, Horned Larks, American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncoes were still present for another one or two months.
Because February and March are busy months for my High School Theatre work, I don't get out birding as much as I'd like to. So with that disclaimer, other than the 2/5/12 Sapsucker other "early birds" included: Red-winged Blackbirds arrived on 2/19 (I first heard and saw them in Starved Rock State Park), then were in the Rockford area a day later. Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds also joined the Red-wings at this early date. On 2/20, I saw my first American Robins in Espenscheid Forest Preserve. Then a week later while I was cruising the farm fileds near Cherry Valley, looking for winter open field birds, such as the Longspurs and Horned Larks (Above), I heard an Eastern Meadowlark sing from a snow-covered cornfield. I scanned the fields and at first all I could spot was a small herd of White-tailed Deer (Below), until I spotted the bright yellow dot in the sunsetting light (also Below).
|A small herd of wary White-tailed deer wondering why I was watching them, Cherry Valley, IL; 2/25/2012.|
|Can you spot the eastern Meadowlark?|
|An Eastern Meadowlark eyes its potential perch, Rock Cut State Park, 3/24/2012.|
|The Eastern Meadowlark about to touch down, Rock Cut State park; 2/25/2012.|
|It makes contact ...|
|Looking proud on its perch, RCSP; 2/25/2012.|
Eventhough the pic (Above) is not the best in sharpness, I really like how the background greens and purples of the prairie and the distant trees help set off the bright yellows of the Meadowlark.
Other pics of early migrants below:
|Brown-headed Cowbird, Starved Rock State park, IL; 2/19/2012.|
|Common Grackle, Rockford, IL; 2/19/2012.|
|Red-winged Blackbird, Starved Rock State Park; 2/19/2012.|
|Great Blue Heron, Rock Cut State Park, 3/29/2012.|
The earliest Great Blue Heron I saw was from the car as I was returning to Rockford on I-39 from Starved Rock State park on 2/19. The pic (Above) was taken a month later.
|I saw my first American Robin of the year, Espenscheid Forest Preserve; 2/20/2012.|
|Sun setting behind the vapor clouds of Byron Nuclear Plant, Cherry Valley, IL; 2/25/2012.|
I can't help but include the sunset picture (Above), which I took soon after photographing the White-tailed Deeer and the Meadowlark (Top 3 pictures) from the country roads surroundng Cherry Valley, IL.