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Birding the Illinois River Trail: April 26, 2008
Pete Fenner hosted a field trip along the Illinois River Trail in East Peoria on a very brisk Saturday morning on April 26, 2008. Temperatures started out at 41 °F and we had winds gusting to about 25 mph to add to the chill. But the warmth and camaraderie of several hardy birders helped keep the spirits high. And for this special event, we were joined by two avid birders from the UK who were in the Peoria area to cheer us on.
The trip started along the boardwalk at the Carl Spindler Marina in East Peoria, Illinois. The boardwalk lead across a marshy area to a little woodland, and the river. The area is owned and managed by the Fon du Lac (East Peoria) Park District. Even though this strip of land is narrow, we were welcomed by more than 40 species. And, one of our guests from Wales, added 6 life birds in a couple of hours.
Dennis, humble webmaster for Peoria Audubon, took a few photos to remember the event.
Comments are always welcome!
Entrance to Boardwalk from Spindler Marina Parking Lot
Purple Martin and Palm Warbler
A purple martin house was by the boat ramp with a few martins that appeared to be soaking up some warmth from the morning sun. The birding group went out on a small point by the boat ramp and were treated viewing the above Palm Warbler.
In the early morning lighting, and with the blue from the Illinois River in the background even the common red-winged blackbird made an interesting photo.
Song Sparrow in Warmth of Early Morning Light
Several yellow-rumped warblers were flitting about in the morning light by the entrance to the boardwalk.
As we walked down the boardwalk, a white-throated sparrow briefly came out of the dark shadows to briefly rest on a reed in the direct sunshine. With the cool temperatures, the birds seemed eager to soak up a little warmth.
As we walked along the boardwalk, just before the "most marshy" area, a small deer almost seemed to be stuck in the swamp. As we watched it raise its feet, it looked like it was sinking 4-6 inches down into the swampy muck. The river pool stage was still high at about 16 feet. This raised the water level about 4 feet above the normal summer pool of 12 feet. With our birding group immediately east of the deer and the Illinois River to the immediate west, the deer almost looked trapped in the narrow sliver of park land.
Tree Swallow Soaking up Sunshine
From the boardwalk, we watched two tree swallows soak up some morning sunshine. They seemed to be spreading their wings to maximize the warmth from the sun. They perched on the branches for several minutes which allowed for casual viewing and snapping a few good images.
On the boardwalk, as we approached the "swampiest" part of the park, Pete stated that if we were lucky, we might be able to see a prothonotary warbler. Indeed, we were very lucky, for not only did we get to see one, but we got to watch it for perhaps 15 minutes. It was busy flitting about, just above the water level looking for its breakfast.
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