If you want to build up your Illinois state list, you really have to head south. Fish Crow, Black Vulture, Purple Gallinule, Mississippi Kite, Barn Owl, Swainson's Warbler...they're all in Southern Illinois pretty much every year. I haven't been down south in a few years because I have pretty much seen all of the regularly occurring specialties, and it's a hell of a drive from Chicago. (I put exactly 400 miles on the car today.) So I save my trips for the mega-rarities that are found pretty regularly.
I will be staying in the East St. Louis area for about two weeks on a work assignment. This will give me time to chase a few rarities, see a few of the local breeders, and generally get a jump-start on migration.
So here we go...
STATE BIRD=Cinnamon Teal! On Wednesday I flew into St. Louis for a quick one-day trip, in preparation for my longer trip. I was lucky enough to bird the beautiful marshes near Gateway International Raceway:
See the Arch in the background? That proves I was in East St. Louis! That photo is taken with my back to the marsh. Here's the marsh itself:
I almost missed the teal because the light was bad and I didn't have my scope with me. But, it was still there, close enough to see with binoculars. Hoo-rah, I don't get too many state birds these days. But I am going to try for at least one more: Burrowing Owl.