Monday, April 10, 2006

Spring has arrived (finally!!), in Chicago and elsewhere

After a few stops and starts, it looks like Spring has finally begun here in Chicago. There has been a big push of migrants down in Florida as well, so those warblers are on their way.

This weekend was still pretty damn cold up here in Chicago. I spent the weekend in Bloomington, Indiana, where along with my non-birding responsibilities, I tried to pad my Indiana list a bit. Didn't really see much in the limited time available, but I did check out some nice habitat at Fairfax S.R.A. on Lake Monroe. It was almost as cold in Bloomington as it was in Chicago, a front had gone thru on Thursday/early Friday, complete with 2-inch hail, and a high of 77 degrees was followed by frost warnings and temps in the upper 30s.

We headed home and got back in time to watching the Cubs crush the Cardinals (cold). One of the few birds I truly hate.

This morning, there was a lot of bird activity around my building. Since there are no nesting species on my block, anything I hear (other than the usual urban bird chatter) is going to be a "good" bird. This time of year, I can gauge migration on my way to the bus or to catch a cab, even without my binoculars. There was enough activity this morning that even my heavy metal-damaged eardrums could pick up a lot of new songs. There were warblers and sparrows making noise, but I had to run off to work and all I could definitively pick out over the din of the lingering Red-winged Blackbirds were a few Yellow-rumps. Hopefully I will get back soon enough tonight to see what hung around my "yard" all day.

This will be a strange migration for me, since it will be the first migration since I started birding 10 years ago that will see me outside of Chicago for a significant period of time. I always try to avoid foreign birding trips during late April and early May, but this year work obligations and the resulting reorganization of some birding trips may force me to miss four entire May weekends.

The tragedy!!!

I am actually a little sad, but at least I will be in some birdy places. My trip to La (and my planned IBWO mini-excursion in the Pearl) has been cancelled, replaced by a week or two? three?) in the St. Louis area. Now, that might sound like a poor trade, but for an Illinois birder/lister from Chicago, a week or two in mid- to late-April in far Southern Illinois is a really great opportunity. Right now there are two potential "gettable" state birds for me in that area; I have most of the "southern specials" in Illinois, but there are two great vagrants down there right now that I have never seen in Illinois. And some of those "southern specials" (Painted Bunting, Mississippi Kite) are so cool that I will probably be forced to see them even if they aren't state ticks. The Monterey trip is up in the air right now, it might end up being cancelled, or pushed back into May. Decisions, decisions.

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