I didn’t have much time to get out and bird during the week so I tried to make the most of the weekend. Saturday we headed to the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve to join the ongoing hawkwatch. While the epic weekend didn’t materialize as anticipated (sustained west-northwest winds for several days) there were some highlights. Any time a Merlin went wizzing by was thrilling to watch but, the best spotting of the day was our last raptor; my lifer Rough-legged Hawk! I’ve been improving too slowly at raptor identification at a distance but I was surprised at how visible the carpal patches were on the bird’s wings. After the hawkwatch ended, we enjoyed the mirth and merriment of our fellow birders at the monthly Birds & Beers gathering.
Sunday morning, I drove down to the Burnham Prairie Nature Preserve in (fittingly) Burnham, a tiny suburb right on the city boundary. I was hoping to find some “good” sparrows but it was not meant to be. However, the numbers of the more common sparrows were quite strong. I spotted several first-of-season Fox Sparrows and, in the non-songbird category, a Black-bellied Plover. Overall, the birding was quite pleasant and I got some great looks at many common birds which is always a good opportunity for learning. This also gave me the excuse to break out the new Nikon 200-500 F5.6 lens and take some pictures and video. Enjoy!