On this late August morning, myself and 2 others went looking for shorebirds and other water birds. We had an amazing day and saw 23 species of shorebirds, and saw some other good birds as well!
We started birding around Grand Tower Illinois in southern Jackson County, where we refound one pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS with young, as well as other birds such as a Green Heron.
We then continued down Island Road into the area between the Upper and Lower Chute, which is actually Missouri. Here, we saw some of our first shorebirds including 3 AMERICAN AVOCETS. We also saw several hundred waders and 3 species of tern.
We followed Island Road back into Illinois and birded areas between the Lower Chute and Highway 3. We first looked over an area where a Fulvous Whistling-Duck was earlier in the month. Again, we saw hundreds of waders but more diversity, including more than a hundred Little Blue Herons and 30+ Cattle Egrets. We continued another half a mile east and I noticed some shorebirds at a flooded field. We were able to see 2 BAIRDS SANDPIPERS and 5 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS within this mixed flock of shorebirds. We had seen 13 species of shorebirds for the morning on the Illinois side so far.
We continued south through Union county and into Alexander county towards the “main shorebird spot.” Upon arrival, we quickly noticed the number of shorebirds using the location for fueling up. We quickly found 2 MARBLED GODWITS and a (calling) WILLET. I then came upon two slightly larger, dull, fatter shorebirds within a flock of peeps about half way out. I quickly realized that these birds were RED KNOTS! After finding these, we also saw 6 AMERICAN AVOCETS, 4 WESTERN SANDPIPERS and a Wilson’s Phalarope among other shorebirds. Picture of the Red Knots is below
We then continued, for a quick bite to eat and filled up on the Missouri side (also saw a couple Mississippi Kites), and headed south.
We made a quick stop in Southern Alexander County, and the area I wanted to get to was closed off due to the road being washing out, although we did see 50 LEAST TERNS!
Picture of the road is below.
We then birded other parts in Jackson county for more shorebirds. We were sitting at 20 shorebird species for the day. We found many more flooded fields and hundreds of more shorebirds! Besides some more shorebirds like an AMERICAN AVOCETS, a WESTERN SANDPIPER, and 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, we also added 1 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, two dozen AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, and 2-3 SANDERLINGS! We also saw hundreds of Black-necked Stilts throughout the day. Picture of some of the habitat is below.
We made a quick stop at Carlyle Lake on the way home, and besides two flocks of Common Nighthwaks, an Osprey, a couple Bonaparte’s Gulls and a Barred Owl, we didn’t see much else.
So, 23 species of shorebirds, 6 species of waders and 2 broods of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS were the highlights. We all agreed that the bird of the day was the two RED KNOTS and the runner up was the two MARBLED GODWITS! Another great day of great Illinois shorebirding!