7-9-19 J.N. Ding Darling NWR; The Bailey Tract, Sanibel, FL

Today we decided to go back to J.N. Ding Darling NWR to see if we have as good a day as yesterday! After lunch, we headed to the refuge at low tide to see if we can find any birds! We went to the Mangrove Overlook to look over the water. The first thing we saw were 10 Great Egrets in the trees across the water. There were 6 others in the water. One ate and swallowed a fish while we were watching it. Here is the complete list from the day-

  • 16 Great Egrets
  • 2 Great Blue Herons
  • 1 Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
  • 1 Anhinga
  • 1 Osprey

After the refuge, we headed over to the Bailey Tract, an extension of the refuge. It consists of 4 different trails. We decided to hike the American Alligator trail, as you could have the best opportunity to see an alligator, and the nesting black-necked stilts that they have at the tract. While we were hiking, we came upon a very dark heron. I thought it was a juvenile, dark morph reddish egret. We brought a photo to the people at Ding, and they said it was a dark little blue heron. We also saw-

1 Black-Necked Stilt

4 Killdeer

1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker

I loved the Bailey Tract, and I hope to go back soon!

-Gracie McMahon


7-8-19 Birding at the Island Inn, and J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Over Easy Cafe, Blind Pass Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Today was our first day in Florida. I woke up, and stepped outside my hotel room, and the humid air greeted me like a good friend with a warm hug. Around the corner, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. 27 Brown Pelicans in a single tree! Had they been roosting overnight? I think so, because some of them seemed to be waking up. A laughing gull waded in the white foam of the surf at the shore. It let out one resounding “Squawk!” and flew to the SW, down the beach. In addition to these two species, we saw…

1 Osprey

3 Fish Crows

After seeing some birds at the hotel, we drove 5 minutes to a wonderful National Wildlife Refuge near the hotel, the J.N. Ding Darling NWR. Here, we drove around Wildlife Drive, the refuge loop. Right when we entered the drive, a curious yellow-crowned night heron greeted our car. When we got to the water, we saw many heron and egrets, along with 1 Red-Bellied Woodpeckers. This is our complete list from the refuge-

1 Reddish Egret

1 Anhinga

1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker

5 Yellow-Crowned Night Herons

2 Green Herons

4 Brown Pelicans

14 Great Egrets

1 Little Blue Heron

3 Osprey

1 Great Blue Heron

6 Double Crested Cormorants

2 Laughing Gulls

1 Spotted Sandpiper

2 Tricolored Herons

We had a wonderful, birdy day at Ding, and we will definitely come back tomorrow morning at low tide, to see what gems lurk in the underbrush!

Today at lunch at the Over Easy Cafe, there were 20 fish crows in a tree. They were making very raspy calls, more so than the American Crow.

After dinner, we went to Blind Pass Beach to shell. After shelling for an hour, we decided to go look under the bridge that connects Captiva Island and Sanibel Island. There, we found a man bait-fishing with a net. Right beside him was a snowy egret trying to steal his bait. On the other side of the bridge, there was a 4ft. Great Blue Heron! The heron stood there, as still as a statue. It was so majestic and beautiful.

I plan to bird tomorrow in Sanibel, and all the other days I am in Florida!

-Gracie McMahon


Deer Run Forest Preserve, Cherry Valley, IL: 6-15-19

Today was the Winnebago County Forest Preserve’s Birding Bonanza. There were 10 of us on the walk. We were there from 7:00 AM-9:00 AM. We saw…

Bald Eagle (1)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2)

Eastern Kingbird (3)

Eastern Meadowlark (3)

Common Yellowthroat (2)

Tree Swallow (many)

American Goldfinch (6)

Baltimore Oriole (2)

Dickcissel (4)

Barn Swallow (1)

Song Sparrow (2)

Flycatcher sp. (1)

Indigo Bunting (1) heard only

Red-bellied Woodpecker (1) heard only

Sandhill Crane (1)

Blue-winged Warbler (1) heard only

Rock Cut State Park (Puree Path) 5-19-19

Today my mom and I decided to visit Rock Cut State Park. We were there from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM. We saw many species, including 2 breeding male Blackburnian Warblers! This was very exciting for me as I have never seen one in the wild before. We saw…

Blackburnian Warbler (2)

Blackpoll Warbler (2)

Yellow Warbler (3)

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (2)

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (1)

Magnolia Warbler (1)

Scarlet Tanager (2)

Turkey Vulture (3)

Wild Turkey (2)

Blue Jay (1)

Canada Goose (10)

Bay-breasted Warbler (1)

Brown-headed Cowbird (5)

Song Sparrow (1)


Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL : 5-13-19

Today my mom and I went to Rock Cut State Park. We were there from 3:15 PM -4:30 PM. Our birding friends call it “Warbler Nirvana” during migration! They were totally right! It was so alive with activity.  We saw..

Spotted Sandpiper (1)                         Western Palm Warbler

Canada Goose                                        Black-and-White Warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler                      Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Tree Swallow                                          Northern Waterthrush

Yellow Warbler                                     Black-Throated Green Warbler

Northern Parula                                    Wilson’s Warbler

American Redstart                                 Brown Thrasher

Swainson’s Thrush                                 Blue Jay

Gray Catbird                                            Northern Cardinal