April 18th, 2015
Leader: Tyler Funk
We will start our field trip at 7:00 AM at the Douglas Hart Nature Center in Mattoon where woodland, grassland, and wetland habitats offer a good diversity within a small area. Target birds will include waterfowl, early migrant passerines, shorebirds, and a walk around the wetlands for rails. Sora and Virginia Rail frequent this marsh, and the habitat is often suitable for Yellow Rail.
Depending on scouting reports for Smith’s Longspurs and American Golden Plover, our route may vary, but our next destination will be the Larry D. Closson Habitat Area (A.K.A. Hickory Ridge). This site is just east of Oakland, Illinois along 1975E and 70N in Douglas County. Target species here include grassland sparrows, raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, and rails. Sora is, at times, abundant here and Virginia Rail has been found here each year since I started checking this sight. As with Douglas Hart Nature Center, the habitat here also contains some areas that could be good for Yellow Rail. Hazards at this site include tall grass and marsh habitat.
Our next stop will be Arcola Marsh. This site is an old landfill that has sat idle since the mid 1970s. It is located near the intersection of Route 45 and 1900N in Douglas County. This site has been a good holding spot for lingering waterfowl, shorebirds, rails, American Bittern, and a variety of passerines. Hazards here include tall grass, rocky footing, and groundhog holes.
We will likely stop in Arcola for lunch around noon. Eurasian Collared-Doves frequent this community, and if we have not seen one prior to lunch, we will look for this species before leaving town. Arcola has Subway, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, and some local restaurants in the downtown area if you’re looking for something other than fast food.
From Arcola I plan to hit pre-scouted areas along the Kaskaskia River for Rusty Blackbird flocks. We will not linger long in these areas. The remainder of the afternoon will be spent around Lake Shelbyville looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, grebes, rails, and other passerines. Mudflats, marsh habitats, and areas of tall grass may be encountered)
Meet at 6:45 AM at the Mattoon, Illinois McDonalds. From the northbound I-57 take exit 190B and McDonalds is ½ mile on the south side of the road. From the southbound I-57 take exit 190B.
Most of the areas we will be hiking have fairly level terrain. I estimate that we will walk somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 miles for the day. Walking through tall grass, marsh habitat, and uneven rocky surfaces may present challenges in isolated areas. Knee high, waterproof boots would be a good option in some areas. County roads in the area can be muddy or dusty, but I will be sure to keep you on decent roads. Spotting scopes, cameras, binoculars, snacks, water, and if you have one, a 2-way radio would be suggested equipment. As is the case in all of Illinois, the weather can be unpredictable, so keep an eye on forecasted conditions and dress accordingly. All of the areas we will be visiting have a fair number of ticks. Bug spray is always recommended.