Central Illinois Lakes Field Trip Report

On November 5th, 2016, IOS conducted an inland reservoir field trip. This concept was originally conceived by former field trip chair, Travis Mahan, and has proven to be an excellent way to survey Illinois Reservoirs. This weekend has historically been an excellent time to find some of the less likely loons, grebes, scoters and gulls. The reservoirs which have been selected for this trip are in close enough proximity to allow groups to move to other reservoirs when rarities are located.

Lake Shelbyville reported by Tyler Funk

Sunrise over Lake Shelbyville

Sunrise over Lake Shelbyville


A cool morning greeted the birding crew at Lake Shelbyville with virtually no wind. The sunrise was magnificent, reflecting off the glassy lake surface and the scope views were quite good of the birds we encountered. The group circled much of the lake throughout the day with not a lot of activity. Due to the warm, almost late summer-like weather, very few diving ducks, or even dabblers, have arrived in this area. Decent numbers of Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls were seen feeding over most portions of lake. Variety was not the spice of life throughout the day. Afternoon came and so did our first couple of nice birds. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and Red-throated Loon, seen from the Lake Shelbyville–Findlay Bridge East Access point (as it is listed in ebird). However, the R-T Loon identification gave the group some trouble, due to its plumage, even resulting in a paid boat trip to try and get pictures (not with positive results…).

Scoping from Rebel Point

Scoping from Rebel Point

Most of the Lake Shelbyville group met on Friday evening at the Prairie Falcon roosting spot and were rewarded with nice looks of the Prairie Falcons. A bonus was added by Ron Bradley who reported a White-winged Scoter at Larry Closson State Habitat Area (aka. Hickory Ridge).

White-winged Scoter by Ron Bradley

White-winged Scoter by Ron Bradley

The Shelbyville Group (Ted Wolff, Phil Doncheck, Arlene McFadden, Ron Bradley, Jon and Carolyn Grainger, Travis Mahan and Tyler Funk) finished Saturday with 55 species. Birds of the weekend included:

  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Franklin’s Gull
  • Red-throated Loon
  • Black Scoter (Seen by Travis Mahan at Findlay point)
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Prairie Falcon
  • White-winged Scoter

Clinton Lake reported by Matt Fraker

Black Scoter by Matt Fraker

Black Scoter by Matt Fraker


Birds of interest which were seen on Friday evening included:

  • Osprey
  • 3 Black Scoter
  • Rusty Blackbirds

Lake Springfield plus other areas reported:

Notable birds included:

  • 2 Blue-winged Teal
  • 3 Black Scoter
  • 6 Red-throated Loon
  • 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • 1 Great Horned Owl
  • 4 Barn Swallow
  • 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 4 Snow Bunting
  • 2 Pine Siskin
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