Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Emiquon in April

As an Emiquon Corps of Discovery member, I can drive the dike at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve. As a member of the Corps, I record observations so we can look back later and see how it has been transformed from farm land to wetland. This approximately 8.5 mile levee surrounds what was formerly Lakes Thompson and Flag, a lush wetland and back water lake off the Illinois River near Havana. Last Saturday my friend and I drove the levee to see what is happening in April on the Emiquon Preserve.

A hawk was off in the distance. After cropping and enlarging, I think it is a juvenile light morph Rough-legged Hawk.

American Coots were every where we looked on Lake Thompson. Where ever we drove (8.5 miles approximately around the dike) we found hundreds and thousands of Coots.

A female Northern Harrier was cruising the wet prairie between Flag Lake and the levee.

The channel heading towards the Spoon River (now the south end of Thompson Levee) is back. American Coots are taking advantage of the expansive waters of Lake Thompson.

Close to a hundred thousand American Coots were dispersed across Lake Thompson. The bluffs of Sister Creeks are in the far background.

A pair of Bald Eagles landed in the trees between Thompson Levee and the Illinois River just as we rounded the first turn.

A pair of Field Sparrows flew in front of us as we walked down Pumphouse Road from the levee.

This Coot landed in the brush, grasping a branch. I have never seen a coot in a tree or bush before!

As we drove around the turn of the levee towards the Sister Creeks entrance into the Illinois River, we saw an immature Bald Eagle on a snag over the river. He stayed in place as we drove by, and I was able to get a nice close shot (with challenging light!).

This is the eagle nest at Emiquon, near Mud Road. It doesn't seem to be occupied this year.

In the field by Clark Road, a couple of Turkey Vultures were eating something, possibly an opossum or raccoon.

On the way home we stopped by Lake Chautauqua on the east side of the river. A pair of Hooded Mergansers were swimming in the water next to the road leading to the dike separating the two pools of water.

A Tufted Titmouse was flitting around in the trees by the lookout over the lake. The lake is deep. No waterfowl could be seen.