My 2500th Cook County, Illinois, Self IDed Species for 2020. Now for the iNat Peer IDs

This was it!

Self identified species #2500 for my #2020cookcountyinatbigyear: Western Grebe at Rainbow Beach photo by Matt Sparapani. I only got to count it because I looked back one last time. But I am getting ahead of myself with this story.

As I retired on Friday night, I had self IDed 2499 species of living things in Cook County. My goal is to see and have peers ID on iNat 2500 living things from Cook County in 2020.

BEFORE that can even be possible, I need to SEE 2500 myself.

I began Saturday morning at Centennial Park where a Townsend's Solitaire had been seen the morning before. I was up at 555am and there before the 648am sunrise. Shortly after sunrise, Isoo joined me, and we searched the park and the neighborhood to no avail. Isoo also had intel on a location in Evanston where a White-winged Crossbill had come to a thistle feeder the two prior days, but the homeowner didn't want anyone to show up until after 10am.

We decided to head to St Adalbert's Cemetery to check out the pinery there, as Joe Lill had a few White-wings there Thursday and we had two hours to kill. After Adalbert's we figured we would head to Memorial Park Cemetery to check that pinery. It was just a few blocks from the homeowner we planned to visit at 10am.

As we arrived at Adalbert's we learned that Matt & Allison had a Western Grebe down at Rainbow Beach. We didn't even think twice. We were on our way.

Nothing worse than arriving at a location where a rare bird is to see everyone looking in all different directions, chatting it up, and eager to tell you where it was last seen and by whom. Don't care. Where is the bird? DAMN.

I don't know how long we stood there, searching, but eventually the Tolzman's, who had been there for an hour looking if I heard them correctly, left. Then Isoo left. They were going over to Park 566 to see if they could relocate the Western Grebe from that vantage, looking north to the Rainbow Beach breakwater. I decided I was going to join them too.

See, overnight, I had a clear and vivid dream that I saw a Western Grebe at Park 566. I remember being very happy. It seemed obvious that I should join them and make this dream come true.

Yet, I hesitated. Scott & Alisa along with Matt & Allison were walking off the beach, so I thought I would say hello. I mean, how many underwing moths did I get sitting at Scott's deck late this summer? I waited and learned what I could from them. We all talked, while keeping an anxious eye on the water. Nothing. I said my goodbyes, and headed to the Prius C.

And I hesitated one last time, and put up my bins to check one more time. Every birder has done this a million times, and it never amounts to anything. This time, there was the Western Grebe. Distant, small, but right where Allison had found, and Matt had photographed, the grebe more then an hour or so earlier. I yelled to Scott to get his scope on it, I looked at it again to make sure I had my ID right. This never happens. I did have it right, there was the Western Grebe. I ran back to Prius C to get my scope.

Wish I hadn't done that.

When I got back to the group, Scott and Matt had one more brief look, and then the bird dove. We never saw it again.

Didn't know that at the time, so we called Isoo, he called the Tolzman's, they all came back. Another 30 minutes went by, nothing. Well, a Common Loon, but that wasn't what we all wanted to see. Scott & Alisa left, Matt & Allison left, and it was now 1030am.

What about that White-winged Crossbill in Evanston?

Isoo shared the intel he had, and I was off while they would keep looking for the grebe, which they never did see. I found and photographed the White-winged Crossbill with Fran and the homeowner Alan. I watched the crossbill until it flew away to the northwest. It was very satisfying.

Got home, and only then realized that the Western Grebe was the two thousand five hundredth species of living thing I had seen in Cook County this year. BFD. No way to get 2500 peer IDed species until I saw 2500 species. Real BFD. I wanted to jump and shout and yell with someone.

Around me at home, AG was packing for a three week Florida trip, RN was playing Minecraft, Lynne was reading. No one really cared all that much. Just another day where dad / Jeff was doing his nature thing. I smiled a big smile, and went upstairs to paint what was once my office, that was now going to be RN's bedroom. I need to have that done before AG returns home in three weeks, so she can quarantine downstairs where RN is sleeping while his room gets painted.

There was no jumping around, screaming or yelling. I just looked at my list of what else I might yet see this year and plotted my next outing.

When I was done with round one of painting, I met Derek out for quick seed collecting excursion, and that completed, we found a few easy plants I did not yet have for the year. Met him again this afternoon after painting, did the same again today. I now have my total to 2511 self IDed species, and my iNat peers have IDed 2022 of them to this point.

No kicking back, though, not until the year is over 39 days from now. Tomorrow, off to see if I can turn up the Hoary Redpoll that was seen today at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

That would be an excellent addition to my species list for the year.

Posted by skrentnyjeff skrentnyjeff, November 23, 2020 06:05


Photos / Sounds


Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)




November 21, 2020 09:15 AM CST


PHOTOS by Matthew Sparapani and used with permission. The back of camera shot was a placeholder photo until Matt emailed me his processed images

And this, I believe, is the 2500th species of living thing that I have self identified in Cook County in 2020 for my 2020 Cook County iNat Big Year


congratulations! I love that you saw the grebe at Rainbow with one last look back. so sublimely romantic for such an achievement!

Posted by partspermillion over 1 year ago (Flag)

Congrats! :)

Posted by elfaulkner over 1 year ago (Flag)

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