Wishing away the fog didn't work. We got an early fogged start away from the motel in Newton, IL and were in place to begin the chicken watch by 6:30am, well before sunrise, if ever the sun could get through the fog. The harriers and Short-eared Owls were there again. Finally at 7:15 I spotted the chickens through the fog on a ridge some 300 yards away. I called John who had wandered away; he came back quickly to see his next life bird. From time to time the fog thinned and we could see the males strutting their stuff with their head quill feathers erect, their tails cocked, and their air sacs inflated. We could also hear them calling even at that distance. After quite a while, they stopped the strutting and started feeding. At that point five of them flew a little closer and we were able through the scopes to see details of their plumage. Our high count during the morning was 17 birds. I've posted a terrible picture (photo) that I shot in an ineffective attempt to capture the birds. They are there, but you may have to take my word for it.
We celebrated with a Hardee's breakfast using discount coupons Joyce had given me before I left. On through the fog to Indiana, the state where I grew up. We decided to stop at Turkey Run State Park for a little midwest birding. We recorded some firsts for the year such as Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Black-capped Chickadee. The park has a nice museum and nature center plus some well-stocked birdfeeders which we enjoyed. It was a nice outing and gave us a break from driving.
At our lunch stop a stretch limo pulled in and disgorged a dozen boys and a father. It was the birthday for one of the boys and more important they were St. Louis Cardinals fans. The birthday boy had a Pujols shirt on and I wished him and his team the best.
The rest of the drive to Indianapolis, where we will be staying with my sister Judy, went smoothly although the weather hardly changed. Tomorrow we'll head for home and Virginia. Our species total now stands at 266.