Chicago Sun-Times
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Picture this: Wild Sunday 8-24-08

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You should be looking at a photo of black-necked stilts.

emiquon8-23-08canoe2

But I got sidetracked and this shot of another voyageur canoe making its way through the cattails on Thompson Lake will have to do.

Sometimes, I get too caught up in my job.

On Saturday, I had my first tour of Emiquon, the flood plain restoration project on the Illinois River near Lewistown, about an hour south of Peoria.

The Nature Conservancy project is stunning on many levels.

Various tours were part of Caterpillar Friends & Family Summer Picnic at Dickson Mounds Museum. Emiquon is right next to Dickson Mounds Museum.

I began with a voyageur canoe trip on Thompson Lake. Only two years ago, it was being farmed for the usual corn and soybeans. Now it is roughly a 2,000-acre lake.

We saw all kinds of waterfowl, shorebirds and aquatic plants, all of which exploded since the area quit being drained two years ago.

My highlight came when I saw some strange shorebirds and asked Jim, the guy beside me with a pair of binoculars, to scope them out.

About that time, Jeff Walk, a conservation planner and avid birder for TNC, said, ``Look at the black-necked stilts.''

And they perfectly matched the online description from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

``A striking black-and-white bird with very long, thin red legs, the Black-necked Stilt is found along the edges of shallow water in open country.''

(Click here for more complete info on black-necked stilts.

I was so interested in watching the birds, a life first for me, that I forgot to take pictures, even when they wheeled away finally.

One of the marvels of Emiquon is that it is the farthest point north in Illinois when black-necked stilts nest.

Four weeks ago, I cracked wise wondering what a black-necked necked stilt is in a Stray Cast posted here.

Now, I have it as a life bird.

Just part of something special at a special place that will be more special in coming years.

For more info on Emiquon, the TNC side of the project you will hear more about in coming years, click here.

Dickson Mounds Museum is a good starting point as background for Emiquon.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 24, 2008 8:29 PM.

``Borrowed hooks & other looks:'' Reality shows better than fantasy (photos updated) was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois Hunting Report 8-27-08 is the next entry in this blog.

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