So Roy Vivian had a tip on gray partridge in Stephenson County.
Vivian, the guy I prefished the the MWC tournament on the Illinois River last month, grew up in Freeport and had hunted gray partridge near there within the past 10 years. He happened to read the column or Stray Cast about trying to find gray partridge in Illinois with birders Joel Greenberg and Andy Sigler and gave me leads on two specific farms.
Well, Greenberg and Sigler were hot to try again for gray partridge. They are big-time birders and making certain gray partridge still are present in Illinois means something to their record keeping.
(BTW, if anybody has a good lead on wild gray partridge, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This morning we trekked out there. And we found people at both farms so we could ask permission to look for gray partridge.
The looks we got were priceless. Oh, we got permission, but the looks suggested the people living there had not seen a gray partridge,
And along the quest, we ranged into a discussion of Twittering.
The first stop was rife with red-winged blackbirds, and one hen pheasant.
The second stop, a long walk through thick grass for about 3/4 of a mile each way along a snowmobile trail, produced only one cockbird pheasant, lots of song sparrows, a few other sparrows and some flyovers.
As we are tramping through, Greenberg said, ``If we were Twittering, would we say, `We flushed a pheasant?' ''
The scary part is Twittering is probably coming too soon to the outdoor world.
About mid-morning, we finally gave up the quest for gray partridge, and turned back toward home.
I ashamed to say I have not sighted any white-winged crossbills. And we didn't find any of them in the evergreens, but we did have a number of pine siskins.
It was time.
We tried a variable lake on the way back, but it only held a few shorebirds and ducks. Then it Route 20 to Interstate 90, and home.