I lost my post that I wrote for the first four days so those days may be somewhat incomplete.
CARPENTERSVILLE, IL TO LEXINGTON, KY
Within the first few minutes of our vacation, we saw two male Ring-necked Pheasants (one was on the Kane county side on the sign and not an eBird rare bird whereas the other was on the Cook county side, a rare bird). After that, we did not see very many birds (while driving) for a couple of days. The only other good bird(s) were thirty Pectoral Sandpipers in central Indiana.
LEXINGTON, KY TO SEVIERVILLE, TN
We stayed at the Quality Inn (apparently the only hotel that had availability that night) in Lexington, KY and by morning I had my FOY Northern Mockingbird. On the drive down to Pigeon Forge, TN, I got my FOY Black Vulture and some more Northern Mockingbirds. Also, on the way down, we stopped at Seven Islands State Birding Park (SISBP) where my 6-year-old brother found a very camouflaged Hermit Thrush. There were a lot of birds at SISBP. In fact, so many that I decided that my father and I should go back early in the morning at sunrise (~7:25 AM).
The next morning at SISBP, my dad and I found Wood Ducks, a couple flyover Pileated Woodpeckers, a nesting Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, some cooperative Carolina Wrens, Yellow-rumped Warblers (maybe soon to be again Myrtle Warbler), and last but not least, a single Palm Warbler. We spent the rest of the day in Pigeon Forge, TN (although the Wilderness In The Smokies resort that we stayed at was in Sevierville) As you probably guessed, I did not see many birds. However, I did get an Eastern Meadowlark.
SEVIERVILLE, TN TO HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC
We drove through the Smoky Mountains, from Sevierville, TN to Hilton Head Island, SC. The scenery of the Smoky Mountains was amazing but there were few birds there. The only notable bird on the drive was a Pileated Woodpecker. We checked into the Omni at Hilton Head. After we checked in, we went immediately to the beach where I found a group of about 10 Northern Gannets (lifer #333) and 4 lifer (#334) Least Terns.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC
My dad and I drove to Pinckney Island NWR before sunrise. Unfortunately, it was closed until sunrise. We waited about twenty minutes until the sun rose and right as we entered the NWR I already had my first lifer of the trip, a few Tricolored Heron (#335) hanging out with some Snowies and Little Blues. Right as we got out of the car to walk on the paved path, we saw warblers flitting in the trees right above our heads. The birds turned out to be Northern Parulas, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Tufted Titmice. We walked down the paved path finding a few birds here and there but no real numbers of birds until we got to the Ibis Pond where there were ~100 herons of all of the species native to there (Snowy & Great Egrets and Little Blue & Tricolored Herons), Common Gallinules making their alien-like calls, my lifer Boat-tailed Grackles (#336), my lifer White-eyed Vireo (#339) (my nemesis bird), my lifer White Ibis (#337), and my lifer Fish Crow (#338). On our way back to the hotel, we went to Fish Haul Creek Park to look for some of the shorebirds that have recently been sighted there. When we got to the beach part of the park, I immediately spotted ~30 Marbled Godwits (lifer #340), my lifer American Oystercatcher (#341), and my lifer Western Sandpiper (#342).
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC
Today my dad and I went back to Fish Haul Creek Park to try to scope more of the shorebirds that we saw yesterday. Immediately, we found a flock of about 70 White Ibises. When we got to the beach, we saw lots of birds, all of which we saw yesterday. We walked down a sand path to see if there was an easy way to get to the island where the birds were. We walked about a quarter mile and found Savannah Sparrows, Palm Warblers, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers but found no easy way to get on to the island. Just as we turned around to go back, I heard a King Rail that sounded like it was only a few feet away. I tried to flush it by clapping but that did not work. I gave up on trying to flush the bird so we started walking again but we only got a few feet before a King Rail (lifer) ran right in front of me! I started hearing more and more King Rails calling (about 7). We walked a little more until we saw a large flock of shorebirds (~150) on the island that turned out to be my lifer Red Knots! Also, while we were looking at the Red Knots, I saw more King Rails (most of which quickly flew over marsh but one was perched on a reed), my lifer Saltmarsh Sparrow was also seen there! We scoped the island finding Whimbrels, Marbled Godwits, Willets, Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, and lifer Wilson’s & Piping Plovers. On our walk back, I heard and then saw a lifer Prairie Warbler and another was singing behind it. Later in the day, our whole family went to Sea Pines Forest Preserve and I found an Osprey, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (lifer), a Pied-billed Grebe, and some Alligators.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC TO FLORENCE, KY
Not much to say about today other than that in Hilton Head I saw about 150 cormorants. As we approached Florence (in some pretty bad storms), we heard that a part of I-80 in Atlanta had collapsed which was the route that we were originally going to take.
FLORENCE, KY TO CARPENTERSVILLE, IL
Today I picked up a new state (Ohio) and I saw one very pretty male Ring-necked Pheasant (this time it was in Kane county). At the heron rookery at I-90 there were over 125 cormorants and 75 Great Egrets.
TRIP BIRD LIST
Bold = lifer
Italic = year-bird
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow