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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

June 10: Picture of the Day

June 10, 2010 at 01:22 PM

Somebody told me the other day that this feature ought to be renamed, “Bird Picture of the Day.”

And they had a point. At the same time, they illustrated something I’ve argued many times before: If you are a hunter or angler and you don’t enjoy watching birds, you are missing out on an awful lot.

Fact of the matter is, for every deer, turkey, coyote, fox or bear you spot, you could probably have watched a few hundred birds. They are everywhere. And the more you hunt and fish, the more you start to see birds that you won’t see in town. For me, all those birds sightings help pass the time between critter sightings. Plus, they make me feel more in tune with the world around me.

When a bird is no longer just “a bird” but can be quantified as a species, well that somehow becomes more meaningful. The experience of seeing “a bird” is not nearly as exciting as the experience of seeing “a bobolink.”

That’s why I’ve had so much fun these past two months driving around along the backroads near grassy fields and ditches and seeing what is there. Some days there’s little more than red-winged blackbirds. Other days are rich with life. Lately, I’ve been on a good run with quail, like this cooperative rascal. While there’s no way to prove this, I’ve got to believe this is the same bobwhite cock I photographed a few weeks ago. Only this morning he was perched on the south side of the road, about 100 yards from his last perch.

Actually, he almost didn’t make the cut today. Other photo options included a 13-lined ground squirrel, a bobolink, a meadowlark, a mallard drake, a blue heron and a trio of red-winged blackbird fledglings who spent most of their time pooping (one even captured on camera). The boys liked the latter shot. And I’m glad. That tells me they might also be birdwatchers.

And in the years to come, when fishing or hunting gets slow, they’ll have plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors.


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