Summer at last. Booming thunder in the distance. Heat and humidity have arrived. Bites that beg to be scratched. It seems inevitable that I will put on the wrong pair of shoes and rub my heels raw to blisters after walking the two miles to work, and finish them off on the way home.
The primary source of my bites most likely was a trip to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on Saturday afternoon. Midewin was established on the former site of the Joliet Arsenal. It was a beat-the-heat strategy to meet at 4:00 p.m. in the diminishing intensity of the sun. There were perhaps 25 of us, a large group by birding standards. Possibly the large group kept the birds at a mostly non-photographable distance, but the beauty of the vast landscape prevailed. We managed to see most of our target species, namely Blue Grosbeak, Northern Mockingbird and Loggerhead Shrike.
Midewin (pronounced “Mid-DAY-win”) was by all accounts Dickcissel and Field Sparrow Heaven on Saturday. I didn’t get a Field Sparrow image this time but this Dickcissel was happy to show us the boundaries of his territory, quite near the road we walked on.
In the picture above, the second bump from the left on the fence is a Loggerhead Shrike. Not that you can tell. Too far away, but the rolling fence posts and endless grass give you an idea of the shrike’s preferred habitat.
This was as close as I could get to one Mockingbird, who then took off and clinched his identity with the trademark white patches in his wings.
The Blue Grosbeaks were even farther away… flying below…
And landing, to sing a little.
Later we got a much better look at the female version.
Eastern Meadowlarks were also abundant that day.
But the Dickcissel had the last word.
It’s great that you go out on the field and enjoy the outdoors. At least is not raining like here by me. 🙂
Oh no! Still raining? I have to go out on the weekends or I see nothing this time of year. 🙂
I really have to make a point of going to Midewin. I love restored prairies (I don’t think there are any other kind in this state).
Thanks for your comment! Actually, Goose Lake Prairie is the closest thing to original maybe you can get in Illinois, and it’s not far from Midewin. I love Goose Lake and I think I have to visit soon (I went last 4th of July). It feels different – and I don’t think it’s the hype. It’s a smaller area than Midewin, but the DNR’s website says it’s much like the state was 150 years ago.