Sunday I was looking forward to visiting my local haunts. The plan was to visit McGinnis Slough and then go to the Chicago Portage. I got to the Slough, started unpacking the trunk of the car and realized I didn’t have my binoculars with me. This was doubly frustrating as I saw and heard a Red-Shouldered Hawk and caught a glimpse of a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. I couldn’t even see this Cedar Waxwing when I took its photograph.
Undeterred, I decided to venture forth anyway with the scope and camera. But as I started walking north along the mowed path, I was soon greeted by swarms of deer flies. Or they could have been horse flies, if there is a difference I am unaware of it. The more I swatted at them, the more they dug in. Bug spray seemed to attract them even more.
I cannot recall this having ever happened before at McGinnis, but I guess conditions were just right for hungry flies. It had been a few days without rain and temperatures were increasing. As I retreated rather hastily toward my car, it occurred to me I could invest in protective clothing for these unpredictable but miserable situations. I figure I already look nerdy with my pants tucked into my socks to ward off ticks, so why not go one step further and surround myself with netting the flies can’t get through?
Leaving McGinnis in such a hurrry gave me the opportunity to go home, trade my scope for binoculars and set out for the Portage. I got there about 8:20 a.m., still fairly early, although the heat was increasing. I got a few pictures of the usual suspects. Oddly enough, nothing was biting me.
The Northern Cardinal below saw me, flew toward me, perched and started singing. He must have wanted to distract me from his nest.
Still short on butterflies, this Tiger Swallowtail is missing its tail.
I showed the picture below briefly to the Insect Guy (I don’t know his name, but I’ve run into him before at Portage, he takes pictures of insects) while it was still on my camera and he said it was a Jewel Wing but I’m not so sure after looking in my little field guide, so I am not identifying it.
I caught a glimpse of a few Wood Ducklings as they swam back into the reeds.
Everybody was fairly cooperative, as long as they felt safe behind one twig or another…
Shortly after the Insect Guy and I stopped to talk on the trail, he suddenly called my attention to a Red-Tailed Hawk carrying a rabbit to a tree behind me.
The heat and humidity have turned the duckweed thick and split-pea-soup green. On my way out, one of the Green Herons that spends its summer hunting inhabitants of this soup was sitting perched close enough for me to get a few pictures.
And then he decided he’d had enough of my attention…
and landed in a tree where he could blend in.
The weather is beastly hot outside as I finish writing this from the confines of the cold air conditioned office, but we are promised cooler temperatures this weekend after some rain tomorrow. I am looking forward to it!
Nice shots Lisa! 🙂
Thanks, HJ! 🙂
Lovely post! I empathize about lacking binocs – I feel blind when I forget mine, too. It’s great that you have a good ear for identifying them by their calls.
Thanks for your comment! I even have a checklist now because I take so much stuff with me (don’t want to forget my wallet, for instance, cell phone, list, pen, etc.) but I totally ignored the “bins” on it. I’m blaming mindlessness on the heat!
Yeah, the heat is something else! I think that explains the biting flies, too.
Great pictures, as usual. You know, I really feel slighted by the cedar waxwings. I’ve planted a bunch of their favorites, and they still don’t show up. The red elderberry fruit is going pretty much uneaten.
Thanks for the comment. About the Waxwings: how dare they slight you? I’m surprised somebody else doesn’t eat the elderberries then… I have some bushes that have red berries on them – I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember now what they are – but they are low to the ground and full of fruit one day and barren the next; unfortunately I never see anybody actually eating the berries, although I suspect Robins and squirrels. I was thinking of getting a Serviceberry to attract birds. I had a Mulberry at the back of my lot when I moved in but took it out: it was a mess, and invasive, and the Starlings ate most of the fruit and then relieved themselves in purple to prove it. For the record I saw a Cedar Waxwing once on the way to work in somebody’s crab apple tree. And I used to see them eating Serviceberries by Loyola’s fitness center. I would think a little later in the year, toward fall, they will start moving in flocks again, and if you have any fruit left you could get lucky…?
I have serviceberries and a crab. Their fruit gets eaten, serviceberry by robins mostly and the crabapples I think by starlings. I also have spicebush, grey dogwood, black elderberry, snowberry, and wild currants. This is the first year when the grey dogwood and spicebush will really bear a lot of fruit.
I love the waxwing pictures. We only see waxwings for a day or two each year and then only if we are lucky. They are such beautiful birds.
Thanks! I was surprised to see, or I should say for the camera to see, only one, as I am more accustomed to seeing them in groups.
Your narrative sounds like a great safari..love the photos..and enjoyed the post.
Oh thank you so much, Syl!