I thought to myself earlier in the week, looking forward to birding two grasslands, that by this time I might have had my fill of this type of habitat, but to the contrary, the next places to visit, circling in my mind, are more of the same. Except that they have not been and will not be the same. Yes, I saw some of the same species at Bartel Grassland that were at Goose Lake Prairie. But there were others that were different. And the habitats are remarkably unique within themselves.
Of course it was a different experience going on a field trip with the Chicago Ornithological Society (COS) and 15-20 people (it seemed like a large group) than being totally alone. But whatever I lost in being able to record sounds, I probably gained in sightings. And the genial camaraderie of birding with people, some of whom I knew or had encountered before, falling in and out of conversations along the trail, was welcome, and as always, educational.
I haven’t been to Bartel for years, and then perhaps only twice. It is an ongoing restoration project. Each time I have been with a group and Dick Riner, the site steward, has been available for guidance and comment. I wish I had time to volunteer, to learn more from Dick and to experience the grassland from the ground up as it changes through the seasons. But I’m finding it hard enough to work in my own backyard. And the way Dick tells it, the high school kids are the best volunteers because of their energy physical capabilities. Grassland restoration is hard work!
Weather-wise we started out overcast and even a bit chilly. But that was not enough to stop a Red-Winged Blackbird from harassing a Great Blue Heron.
Someone mentioned the blackbird was riding piggyback on the heron. I can’t tell if the photograph above captured this or if it was some ruffled feathers, but you get the idea.
One of the target birds was Henslow’s Sparrow, which we heard quite a bit before we actually saw one. All the birds were too far away to photograph but I took my chances anyway and managed to get a few.
We had a couple Savannah Sparrows that were a bit closer to the trail.
At times the trail, or the beginning of one, stopped abruptly.
Perhaps best represented of the target birds were Boboliniks, even though Dick told us we seemed to have just missed most of them, when a few days ago there were perhaps hundreds more gathering to fly south toward their wintering grounds in Argentina. Bartel has the second largest population of breeding Bobolinks in Illinois, the first being at Midewin. But Midewin is so huge you might never be able to see as many as we did today. There were about 20. The females were a little easier to get pictures of.
Two views of a female. Click on the pictures and you might actually be able to see them!
Eastern Meadowlarks…were present but difficult to capture. Still it was nice to see as well as hear them.
The milkweed is thick and in full bloom at Bartel, and insects could not resist it. I found this bee hanging from it at the very start.
I don’t think I have ever seen a Halloween Pennant before. This is a new dragonfly for me, and quite a flashy one.
Whatever the moth on the milkweed, it was not revealing itself to me. But by now the sun was shining brightly, offering a better picture.
Another look at the Savannah Sparrow.
On the way back to my car I noticed the Blazing Star starting to bloom.
It’s been a beautiful weekend.
It’s going to be hard to go to work tomorrow.
To be continued…