Lake Katharine

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Last Sunday morning I managed to get up early and find Lake Katharine, which is directly south from where I live. Dick Riner mentioned it to me when I visited Bartel Grasslands, so I decided to check it out. It’s part of the Cook County Forest Preserve system. Although it’s surrounded by suburban sprawl, it has a variety of well-managed habitats and I will return.

Cabbage White

Cabbage White

I started out walking east from the parking lot to take in the prairie/grassland portion. It was overcast and a bit cool so there wasn’t a lot of activity yet, but I was not planning on staying long anyway since I had a cousins’ lunch to attend in the afternoon.

Is this Purple Loosestrife?

Is this Purple Loosestrife?

Japanese Beetle on Thistle

Japanese Beetle on Thistle.

I didn’t manage to visit the Nature Center this time but I will on my next visit. According to the website, Lake Katharine has many educational and volunteer programs in place to get people involved with nature. I was just enjoying the scenery like this huge sunflower and imagining how many goldfinches would be hanging upside down on it as soon as the seeds ripen.

Sunflower 7-13-14-2732Sunflower Seeds 7-13-14-2735

Out of the wildflowers and heading toward the west end of the lake, I walked a path with a wooded area which is where I encountered the Black-Crowned Night Heron at the beginning of the post. It landed in a tree not too far away, but when it saw me it spent time trying to hide behind whatever branches were between us. I guess when he figured out I wasn’t going to leave until I got a picture with all of his head in it, he gave in.

Dragonflies were one reason why I came, but I was able to barely photograph only this one and I don’t know what it is, fledgling dragonfly observer that I am. I don’t think the picture offers enough detail to be absolutely certain.

Dragonfly - Pond Hawk 7-13-14-1312

Male Blue Dasher – thanks for the ID, Linda!

Grass 7-13-14-2712

Unknown Grass

Froggies 7-13-14-1314


I’m also soliciting identification of the grass – I gave up after clicking on a list with links to pictures and descriptions of maybe 100 different grasses that occur in Illinois.

When I got to the water and stopped to look, the shallows seemed to be bubbling with life. Occasionally I did see bubbles but for the most part I felt as if I was being watched by a couple hundred eyes from submerged frogs. I am not good at identifying frogs so I have no idea if they were really frogs or my overactive imagination.

American Robin

American Robin

Robins are everywhere, busy with their nests and most likely working on a second clutch. I have seen juvenile Robins but this adult felt like posing with a grub. A few robins are still singing a phrase here and there.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

I saw the Great Egret before the Caspian Tern. I went around the trail to get a closer look at the egret and started talking with another Dick who was also taking pictures. He works at Lake Katherine and maintains the grounds, which is too huge a task for me to imagine. The tern flew over us as we were talking. According to Dick the tern has been making an appearance daily.

GREG 7-13-14-1398When I did finally get close enough for a better picture of the egret, it decided it had had enough of posing and scratched an itch.

GREG 7-13-14-1407I am going to sleep early so I can get up and join the Evanston North Shore Bird Club’s field trip to Rollins Savanna in Grayslake, Illinois. It will take me an hour to get there, even at 5:30 in the morning. Rollins was on my list of places to visit, I haven’t been there in a couple years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire place, but a four-hour field trip should cover it all and satisfy my curiosity. (Oh, and it’s good for the car to get some exercise beyond running local errands. I need motivation to get up at 3:00 a.m.)

6 thoughts on “Lake Katharine

    • Thanks, Lesa. Confirmed the Purple Loosestrife today @ Rollins. So there’s little bits of it here and there. The heron was a gift, he just showed up and then we both stared at each other for a bit. 🙂

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