It’s been a long day, starting at precisely 3:08 AM, although I was semi-awake at 2:30 in anticipation of the alarm clock. I knew the indoor birds would be a bit confused by my poking around in the dark and I tried to let them sleep as long as possible, but I eventually left a light on a timer to go off after it got lighter. When I left at 5:30 it was just barely starting to get light, for the days are shortening. Following are pictures of a few of the species seen today on the Evanston North Shore Bird Club field trip led by Beau Schaefer.
The long drive north yielded four Red-Tailed Hawks perched on lamp posts by the highway, and a dense foggy dew that just began to lift when I reached my destination around 6:37 AM. I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t early enough to capture the fog with the camera.
As it is, I didn’t realize until halfway through the walk that one reason why I was having a hard time capturing photos, other than the birds being pretty far away and often backlit, was that I had attached the wrong lens to the wrong camera (I’ve been getting better luck with the 100-400mm and the 5D, using the 7D for the macro lens – only I had them switched). So I guess the best scenario would have been to assemble the cameras and lenses last night before I went to bed, if I was a little bit more coherent than this morning. Unfortunately one never knows.
Lots of Common Yellowthroats – no surprise there. But the only one that perched in view was in the shadow of the cup plant.
One bird I was definitely counting on seeing at Rollins, as I have always seen them there, was a Sedge Wren. I was not disappointed. I had heard them at Goose Lake Prairie but never found one. However, as many Sedge Wrens as we heard this morning at Rollins, they weren’t all that easy to spot, until one finally sat up in a straddled fashion and sang his heart out for us. Below, a couple photographs and recordings.
The first Eastern Meadowlark we saw appeared to have taken a bath. There were better views of another individual much later. We also had a few Bobolinks but none close enough for an image.
Rollins has various small bodies of water and depending on the depth, attracts water birds and shorebirds. I didn’t bother trying to take pictures of the shorebirds although we saw Short-Billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and more Killdeer than we could count. This list is from memory and I may be leaving something out. Toward the end of the walk, the Great Egret below was visible through an opening, and so was a Great Blue Heron earlier, but I think I may have captured them both better in flight.
I was surprised to find the camera captured a Tree Swallow when I don’t even remember trying for it. I sometimes forget the camera has a mind of its own.
The last picture is perhaps the first bird we saw, an energetic Song Sparrow.
In general it was a good day to be out, didn’t get too uncomfortably hot or buggy, and we were a good group of manageable size. Beau Schaefer led us at a fairly rapid pace, thus ensuring we got exercise. And I am grateful to now know where the additional parking lot is on the other side of the preserve, so next time I go, I will not feel overwhelmed about walking the entire trail. There are also a lot of cyclists to watch out for the later it gets, emphasizing the logic of starting out around 6:30 AM.
My car reports it is happy about all the extra driving we did today. I treated it to some cheaper gas and a car wash. Doesn’t get any better.