Unexpected at the Portage

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird managing to pose nicely but hiding its rufous undertail coverts

After hours spent slaving over a hot laptop (not really, just metaphorically speaking), I am still not entirely finished processing last weekend’s photographs, and there are some from this weekend as well… but the last two visits to the Chicago Portage, last Sunday and yesterday late morning after attending the Douglas Park walk, about which I hope to do my next post, produced surprises.

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Nothing was as surprising as seeing Wild Turkeys on the gravel path yesterday. Even more surprising was the fact that they did not dash off, but rather seemed to keep their slow, cautious pace, as if they were new here and checking out the place. I suspect they are the same turkeys I saw last summer by the railroad track bed.

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The remainder of the photographs here are from last Sunday, the 21st. I am not sure if I realized when I took the pictures of the Canada Geese that three of them very obviously had neck bands, I was so busy paying attention to No. 63B harrassing No. 68B. I have to look up the Fish and Wildlife Service webpage to see if these geese are reportable.
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Canada Geese with neckbands

Canada Geese with neckbands

Last weekend I finally got a chance to see a few Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds in the gobs of Jewel Weed. Surprisingly they were not far from the south side entrance to the preserve, where I normally hardly see anything. The light was poor so I was not able to get anything sharper or more representative than what is below. I haven’t been able to catch the few hummers that have found my feeders either.

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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

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Below is a Chestnut-Sided Warbler looking nothing like its spring version.

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The turkeys always remind me of Joe Hutto and his book, Illumination in the Flatwoods, upon which the film “My Life As A Turkey” was based.
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Somewhere over the last few days my eyes grazed past an article I have not yet read, in the New York Times: “When Blogging Becomes a Slog.” Maybe I’m afraid to read it. However, there’s apparently an entire whole industry devoted to the phenomenon. I am not burned out on the blog yet, but it has become harder to find the time to devote to it, so I apologize if my posts are getting to be less frequent than twice a week. I am still trying to figure out how to balance life and the new work situation, and now the choir commitment. But I will keep coming  back here because in some small way, it’s good for the birds, and I realized years ago that what’s good for the birds is good for me.


14 thoughts on “Unexpected at the Portage

  1. The first photo, the Gray Catbird is beautiful!. Lisa, don’t worry about the blog so much, just do it when you feel comfortable and not under a deadline. Whatever you do is fine except abandoning your blog because you feel pressured. We love you here! Thanks for your post! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, H.J.! I think if I were an owl instead of a finch I would fare better (I lean toward the diurnal – which is why I am commenting from my work computer…oops!). 🙂

  2. Update to the Wild Turkeys!! Matthew C., one of the ebird vetters, wrote and asked me this morning where I saw them, and he just told me he found 5 of them today! So now they are official. 🙂

    • I still don’t know how you do it! Are you saying art is imitating life – that you would not be doing all these things you report about if it weren’t for the blog? I think I have a bit of a gray area leaning in that direction and I’m not so young. It’s an honor to share the blogosphere with you.

      • I definitely add things to my schedule if I have the time and opportunity that I think will provide interesting photos for the day’s post. I haven’t quite got to the stage where I only do things that are bloggable but I sometimes wonder if I really exist or if I am just a figment of my own imagination.

  3. It is great to get a surprise now and then. That is what keeps us coming back, right? But I can relate, my post aren’t as frequent as they were when I started blogging, when I posted almost daily. But like you, I feel an obligation of sorts to try to carry on, even though not as often. 🙂

    • You are still so prodigious – and you stay on topic more than I do! I strayed early from birds and music to birds and pictures and insects and one thing just leads to the next and the next leads to another… Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Bob. 🙂

  4. your Portage is always so full of surprises. I could and would love to write a little note about each of your photos..they are just great..but am pressed for time as I have an art show coming up and time is short..Enjoy your photos so very much..have a great evening..

    • Thanks so much for your gracious comments, Syl, you are so thoughtful. I wish you great success with the show. Sounds exciting but I am sure it is a lot of hard work…I wish I could visit you and see it. 🙂

  5. The turkeys always have such a great expression, they’re one of my favorite birds!
    Take it easy in the blog, I know I have trouble sometimes and find it’s easier to start clean and leave behind a couple weeks of photos instead of making it a job of catching up. There are other things to do after all!

    • Thanks, Frank! Yeah, it’s the other things to do that take priority and make fitting in the blog more of a challenge. Especially if it’s near or past my bedtime.
      As for the turkeys, there are only 3 counties in Illinois that do not have populations established and Cook is one of them, so I am eager to see if my discovery leads to further investigation on where they are hanging out. The Portage isn’t close to any other county line, and although turkeys can wander quite a distance…it seems this could be a local startup community. I’m excited!

  6. Great captures! We have catbirds now and then, I think their call is hilarious. And a couple of times I’ve seen the chestnut sided warbler. Wild turkeys can be nasty, there were a couple that lived near my brother’s house and they were always attacking his car.

    • About the turkeys, how weird. Yes, they’re big and I would hate to be on their wrong side. Wonder what it was about the car. I saw a Gray Catbird at the Thompson Center yesterday. It’s the worst green space, I don’t even know if I can call it that, full of garbage and cigarette butts.

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