Winter Walks on the Tame Side

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Black-Capped Chickadee, Millennium Park

Reveling in a rather rapid recovery, it feels good to get out again and walk with the camera, even if I’m not running into anything too remarkable to photograph. So here are a few park birds from last week’s afternoon walks to Millennium Park, and some Mainly Mallards from today’s visit to Brookfield Zoo.

I didn’t expect much from the Zoo, and it was probably bad timing to go in the early afternoon anyway, but I wanted to get out somewhere and walk. I am trying to get plenty of sleep so I can continue healing and not get messed up before the St. Odilo Festival Choir concert which happens next Sunday. As we get down to the wire, all these songs have been running through my head nonstop and I want to stay focused and be in the best shape I can offer.

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Brookfield Zoo

Camel Brookfield Zoo 1-18-15-0561The challenge presented by colder weather is finding open water. Even though we have had temperatures above freezing the last three days, the Des Plaines River was still frozen everywhere I drove past it, and shallower bodies of water were certainly no better. The zoo has some water aerated in the middle of their pond, but it wasn’t enough to attract anything but about 85 Mallards, 6 Canada Geese, and the one Trumpeter Swan that lives there. The Trumpeter Swan was napping and I did not want to disturb it.

Mallards and Canada Geese Brookfield Zoo 1-18-15-0600

I stood quietly surveying the ducks to see if I’d missed anything, and soon the Mallards started flying over the path to the feeder on the other side. In years past I got some pictures of them flying, but I didn’t want to disturb them too much by pointing that big lens at them, so I mainly just watched everyone and didn’t even bother with the smaller birds that occasionally visited the hanging feeder. I might have made more of an effort eventually as the birds were getting quite used to me, but when a man walked by fairly briskly, he flushed all the Mallards, and they flew back to the pond, some nearly missing crashing into the trees.

Mallards Brookfield Zoo 1-18-15-0575After that the path takes you away from any view of open water, so I looked for birds anywhere along the sides of it, but could see only a young doe.

Doe 1-18-15-0606It might have been better to have a smaller lens. As it is, I am considering buying an extender for the 100-400mm because I can’t picture carrying the monster lens with me when I travel at the end of March.

The cardinals in Millennium were happy to see me last Monday while it was still quite cold and overcast. Even the hen, who usually tries to hide, eventually came down from her perch and sampled the seeds I brought.

NOCA 1-12-15-0215NOCA 1-12-15-0284Other than the two cardinals, there wasn’t much else to photograph that day.

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Maggie Daley Park in the clouds

By Thursday, the cardinals had left that spot but there were still plenty of American Robins eating berries.

AMRO 1-15-15-0300The most cooperative birds were the Black-Capped Chickadees I saw on Friday. This one came closer to the camera and posed for me.

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BCCH 1-16-15-0553I hope the lake has thawed enough to host some ducks. Now that I can hike again, I will try to make it down there tomorrow before it freezes over again.

10 thoughts on “Winter Walks on the Tame Side

  1. I’m glad that you’re feeling better Lisa, just make sure that you’ve healed completely before you put some stress on it. Take care! Nice shots! 🙂

  2. Glad to hear you’re feeling better.
    If mallards weren’t so common I think they would be appreciated much more considering how beautiful they can be! Nice to hear that you’re just observing the birds. Sometimes it’s hard to just soak it all in without being concerned about the next shot and the ones you missed.
    Good luck for next Sunday!

    • Thanks so much, Frank! You’re right about the Mallards – but it was the fact that I knew I’d probably see them again that made getting photographs take the back seat. I just like hanging out with birds. I especially love to watch Mallards walk in pairs, they have this regal aura about them. As for the choir, I’m afraid I might go through choir withdrawal after it’s over.

  3. I am glad that you could get out. I hope you find an extender works well for you if you get one. I have struggled to get the best out of mine. More practice is needed.

    • I figure all I can do is try it. At least I know what I can do without it, with the 100-400. We have been asked to not check any bags so I will be traveling a lot lighter, and I have visions of packing lenses with my socks.

    • Thanks so much, Jason. I don’t know if they’re Hawthornes, they might be, the berries look like it (I’m very bad at trees). These trees are right at the northwest corner of the entire park. I’ll have to pay closer attention to them now!

  4. I love those chickadee photos, Lisa. Hope you get healed. Incidentally, if you get an extender for your 100-400mm lens, be aware you might have to manual focus. 🙂

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