This post started out last weekend when we could finally see the promise of large piles of snow melting. I went to the Portage but didn’t get very far, the trails were not really passable in my estimation. And I was hardly even hearing any birds. So I focused on trying to get a few pictures of the birds in the yard. The American Goldfinches have been enjoying the thistle socks filled with new nyjer. The Downy Woodpecker below was likely tired of trying to drill into frozen suet so he was sampling from the peanut feeder instead.
I finally got to see why there was an unusual accumulation of peanut shells under the squirrel peanut feeder. Because of all the snow and cold, it wasn’t practical to waste energy taking peanuts away from the feeder and maybe stashing them for later, so the squirrels have been hanging upside down eating them as they take them.
So here’s what the Portage looked like last weekend, at least as far as I got.
Below is how the Portage looked yesterday. Still some snow, but not so bad. Bright and sunny, and even a few birds, although more heard than seen. I did see maybe 10 Red-winged Blackbirds but they were too far away to photograph. I heard them first. Some Robins were returning as well.
A nice-looking European Starling…
I heard this Brown-headed Cowbird singing before I saw him. Not easy to capture high up in this tree but his cap is glistening in the sun.
In the Des Plaines River, pretty far away, were several Common Goldeneye. I am surprised I was able to capture them – I seem to be having issues with macular degeneration in my right eye so it’s getting harder to focus. Time to make an appointment with the ophthalmologist. (Yikes – I thought I was a good speller but I just had to re-learn that word. More h’s than I imagined.) I vaguely remember him suggesting there were remedies if it started getting worse.
I was trying to follow a goose flying around looking for a way to join the geese and mallards in the marshy area of the Portage that had sufficiently melted. I was delighted to find I captured the median coverts on the wings flapping up to slow down for landing.
One more thoughtful pose from last week’s Goldfinches.
We are going to have a few days in the 60’s before we settle back into the 40’s and 50’s. The overnight temperatures still prohibit things like setting up the rain barrels and cleaning up the dead stalks where pollinators are still taking cover. But the hostas are starting to emerge green from the ground. The snow pack made the compost pile that much more beautiful – I admit I had no idea what would be going on underneath it. I’m going to clean up under the feeders today and look forward to more arrivals at the Portage next weekend. I hope your March is going well so far. In spite of everything, spring has a way of insisting upon renewal.
I liked your acrobatic squirrels. It must be good to get rid of the snow and iIhope that your compost heap has developed just as you would like to.
Beautiful captures, Lisa, it sure looks cold still, but glad to see things melting. That squirrel is funny!
Aw thanks, Donna. The snow is 99.9% gone today and we are 60 degrees. I’ve started cleaning up under the feeders and I’m glad the squirrels are behaving normally again! 🙂
‘median coverts’ -that is the coolest thing I will see today! I never even imagined that’s how they worked.
Good luck with the vision. I faced that back in my thirties. The doctors were mystified and I couldn’t help but wonder why everyone else there seemed so old. I don’t think they seem as old now 🙂
Glad you liked the median coverts! I confess I had to look them up to make sure – but I was so reminded of the flaps on an airplane landing.
Can’t believe you had to deal with that vision problem in your thirties – wow. It sounds scary compared to where doctors seem to be with it now. I hope you found a workable solution. The little chart thingy they gave me to put on my refrigerator and look at – a single black dot in the middle of a grid – still looks fine but my camera lens doesn’t lie. I have some dental work to finish before I go to the eye doctor. Beginning to feel like an old car. Keep it running. 🙂