I went to the Riverside trail on October 15. It was extremely cloudy and I had no idea what I could muster photographically under such conditions. I walked as far as I was going to go in one direction along the river and then turned back, and found a very green-looking warbler foraging low in front of me. When I got home to review my photographs, I could not for the life of me figure out what it was. I could only surmise what it wasn’t. The pale-looking eyebrow, the darker green primaries didn’t fit the Orange-crowned Warblers I was used to seeing.
After a good night’s sleep it occurred to me that perhaps the way to approach the bird’s identity was to look closely at the bill shape and size. Color and feather arrangement might seem changeable in a photograph but the bill shape would be constant. And that led me to thinking this was a Mourning Warbler.
As it turned out, when I opened my copy of The Warbler Guide, I found one small photograph that exactly matched my bird. She is a first-year female Mourning Warbler. I was excited as it has been years since I’ve seen a Mourning Warbler altogether. I added some of my photos to my ebird report and made the email-generated Cook County Rare Bird Alert (“RBA”) – I guess she’s a little late making her way south.
A distant Northern Flicker accented the cloudy background.
I have really become familiar with Orange-crowned Warblers this fall. And while I’m looking at bill size and shape, this species has a distinctly small, sharply-pointed bill. Some photos of an Orange-crowned Warbler are below.
For comparison, below are some more photographs of the Mourning Warbler.
Fall is a good time for woodpeckers.
Fall is also a good time for squirrels and nuts…
I have really enjoyed seeing Great Blue Herons here.
And Great Egrets were present too.
Only Mallards are showing up in the waterfowl department.
There are always some Northern Cardinals but this was not a good day to capture one.
The other bird that made the RBA was the Gray-cheeked Thrush below.
Golden-crowned Kinglets have been fun to follow the past couple weeks.
The river looks a little fuller than it did. I envision being unable to do this trail when we start getting a lot of rain…
Here are a few more photographs of the Orange-crowned Warbler who was my best model.
Below is a female House Finch.
I thought the Great Blue Heron against the clouds was worth capturing.
One more of a Northern Flicker…
I have been back to the Riverside trail twice since this cloudy day. We are finally starting to cool off. This morning the Great Egrets were all gone. To be continued… but now, I need to get ready for choir rehearsal.