I hadn’t been to LaBagh Woods for years, but I started thinking about it when it seemed I might have a good chance to see some Common Redpolls. They’ve been seen farther north and nearer to the lake than my territory. I used to see them on occasion downtown by the lake, but I didn’t see any the one day I went down for crows. So Saturday I just decided to get in the car and go, one day after our last snowfall.
It’s strange enough trying to remember the layout of a place you haven’t been to for a while, let alone covered in snow. But there were tracks in the snow to follow from the main parking lot.
There wasn’t a lot of light, but I guess the snow made up for that somewhat.
Early on I took photographs of a singular Redpoll and now, after developing them, it almost resembles a Hoary Redpoll. If that was the case, it would make it rather special as they are rarer. But I think it’s just a lighter-colored individual Common Redpoll. it’s really hard to tell.
There was a sign by the river. This is the north branch of the Chicago River. It dawned on me how remarkable it is to have a forest preserve in the middle of a city.
It was at that point that I encountered a fellow birdwatcher who had been there perhaps the day before but had come back to look for lost keys. He wasn’t wearing binoculars but of course I was and we sort of recognized each other as birders. He led me to the path that goes down along the river and pointed me in the direction of where he had seen the Redpolls earlier. As I started to walk, the layout became more familiar and I did encounter a small flock of Common Redpolls, Dark-eyed Juncos and an occasional American Goldfinch.
It was otherwise pretty quiet until I got down to the northern end where there are some houses that demarcate where the city starts again. Some of the houses have bird feeders. I was simply across the river from their backyards above, and there were several Common Redpolls high up in the trees. I was surprised I managed to hold my heavy lens that high and get photographs. It was simply delightful to hear their calls and watch them.
More Common Redpolls…
At least I managed a closer photograph of a Dark-eyed Junco.
One thing about LaBagh – I had never taken the highway to get there before, which may seem strange because it is right off the Edens Expressway. I have always gone the stop-and-go route through the city, but Saturday morning in January seemed like a safe bet to follow the GPS and take the expressways. Up until Saturday, I have long avoided going through the downtown area which is always congested and has become somewhat confusing due to construction, so I was shocked by the terrible condition of the road surfaces. I can’t imagine driving that every day. But at least traffic was moving and it only took me half an hour to get there and back.
More snowy scenes. The river was frozen and covered with snow except for a little open water under the bridge.
Here are a few more Common Redpoll shots.
I found a few Mourning Doves.
Beyond that I managed to get a brief photo of a Downy Woodpecker in flight after barely focusing on it exploring a tree stump. And one nice Hairy Woodpecker.
I was glad to renew my acquaintance with LaBagh Woods, which is named, incidentally, after Ella LaBagh who was a force for establishing the Forest Preserves of Cook County. LaBagh is a great place to see birds during migration and I will be coming back here more often in the spring.
As for snow, the current forecast is for a winter storm warning – Tuesday night through Thursday night. I managed to find some tube sand at the local hardware store this morning and scattered some on what were some icy spots on my walks. I had used up what sand I had from last year and decided I had better get more in anticipation of more snow and ice. The tube sand was 60 pounds – I thought my limit was 50 pounds – but I managed to get it onto my dolly and around to the back porch area. I prefer sand to deicer, I don’t care how environmentally friendly the chemicals are. I have also discovered the House Sparrows consider my front steps a destination for grit for their little gizzards, which is an added bonus to using the sand.
We usually have redpolls but I haven’t seen one yet this year.
Redpolls are kind of an irruptive species for us, although their appearance in the winter has become more reliable.
Pretty birds! We do get redpolls in the winter but it is more scarce for us, and I have never seen one yet.
Thanks, Donna! I wish I could have gotten closer, better light, etc., but it was one of those rare times when I could go to see some birds and actually manage to see them. They are pretty little birds. I haven’t mustered the energy to go after Snowy Owls, so this was my big irruption excursion. 🙂