Two Strolls in Riverside

I was ready to do another 3-slice version of Portage visits but decided to break up the monotony with my last two Riverside walks. on March 11 and 16, respectively. The visit on March 11 was after a light snowfall. which may have been our last snow. We have warmed up off and on since then and right now we are getting some rain for a couple days so I hope to write a couple posts while I’m stuck indoors.

The snow fallen on the cobblestone path by the Hofmann Tower
Des Plaines River

This was the last time I saw waterfowl that weren’t Mallards or Canada Geese. There was a pair of Common Mergansers.

And a Common Goldeneye. These were the birds I had been seeing all along.

I did manage to find a couple Dark-eyed Juncos to sit still long enough. The one in the second photo had a little snow on him.

Here’s how the foot bridge looked with freshly fallen snow.

To my delight, when I looked down river, I saw some Red-breasted Mergansers.

There are seven of them in the photograph below. There might have been another underwater.

I did manage to get a closer look at a pair while I was on the other side of the foot bridge, or Riverside Lawn. First I saw the male, then the female popped up right next to him and then he dove, leaving her with a spash.

The last snowy scenes…

A pair of Downy Woodpeckers were hanging out together.

On March 16, the first bird I saw was this Cooper’s Hawk in Riverside Lawn but I was just about to cross Joliet Avenue from the Lyons parking lot.

Here’s how the river looked from the Lyons side.

It was cloudy again, which made for a pretty indistinguishable photograph of these six European Starlings.

The Des Plaines River from the other side of the Joliet Avenue bridge, and the paved walk.

The cloudy sky was variable.

I managed to capture a Mallard in flight and this lovely couple.

Also flying around were four Red-winged Blackbirds. They kept chasing around across the river and back again.

There was one lonesome Canada Goose at the bend in the river.

I’ve been seeing White-breasted Nuthatches lately instead of just hearing them.

There were quite a few Dark-eyed Juncos that day which probably made this one more relaxed.

I even managed to capture a female Northern Cardinal before she disappears into nesting season.

The highlight of my walk was more audible than visual. What I am sure is the same Song Sparrow who charmed me last time with two different songs this time sang four – or five, depending on whether you count variations as another song – distinctly different melodies from the two I recorded a week earlier. It was almost as if he was waiting for my return to sing a recital. You can hear all his riffs below. Song No. 2 has a Red-winged Blackbird in the background and Songs 3 and 4 have some White-breasted Nuthatch and Red-bellied Woodpecker. Not to be outdone, a Northern Cardinal chimes in on the fourth recording.

And he had his back to me the entire time, so I couldn’t get his picture. But what a singer!

Song 1 on 3-16-22
Song 2 on 3-16-22
Songs 3 and 4 on 3-16-22
Variations on Song 4/Song 5 on 3-16-22

So I didn’t see a lot of birds but it was an interesting walk. The decaying wood below caught my eye.

There’s more as we slowly but surely slide into spring. We are not done with cold weather but there are no hard frosts in the forecast for the next ten days so I am hoping we are at least done with that.

The Unity Temple Choir is going to sing live in the sanctuary this Sunday for the first time in two years. We had a great rehearsal Wednesday night with Keanon Kyles who is our remarkable operatic bass-baritone friend and he will be singing the solos and leading the hymns for the congregation, which will also be allowed to sing along, albeit masked, for the first time. I will miss going for a walk on what is predicted to be a beautiful sunny day after all this rain, but it will be worth it to sing again for the congregation. More sunshine is coming.

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