Slowly Emerging from Winter’s Grip

We are still cold. The forecast hovers between rain with a little snow mixed in and sunny respites here and there – the last sunny morning was Friday, and we will have one more day of sunshine tomorrow. I will be indoors singing in the choir, but it will be good to have the sunshine streaming through the clerestory windows of Unity Temple: the forecast is for rain and snow every day in the week ahead.

I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. Last year we had a drought. We seem to be making up for it this year. In any event, contrary to my musings in my last post, the American Tree Sparrows have not yet left the Portage, and there are still a few Dark-eyed Juncos around too. There wasn’t much happening with perching birds yesterday so I took note of a few other things.

A dusting of snow from the night before
Blue sky
A little bit of green
Flooded bottomlands by the Des Plaines

I was encouraged to see and hear an Eastern Phoebe, albeit at quite a distance.

There are Americans Robins everywhere, but they were generally too busy for photographs. I often find one walking ahead of me, sometimes looking back waiting for me to make the next move.

The Brown-headed Cowbirds are back, and beginning their courtship rituals. Below, some photos of the standard configuration – two males and one female with her back to both of them.

There were Red-winged Blackbirds everywhere but they were often too busy to capture. It is nice to see the females getting ready to settle in.

Since there were still numerous American Tree Sparrows, I took a lot of photos. Just to make sure I won’t forget what they look like.

Song Sparrows were not as easy to capture but they will be around all summer, when I will try as ever to get a picture of one singing.

Then there’s the stuff that seems to be greening before everything else and drawing my attention to the thorns amongst the leaves. It looks like some sort of wild gooseberry but I haven’t nailed it down yet. Update: my faithful follower Ann has identified this as Ribes hirtellum, Wild Gooseberry. Thank you, Ann!

Now I’m going back to March 15, which by contrast was a cloudy day, but offered some nice photo opportunities.

Sometimes I just get lucky with these White-breasted Nuthatch guys. This time became a nuthatch overload.

Also memorable that day was seeing a male Wood Duck in the water.

And then, flying away…

A male Red-winged Blackbird offered a series of images.

I also captured a female in flight.

A pair of Song Sparrows perched for me.

And I had an elusive Black-capped Chickadee. They have been keeping a low profile lately but I expect to see them a lot as soon as the bugs and warblers arrive.

I can’t resist being stared down by a Dark-eyed Junco.

American Tree Sparrows were fewer in number than they have been in the last week.

One more American Robin on the ground.

With the forecast for rain and snow this week, I don’t know how often I will get out. Of course things can change. I just don’t want to repeat an exercise I went through one day last week when I went out the front door and came back in three times before I finally decided to take my chances. So I will likely be back with some older photos before I banish them to storage. I hope your days are getting greener.

13 thoughts on “Slowly Emerging from Winter’s Grip

  1. I love your word imagery of the Robin walking ahead of you and looking back at you. That is a very smart Robin to try to anticipate your next move.

    • Thank you so much, Babse. It reminds me that the first thing I noticed about birds when I became aware of them was how smart they are. So smart, in fact, we humans resorted to depicting “bird brains” as inferior to make us look smarter. Ha. I often wonder if the birds at the Portage recognize me for as often as I go there.

  2. Lisa,
    You’re right, it’s Ribes hirtellum, wild gooseberry. When we lived in MI and went to Pt Pelee NP in Ontario for the warbler migration, I’d see Ruby throated hummingbirds feeding on the flowers of this species, so keep an eye on them! We haven’t got much green here in Maine yet, only snowdrops, crocus and a hybrid witch hazel. (I haven’t checked for skunk cabbage yet though; I’m sure that’s up) Love seeing your photos.

    • Wonderful, thanks so much, Ann! I will be keeping my eye on the wild gooseberry since there seems to be a lot of it but it might be harder to keep track of once everything else has turned green and grown around it. I have a feeling the green is going to come suddenly this spring. I hope it’s soon!

  3. Lisa nice birds in flight pictures, especially the wood duck. We need to see a little more variety on the trail. Warmer weather will get here.

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