After reading about someone’s trip to Goose Lake Natural Area on Saturday, I decided to drive up there Monday morning, weather permitting, as it has been a while since my last visit and as much as I try to drive less, I’m not flying anywhere so I can justify an occasional longer drive. I should have left earlier than 7:00 AM because with traffic I didn’t get there until almost 9:00 AM and it was getting warm already, but I still managed to hear enough birds if I didn’t see all that many.
As far as I can tell this area has not yet recovered from last year’s drought, so the birds are still farther away than they were a couple years ago. It would probably make more sense to carry a scope than a camera but when I’m alone and faced with that choice it’s easier to carry a big lens.
The first bird to greet me just after I walked through the woody area was a Yellow Warbler.
There were several Song Sparrows posing and singing and they were hard to ignore.
I did eventually record a bit of the song from the bird at the top of the post.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds are always the draw here, but again because of the low water levels, they were extremely hard to see. However I checked my ebird records and in previous years up to 2020 I saw more of this species in the month of July, so I will try to get back up there next month sometime. One reason for the increase will be juvenile birds taking wing.
If you can see a tiny black spot in the middle of the photo below, that is the view I had of the Yellow-headed Blackbirds this visit. Below that are several severely cropped photos of a few males flying around. About all you can see is the yellow head and black body.
By contrast Red-winged Blackbirds were predictably everywhere.
And a few had time to chase a Turkey Vulture.
Early on, a Northern Cardinal brightened up the landscape a bit.
At one point there was a Common Yellowthroat which was extremely backlit but discernible anyway. I heard many of them singing but could not get one to pose. This one was distracted by the insect prey in his bill.
I always expect to see Willow Flycatchers, and I did have three individuals in my photos, but I can’t recall having heard them and they weren’t always so easy to see.
I took a little snapshot recording while I was standing close to the observation deck. You can hear a Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens, a Crow, and maybe other species carrying on in this short clip. The wind noise is a bit distracting.
I found a Gray Catbird in the willows.
Brown-headed Cowbirds are suddenly more scarce. I am seeing individuals instead of gangs of males. I suspect their mission is complete for the year.
I walked quite a ways past the observation deck. Here’s what the trail looked like beyond that point. I have never walked all the way to the end (is there one?) but I walked a total of 3.40 miles. according to ebird.
There were not a lot of birds to photograph on this part of the walk, but I did see a Monarch Butterfly and a Painted Turtle.
I couldn’t help but notice some Prairie Spiderwort. I have some of this growing in my backyard.
A nice surprise on the way out was a perched male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. He was far away and backlit but cooperative.
So that about sums up my birding this week. I have errands to run tomorrow when it will still be quite hot but I trust by now the traffic lights are functional. I likely won’t get out for a walk until Saturday morning, but that’s okay. I am looking forward to the cooler forecast.
I have always liked taking a ride and walk through Goose Lake. Early summer birding can surely be a challenge. I love the hummingbird shots. I have yet to see one this year. I saw my first woodcock there many years ago. It flushed in front of me, both a little startling and most rewarding.
I think you’re talking about the other Goose Lake in Grundy County – so easy to confuse – but I will be going there too next month on my annual quest for Dickcissels. I think I have seen a Woodcock at Goose Lake Prairie, I can’t remember when though, it’s been a long time. I saw my first Woodcock dead on the street in downtown Chicago before I had any idea what it was. A man who picked it up in his hand identified it.