Back to the Slough

It was a nice weekend – two cooler mornings before the anticipated heat returned. I went to the Portage on Saturday morning and decided to visit McGinnis Slough Sunday. This is a brief summary of the McGinnis encounter.

There is very little water. Maybe it’s a little more water than last summer, but some birds I could always count on are not present. I saw no evidence of Trumpeter Swans, for instance. And last year there was a pair of Sandhill Cranes, but I haven’t seen any of those either. There was only one Great Blue Heron fishing close to the log where the Wood Ducks hang out. I could barely see anything through the reeds.

Later I managed a somewhat clearer picture of the Great Blue Heron and a couple deer.

I was surprised to see more people at the preserve than I expected, but I had forgotten that it was a holiday – Father’s Day – and beautiful weather, and why not? I got there fairly early anyway and first encountered a group of Tree Swallows.

This is always an attractive place for dragonflies and I found several beautiful Blue Dashers. I am always chuckling to myself as I try to do macro photography with a 100-400mm lens.

There were a lot of Song Sparrows singing. I only photographed this one, but recorded another briefly. Then at one point I just stood and recorded all the songs of several species I was hearing.

Song Sparrow song
Song Sparrow and Red-winged Blackbird singing
Marsh Wren, Red-winged Blackbird and Common Yellowthroat singing

I barely managed to capture a male Common Yellowthroat who had retreated to a perch inside a small tree.

At one point I noticed a Downy Woodpecker feeding its fledgling.

A young American Robin was looking out over the vast expanse of the slough from its perch near the path, as if to reflect upon the world now at its wingtips.

Another young American Robin caught my eye. More of a keeping cool perch.

The water alongside the trail going north

I kept hearing a Virginia Rail, but never even hoped to see it. I followed it with my ears as it moved around, at times not too far from the center lawn that juts out into the slough from the parking lot. Before I left, I sat at a picnic table there to cool off and just observe, when I caught a distant view of a Common Gallinule in my binoculars. It was nearly impossible to photograph but I tried anyway. I have never seen one of these here before. Perhaps this is an indication of the habitat changing.

There was a very tiny Least Skipper.

Least Skipper

And I was surprised this Chipmunk stuck around just long enough for me to snap its photo.

Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere but this female turned out to be my best photo op.

Here’s one more of a Blue Dasher.

I don’t know how much energy I will have tomorrow, but with any luck I will be back with more sleepy summertime photos. As luck would have it — tomorrow being the summer solstice and the longest day of the year — it may be the hottest day we have had so far. I almost look forward to the days getting shorter.

4 thoughts on “Back to the Slough

    • The worst part is feeling trapped inside the house because it’s too hot to be outside. I will go out anyway, briefly, but it’s not fun, only to do things like change the water in the birdbaths which have become very popular in this weather.

  1. Nice photos of the dragon flies. I admit I rarely stop to watch them. I see that the weather remains “warm” but it is still nice to get outside. Common gallinue is a great find. I am heading back east shortly and preparing myself for the heat. It got into the 70’s here yesterday. Hang in and keep taking pictures.

    • Have a nice, cool, safe trip back. Enjoy the lower temperatures as long as you can. There’s some rain in the forecast for tomorrow night but I’m not holding my breath. On the other hand the air quality is poor so maybe I should.

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