I began writing this post while I was sitting here with the sun pouring through the half-closed slats of the blinds, the curse of facing east in the morning, artificially cooled by the fans and air conditioning going more often than I’d like to maintain an inside temperature of 80 degrees. I paid the Chicago Portage a visit Monday and before that on Saturday, when the morning temperatures were much cooler, but decided to stay home yesterday, worked in the yard for brief periods, and gave my recuperating knee a rest. At least I have shade in the backyard. We are in the middle of a hot, dry spell again. The later-week predictions of rain have disappeared.
Oh – that beautiful male Eastern Towhee at the top of the post – I encountered him briefly right off the trail. It’s the second time I’ve seen him in the past couple weeks.
Monday as I was putting my camera and backpack in the hatch of the car, I looked up to see a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird first check the front yard, then zip over to the feeder on the porch and then over the roof toward the backyard where there are three more feeders. I haven’t seen a hummingbird for weeks, maybe months. That proved to be a good sign. When I got to the first bridge at the Portage, although very distant and the photos below are severely cropped, I did see a male Ruby-throat, perched on a dead tree over the water from where I stood.
I hoped to see a hummingbird again, perhaps in the Red Bee Balm that is in bloom, but did not.
After the hummingbird left, I spotted one American Goldfinch on the same tree.
Whereas on Saturday, I spotted five distant American Goldfinches trying to brighten up the gloom.
Monday was bright and sunshiny with most birds still at a distance. An American Robin and a Red-bellied Woodpecker share this frame.
The Prairie Coneflower, below left, is starting to bloom. It’s one of my favorites at the Portage. I still haven’t figured out the other yellow flower.
There are a lot of American Robins here even when you don’t see them. Below are two juveniles. The second photograph, taken in the mulberry tree, indicates the berries aren’t quite ready yet. I expect when they are ripe, flocks of Cedar Waxwings will join the Robins.
Here’s a Robin I managed to follow as it decided what to do with its catch.
There are quite a few Blue-fronted Dancer damselflies. I wish this one had chosen a better-looking place to rest.
I was intrigued by the new growth starting from a long-dead fragment of log poking out from the bottomlands through the fence.
Here’s what it looked like after the rain, back there on Sunday. I’m sure it’s all dried out now.
Sunday was not a great day to photograph Indigo Buntings but this one picked an interesting perch.
As a contrast, there was too much light on Monday.
The brightness did justice to two butterflies, a Silver-spotted Skipper and a Red Admiral.
I was surprised to see what had been an iconic dead tree by the second, or northernmost bridge, broken in half as it was a magnet for nesting Northern Flickers. I could not locate what happened to the rest of it.
The most interesting bird on Saturday was a Peregrine Falcon perched at quite a distance from where I stood across the water. When I got a bit closer to it, it fixed its gaze on me. Alas we grew bored with each other and I was looking elsewhere when it finally took off, missing a flight shot.
On Monday one Pearl Crescent became two.
I felt lucky to see an Eastern Wood-Pewee as I usually only hear him, but I didn’t manage to get him in great focus. Oh well.
Tadziu was on territory Monday.
I haven’t been able to find a Red-winged Blackbird anywhere at the Portage although I know they exist. So I had to settle Monday for a female Brown-headed Cowbird as a substitute blackbird.
A bucolic young rabbit with a couple Robins on the path.
Early Monday I encountered a very young deer.
It looks like the Elderberry is going to have ripe fruit soon too. Let the fun begin. I have just planted one of these in my backyard and I expect it won’t produce fruit for a while but I look forward to watching it grow.
A view of Tadziu’s bridge through the trees.
There is simply a lot of Tall Bellflower in bloom here.
One more of the Peregrine Falcon.
I’m not going out walking every day in this heat – more like every other day or so. There’s plenty to do around the house and in the yard. And there is that book. I had a revelation the other day while I was swimming, I think. Water has always inspired me, even doing dishes over the sink. That and sometimes while I’m playing piano for the birds. Anyway I think I fit some puzzle pieces together in my head so I am going to write a synopsis tonight and tomorrow which will give me a roadmap.
More to come. Still trying to fill up these longer days while we have them.
The Portage is filled with birds and wildlife, despite of the hot weather. Great photos, Lisa. 🙂
Thanks, H.J.! Yep that’s the surprise. I can’t expect to see anything, so when I do it’s that much more special. 🙂
A very enjoyable and diverse post. The birds, especially the falcon and towhee were pleasant surprises. I enjoyed the vegetation and some of your more detailed additional reflections about them. I did see the tree by the bridge and wondered where the flickers would find a new home. I have spent time over the years on the bridge watching them.
Thanks, Bob! I have an earlier photo or two of the towhee with the hen and one juvenile that I have to include at some point. I’m planning on going back to the Portage tomorrow morning before the melting point. 🙂
You have had a lot to see on your walks. I hope that your ideas come together in a satisfactory way for your book.
Thank you! New discoveries every day… now, just to keep track. 🙂