As exciting as it was to see the Osprey featured in my last post, there was even more going on last Wednesday on the Des Plaines River by Riverside, such as a rather unusual confrontation between a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret. It was surprising enough to see them together, but they were getting along until they weren’t. It has been so dry, the river is way down and I imagine the search for prey getting more contentious. Below is a series of photographs I took leading up to the one above.
The river was so low this past week, almost anyone could wade into the middle of it. Perhaps that was the animating force behind the Great Egrets moving around, trying to find the best place to fish when there was so little water. I captured the egret below perched on this debris-adorned rock after it had chased off the Mallard that was sitting on it.
Later on from the foot bridge I took this sequence of a Great Egret capturing its prey. This was several feet from the shore.
Cedar Waxwings are showing up everywhere lately. They’re about the only birds not on the river itself.
The Killdeer have been hanging out on the rocks by the Hofmann Dam all summer. They have multiplied.
Also on the rocks by the former dam, a Great Egret.
Seeing Common Grackles again down by the shore. This one was sporting several colors.
The Rock Pigeons caught my eye – flying in formation.
Canada Geese are starting to show up again.
Even House Sparrows were getting into the act in the river.
Mallards could stand in the middle of the water too.
Mourning Doves were noticeable above the river.
A few flight shots from two Great Egrets.
There were a couple Spotted Sandpipers with the Killdeer on the rocks but I was unable to capture them. However I did manage to zoom in on this one by the shore not far from the footbridge.
For a change of pace, a confusing juvenile bird which I determine to be a young Northern Cardinal.
These Blue-fronted Dancers are simply everywhere.
I think that about takes care of everything else on that day. I went back on Friday morning and the water was still low. We have since had some rain and I hope the river will look a bit fuller tomorrow morning when I plan to visit again.
One thing I am enjoying very much in my retirement and more-relaxed state of mind is encountering strangers and making new friends as I walk these places more often. Whereas before when I was working I was in a mental hurry to cram in as much birding as I could manage in my free time, weather permitting, I now feel freer to engage in conversation. I meet some lovely humans, learn some interesting things, and hope I am being a good ambassador for the birds.
A great day out, and the egret action shots are wonderful! Even in your relaxed state you managed to find quite a few interesting things.
Loved your last paragraph the best. Good for you!
Thanks so much, Frank! Actually when it comes to birds, the slower I move the more I see. And the birds have just made me a better person. I leave the flying to them. 🙂
I too liked the egret shots. Egrets are very beautiful birds.
The egrets on the river have been more numerous than the great blue herons for whatever reason and they now seem to have settled into their late summer tolerance for humans. I just have to be careful on sunny days – they’re so white they tend to disappear when I photograph them.
Some impressive pictures of the birds in flight. The low water appears to have reveled some of the debris that has accumulated in the river. I was hoping that one of the grackles would turn out to be a long lost nomadic American Dipper.
Thanks, Bob. Now you’ve got me trying to remember where and when I last saw an American Dipper. I guess I’ll find out whenever I get around to putting my old trip lists in ebird. As for the debris I didn’t feel like I had to draw any more attention to the tires or plastic crap other than not editing out of the photos. So the river is transformed when it fills up. Which it hasn’t yet.