My two days without Internet service are over. With enough access on my phone, I confess I hardly missed it. But now that I am able to publish photos from the camera again, I want to get this post out of my system.
I was thrilled to find a Winter Wren in my backyard on Thursday afternoon. I had been to the Chicago Portage in the morning seeing very little. And after about a week of seeing or hearing Winter Wrens every day I was not encountering them anymore. Then this little delightful creature showed up in my yard. My messy, full of trees, leaves and spent tall native flowers and grasses yard – just the place for a fall migrant. I think the wren was actually attracted to the remaining mess by the back fence where the tree stumps had been removed. When I have encountered Winter Wrens they often seem to be messing around in dead wood.
Here are a couple more fleeting photos of the Winter Wren.
I had first seen the wren when I went out to refill the birdbaths, so I went back in the house and grabbed the camera. It was a nice enough day to sit in the yard for half an hour or so and observe whatever activity was available. There was a predictable, endless stream of House Sparrows.
But then I saw something moving in the clump of spent flowers that had planted themselves just off the back porch stairs. It turned out to be a Nashville Warbler, which is late and therefore “rare” for this date. It wasn’t easy to see all that clearly but it is definitely a Nashville with that white eye-ring, gray cap and yellow body.
It occurred to me that, after all these years, this is exactly what I had in mind when I moved into my house and began by replacing the lawn with trees and native plants. I just wanted to attract birds. It seemed obvious to me at the time, but it was not initially very popular with City Hall or some of my neighbors. Perhaps awareness of the climate crisis and species extinction is tilting the scales more in my favor lately. I may even be participating in another garden walk next year. I hope so – it will motivate me to work in the yard more than I have been lately!
So was anything happening at the Chicago Portage on Thursday morning besides leaves?
There were a few – very few – birds. I am always excited to see an American Crow, of course.
And there were a few well-camouflaged American Goldfinches.
But in general, flora and colorful leaves provided the most interest. There was a small stand of some late-blooming Evening Primrose out in the middle of the marsh.
It would probably be enough to stop here, but I am going to move on to the next morning’s visit to Riverside, which produced more birds, and by the time I reached the health club to go swimming, a message on my phone saying my new router had arrived.
It is always good to see a familiar face in Riverside. This Great Blue Heron was present again just off the Hofmann dismantled-dam location.
Here’s a view of the Des Plaines River from the Joliet Avenue bridge, looking north.
As I stood on the bridge, I heard and then saw two Belted Kingfishers rise up and fly over. I was able to capture one of them.
The bird species of the morning, though, was definitely Golden-Crowned Kinglet – they were everywhere, in numbers.
By the time I reached the spot where I was about to cross the footbridge, just past the police and fire station, there were Golden-crowned Kinglets hugging the trees lining the path.
Walking along the river, it was hard to ignore Mallard males gleaming in the sunshine.
A couple more photos of the river and trees, which were hard to resist.
At Riverside Lawn, there weren’t a lot of birds, but enough to make a morning. I saw a distant but brightly-lit Red-bellied Woodpecker.
Dark-eyed Juncos were easier to see when they were preoccupied on the ground.
White-throated Sparrows were here and there.
And it’s always special to see a Fox Sparrow.
When I got back to where I park my car by the Hofmann Tower, I was happy to see a Great Egret in the river. As you can see, the water level is low.
Here are a couple more images from Friday morning.
It’s a season of change, from day to day. I will be back soon with more scenes from what has been an exceptionally beautiful autumn of birds and their surroundings.