Back at the Chicago Portage

I walked around the Chicago Portage on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Against a quiet backdrop of very little activity, a few different species emerged.

I stayed home yesterday in part due to a tornado watch and also waiting all day for someone to never show up to check a leaky pipe in the basement. It was windy and off-and-on threatening anyway so it’s probably just as well I stayed in. I have already lined up a rainy day next week to wait again.

I heard Wood Ducks over the past couple weeks and had fleeting glimpses. Then on Thursday I saw one fly in, and when I got to the section of the water where he was headed, there were five.

I can’t ignore some American Robins when they don’t seem to mind me.

Tuesday was not a good day to photograph this Red-winged Blackbird but he was busy vocalizing in the gloom anyway.

The Dark-eyed Juncos are still around and they’re singing now too.

I haven’t heard American Tree Sparrows singing – I guess it’s because they’re quite far away from their breeding grounds. But they are still busy eating and storing up energy for their flight north.

It’s been a while since I have seen a Red-bellied Woodpecker well enough to photograph, although I usually hear one or two.

A distant Cooper’s Hawk was flying toward the water reclamation district property on Thursday.

Downy Woodpeckers are just plain cute

I was attracted to the contrasting plumage with this pair of Canada Geese.

Both days I saw a pair of Blue-winged Teal. I hope they continue.

And on Thursday morning a Belted Kingfisher was perched in the top of the tallest tree by the water. That’s a European Starling below him.

The palette is going to change soon, but I am still attracted to the black-and-white-and-brown birds.

American Tree Sparrow

Thursday as I was coming back along the inside trail, I saw a distant stream of about 200 Sandhill Cranes flying northwest – silently. They would have been easy to miss, except for there being so many of them relatively low in the air.

Bad light, but this time of year any bird could be different, and so few appear they each deserve my attention, like this female Red-winged Blackbird.

European Starling

Below, two Northern Cardinals and a Dark-eyed Junco on the paved part of the trail.

Periodically I have seen a White-throated Sparrow. This one was digging around in a mess of leaf litter until he flew up to a perch and sat a while.

We are supposed to get a break from the cold, gray, windy weather tomorrow morning, just in time for Choir Sunday. I am simply in love with the piece we are singing and looking forward to giving it my best. I remember being excited and moved by the last featured work we sang, but now I can’t remember what it was for the life of me. I have a feeling this music will be in my heart and head for a long time beyond tomorrow morning.

We made it to April.

8 thoughts on “Back at the Chicago Portage

    • Hi, Peggy. Ebird seems to think it’s in Lyons. I have also heard it called McCook. It’s a Cook County Forest Preserve just north of Harlem and I-55.

  1. Well even amidst the clouds and grey early Spring weather, the wood duck pictures are great. No great blues yet? Luckily I have been seeing about one a day this week.

    • Thanks, Bob. I haven’t seen any Great Blue Herons yet locally, but I haven’t been out every day either. They are inevitable and I expect to start seeing them soon. I suspect they are a couple places I haven’t been lately. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post Lisa! It helps me to know which birds have arrived and helps with my rudimentary ID skills.

    • Thank you. It’s been a bit more challenging capturing flying birds in the overcast but I was surprised when this one was at least recognizable.
      The concert piece was absolutely fabulous. Packed house, standing ovation, and bravi aside, it was wonderful to be a part of the whole effort. And I will be humming these tunes for a long time…

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