What a surprise to visit the Chicago Portage Tuesday morning and find that there had been a controlled burn last Saturday. I had gone to McGinnis Slough that morning and remember passing by the Portage on the way back home and seeing a lot of vehicles in the parking lot. Although I think the intervention was long overdue, the timing couldn’t have been more precarious. The ground was still somewhat damp from all the earlier rain. But the subsequent hot, dry and windy forecast would have been prohibitive. Below are some views of the charred ground.
The female House Sparrow below was the first bird I noticed when I started walking from the parking lot. I thought the buds on the tree and the blue sky background made her look extra special.
An American Robin was by the first bridge, fluffing its feathers as if it had just taken a bath,
It was a beautiful day for photos of the regulars.
Later, when I was on the inside trail, the Belted Kingfisher saw me and took off.
But he soon surprised me by hovering and flying over the water, as if he was happy to give me a little demonstration of his technique.
A male Brown-headed Cowbird caught my eye,.
By the second bridge, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker put on a little show.
One Yellow-rumped Warbler paused just long enough for me to capture his image.
Two Canada Geese were flying back and forth.
Earlier the geese shared a log island with the turtles.
The turtles are ready for this weather. The Blue-winged Teal have been around for the last couple weeks, but I don’t always see them if they are tucked in to the vegetation by the shore.
I met a friendly White-throated Sparrow.
And I saw my first Eastern Phoebe.
I had gone to sit on a log by the shore off the inside trail, when a Bald Eagle flew over briefly.
We continue with hot, dry weather until late tomorrow night when the forecast is for cooling off, rain (I hope!) and then – wait, there’s more! – we are supposed to get some snow on Monday. I don’t think it will be with us for long because the temperatures are not likely to hit freezing, but this is really messing up with my plans to clean up my yard. All those insects that are starting to emerge will need a place to take shelter. In the meantime, however, I have been removing invasive Lesser Celandine from the backyard.
The Portage is already starting to come back through the ashes. I have much more to report and I will try to keep up the next few days.
Your weather seems to go up and down like a yo-yo. Is it always like this in spring or is this an odd year?
The contrasts are far more exaggerated than they used to be. It’s hard for me to remember past years but it seems to be getting worse. Or I could be noticing it that much more since I am not stuffed up in an office all day long.
I liked that you led with the Kingfisher before the controlled burn. Some nice shots of the sapsucker and great shots of the diving kingfisher. Let’s see if the weather system change brings a few more migrants down to visit Portage.
Thanks, Bob. You missed the excitement this morning – there were maybe a dozen or more people with the Cook County Sheriffs on a forensic expedition. The officer told me they were looking for evidence in a long gone cold case. I suspect it was a class. In any event I managed to share this information with several curious people I met on the trail. Also saw George and Pedro with his wife.
That must have been why we saw that policeman walking the grounds with a bag a few days ago. Did you put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and help them scour the grounds?
No, I figured I was doing enough telling people what they were up to and not to be worried. Although one dark-skinned runner I could not warn got as far as seeing the sheriff’s SUV and turned right around. I can’t blame him.