Spring Starts at the Slough

I have been to McGinnis Slough twice this month – on April 8 and this past Sunday, the 23rd. It’s been such an on-again, off-again spring, it’s really hard to imagine, let alone anticipate, what to expect. But I always find a visit to this site full of potential surprises.

It was warm and sunny on April 8, and there were even some dragonflies I could not capture with the camera, but it certainly seemed like spring was imminent. The dominant species in the water – Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, and American Coots – were still present two weeks later, with a few additions. But the visit on the 23rd was cold and cloudy, which presented some extra challenges.

There are a lot of Northern Shovelers. Their numbers are exceeded perhaps only by the American Coots. But it has been hard to get a close view of them. They were a bit closer on the 23rd, when the light was less forgiving.

But I did manage to capture them in flight on the earlier visit.

I often inadvertently flush the Coots out of the marshy areas as I walk by, but for whatever reason I was able to capture a few of them somewhat closer than usual.

Blue-winged Teal have been everywhere this spring.

I managed to get quite close to a pair of teal nestled by the back end of a Canada Goose. You can’t see the birds very well, but I found the exposure of the preening male’s feathers fascinating.

Two more Blue-winged Teal photos.

I adore Pied-billed Grebes. They always look like they’re smiling, if rather sardonically. I was very close to a couple of them on the earlier visit.

The slough has greened up considerably in the last two weeks.

I managed to grab a few photos of a small group of Bufflehead on the last visit.

Also last Sunday, one Great Blue Heron testing the chilly water.

There were a considerable number of Ring-necked Ducks this last visit, but they were too far away to capture well. This was the best I could do from a distance.

Ring-necked Ducks

The Mallard drake below was likely guarding his nest location.

Red-winged Blackbirds simply own the marsh.

Black-capped Chickadees were enjoying the warm sunshine on my earlier visit.

The obligatory American Robin

I have seen Tree Swallows off and on all month, but mostly on the warmer days.

I always expect to see Wood Ducks here, but they are a bit more secluded right now. In a month or two they should be easier to find hanging out on their favorite fallen log.

Just another reminder that it is nesting season already.

Common Grackle
Blue-winged Teal

It was cold and rainy this morning. I kept arguing with myself about going out for a walk anyway, as soon as the rain stopped. The rain, as miserable as it is with the cold, has not been a downpour. But it has kept me in, and now the day is getting away from me. This afternoon, Linda and I have our likely last rehearsal before we perform in the 2023 Spring Music Festival. The run-through is Friday night and the actual event Saturday evening. It will be our comeback performance after the 2019 SMF.

I have many more observations to share from my other two most-frequently-birded locations, but the balancing act between musical endeavors and spring migration will be a bit more sporadic this week.

6 thoughts on “Spring Starts at the Slough

  1. Well, now that Spring and Summer have passed quickly it was nice seeing those ducks. They must be heading south to beat the onset of this winter weather. I do like shovelers and as always enjoyed all the pictures. Having just returned from the south I did see some Carolina’s (wren and chickadee) along with numerous fish crows. But, now I get to enjoy all the winter birds.

    • Welcome back. If it’s any consolation I saw about 30 Chimney Swifts over the Des Plaines River yesterday. But yes, it is depressing to see the forecast for the rest of this week and all of next. I suspect we will skip spring and go straight into summer. 🙁

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