Chilling on the Fourth

The week so far has seemed surreal. Last Sunday, the day Linda and I played flute and piano music for Unity Temple’s superb shared pulpit service led by Charlie Hoch, an all-day downpour began just shortly before I left the house to pick up Linda and arrive by 8:30 AM. But oh, how we needed the rain. The US Drought Monitor hasn’t been updated yet but I suspect we are at least out of “severe” drought now.

In my suburb the accumulation was reported at 9 inches. There were flood warnings lighting up my cellphone, but I was not worried. I have so many trees and native plants, I did not have one drop of water in the house. Both rain barrels were full. So was a previously empty plastic gallon bottle sitting next to them for handy refilling of the birdbaths. The next day, my front yard was abuzz with bees and other pollinators as the flowers had also taken a drink and opened.

The photos in this post were taken in Riverside by the Des Plaines River on June 19, and from my front yard this morning. I am trying to write this post while the bombs are going off in the neighborhood. At least that’s what it feels like. I hate fireworks. I am not looking forward to finding fireworks debris in my yard tomorrow. I can’t imagine how the wild animals tolerate this idiocy. My indoor birds have always been very good sports about it. They seem less bothered by the noise. I suspect they consider humans generally noisy anyway and they just deal with it much better than I do.

Back to the subject… So when I took the photos in Riverside, the Des Plaines River was very low. Gulls seemed to consider this an opportunity. I followed the Ring-billed Gull below as it caught something in the river, close to the Joliet Avenue bridge.

I started noticing Cliff Swallows nesting in the holes in the wall left after the removal of the Hofmann Dam.

I didn’t realize until I went through these photos that I saw a Herring Gull that day. They are less frequently seen than the Ring-billed Gulls.

Also not far from the bridge was a female Red-winged Blackbird.

The birds that seemed to be especially enjoying the low water level were Common Grackles. Below is a series of photos as I saw one bathing in the shallow water.

A pair of Mallards claimed a no-longer-submerged rock as their own.

Across the river in Riverside Lawn, a hollowed-out fallen tree caught my eye.

When I crossed the foot bridge there was a Double-crested Cormorant in the water. I wondered how well a diving cormorant could fish in such shallow water. As if in answer to my question, the cormorant started to take off for another location.

Taking note of some year-round residents. Below, a Mourning Dove and a Blue Jay.

The Common Grackle below had a rather large stick in its bill. I never saw what it did with it.

There are a couple places with fallen logs by the river on the Riverside Lawn side where I can sit and watch the birds. I had been noticing this one Tree Swallow that seemed to have a nest in a tree stump on the other side.

Back to the Common Grackles.

Suddenly a fledgling appeared. The parent bird was not pleased. Maybe it was time for the youngster to find out how to forage for itself.

I saw a couple Gray Catbirds that day. The disheveled one looks like a newbie.

Back by the exposed rocks near the Joliet Avenue Bridge was a Killdeer.

This morning, before the heat and the noise, I took a quick peek at the front yard. Below is a nice bunch of Silene Stellata – Starry Campion. I am puzzled because I have never seen this before. It’s a native, so I’m not worried. But I did not plant it. I wonder if there is an outside chance that the person who planted my front yard however many years ago had it in the mix and it never managed to express itself until now, but that seems beyond belief.

A Red Admiral was enjoying the Purple Coneflowers.

I also have a few Pink Coneflowers but I am not sure if they are blooming yet or maybe I just can’t tell the difference. I’m just so happy to see so many bees.

The bees were also busy with the Shrubby Saint Johns Wort. The blossoms don’t seem to be as full as usual but maybe more rain will take care of that.

I was delighted to see a female Widow Skimmer.

Also, I planted a little Bergamot last year and this morning I noticed it is now in bloom. I had this flower in the backyard years ago and it didn’t last after the trees grew and cast too much shade. I am glad to have it back again.

Briefly, in the backyard, buds abound but less is in bloom at the moment. By July 22, the day of the Wild Ones West Cook Garden Tour, there should be a riot of color mainly orchestrated by Tall Ironweed that wants to take over the planet. Below, some Rudbeckia, I think it’s fulgida, a/k/a Brown-eyed Susan, and blossoms on the quickly growing Elderberry I planted just last year.

I will be back with more of this sort of thing as the month progresses. Right now all I care about is an end to the fireworks. Every time there’s a lull I think, could it be over? Not yet as of 11:30 PM.

6 thoughts on “Chilling on the Fourth

  1. Well the summer scarcity of water seems over for now. A good thing even if I did miss it. I am outside in upper 50 degree weather at Lakeside Montana waiting for the 11:00 fireworks show down the lake to start. Good to see the flowers beginning to really pop and get ready for your Garden Walk. Maybe the increased water will bring a few more birds to the Portage.

    • We’re supposed to get more rain tonight. Sounds like you had a great place for fireworks. I will drop in at the Portage sometime in the next few days and see what’s up.

  2. I am sorry about the fireworks, but pleased about the rain. I read about floods in Chicago and thought of you but you seem to have come out of it very well. Your yard looks interesting to say the least.

    • We are in the midst of thunderstorms and more downpours tonight. It may be too wet in the morning to work in the yard, let alone walk anywhere. It’s nearly a “be careful what you wish for” moment.
      The front yard was more circumspect years ago before the milkweed moved in, followed by the goldenrod, some of which, believe it or not, I actually removed but the pollinators are having a great time and since I have seen a Monarch Butterfly in the milkweed the last 2 days I don’t dare remove any of it.

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