Celebrating the Chicago Portage

Apologies for not getting this done sooner, but it’s just been a week. I had hoped to come up with a more interesting post. For an inaugural event, the 350-year celebration was a very pleasant day. I think we all agreed that the event was under-publicized, but perhaps it was just as well for a first-time affair. I am curious to see how the Chicago Portage and this event continue to evolve and I have so much more to learn.

The photo at the top of the post is of a Common Whitetail Dragonfly sitting on the same piece of wood where the Green Heron in my last post was feeding on them.

The photos directly below are of the set-up for the reenactment lectures that were presented throughout the day.

Earlier in the morning before the festivities began, Bob and I looked for birds. The few we saw were too far away to photograph, even with a long lens.

Northern Cardinal female

Indeed, my best subject was this Chipmunk scaling the bark of a hackberry tree.

We were done birding for the morning until I noticed this American Kestrel perched in a dead tree. I had no idea that I would see this bird again later.

I wish I had taken more photos of the activities, but I never caught the reporter bug, and I tend not to take photos of people. It’s enough for me to ask for a bird’s permission.

Bob and I attended John Langer’s first talk about the history of the Chicago Portage, which John offered throughout the day for latecomers. He is truly devoted and indefatigable! I followed John’s group for a while when he took the tour on the trail, and I quickly realized that I learn something new every time. There is so much to know about the Portage, I now must try to attend more presentations.

I did sit in on part of the reenactment of Marquette and Joliet’s discovery, but I was starting to fade. Then around 1:00 PM or so I went on a nature walk with two naturalists whose names I neglected to note. If this is indeed going to be an annual event I will have to be better prepared next time. One of the experts found this praying mantis, which he said was a Chinese species. I don’t think I have seen a praying mantis at the Portage before. Something else to look for!

But then I haven’t seen clover there before either. Just one flower.

Thanks to Cynthia for holding the sedges up so I could photograph them with my cell phone. Unfortunately I did not manage to name the images simultaneously so I will have to do some research. I just bought a couple books on sedges and grasses. It looks like a perfect way to go down the rabbit hole.

Then I have to figure out this grass that is growing in the stream.

This grass was planted by the Friends of the Chicago Portage. Who knew?

One more photo of the Common Whitetail.

As we were walking, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew overhead.

Toward the end of the walk, as we stood talking, we noticed an argument between a Blue Jay and likely the very same American Kestrel I had seen earlier.

The Kestrel was not amused.

These photos are in the order that I took them.

Finally, the Blue Jay prevailed and the Kestrel left.

It somehow seems fitting that the last bird I saw and photographed before I left was a Turkey Vulture.

We are heating up this week. I don’t know how much birding I will be doing, but the pool where I swim will also be closed for cleaning, which is disappointing to say the least. I will try to see if I can swim somewhere else. If not, maybe I can make better use of my time while sitting on the futon. At least I won’t be falling asleep processing too many photographs.

There have been some interesting birds over the past week and a half and I hope to be back to this page sooner. Thanks for coming along.

8 thoughts on “Celebrating the Chicago Portage

  1. What an interesting sequence you took of the Kestrel/Blue Jay interaction! I wonder what the Jay was thinking/defending? (Maybe just a normal mobbing reaction to a predator?)

    On the subject of sedges, I ruefully remember the unit on sedges at the UMinnesota Field Biology Field Station at Lake Itasca. Let’s just be kind and say I found it “challenging”.😉

    • I have no idea what sparked the Blue Jay/Kestrel business, and I wasn’t even completely aware of what was going on as I started to follow it with the camera!
      As for the sedges, the naturalist warned us of continual confusion. I have no interest in becoming an expert, but like the praying mantis, I am just amazed by how much goes unnoticed by me. 🙂

  2. A nice needed and I am sure appreciated overview of the Celebration at Portage.The history of this area and events are both interesting and informative. I as well enjoyed John’s presentation. Nice shot of the praying mantis. Wish you well and learning about all the grasses and sedges. You have a “warm” week to begin your research!

    • Thanks, Bob. I can feel the heat already. Juggling the idea of terribly hot weather probably makes it even worse. Having said that, I bought a week pass to swim in Orland Park so at least I’ll get some exercise. Funny, I forgot how warm (seriously) their pool is!

  3. Lisa,
    Thanks so much for your participation in the Portage Day 350 year Celebration!
    Being on the nature walk with you and the other two Naturalists was a joy – the combined knowledge base was staggering!
    The two naturalists were Gary Morrissey, Master Naturalist, with the BackYard Nature Center and volunteer with Cook County Forest Preserve and West Ridge Nature Preserve and Derek Ziomber, North Branch Field Organizer with the Friends of the Forest Preserves. I had so much fun and learned so much. I love how you were able to capture the BlueJay – Kestrel match. They must have been waiting for us and you and your lens, to put on their own show for Portage Day.

    • John! Thank You so much for all your effort and expertise which made this event so memorable, and for contacting me in the first place and inviting me to participate. If this is to be an annual event, I will be thinking about what else I can contribute all year.
      Thanks so much too for identifying the naturalists. I am taking note of them and I hope to encounter them again. I feel so lucky to have the Portage and all the people, along with the birds, who are devoted to it.
      So now you can understand why I schlep that lens around with me. You just never know when something unexpected will occur with birds!

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