Spring Migration Continues

Even if the temperature doesn’t seem springlike lately, the trees are starting to leaf out, the birds are returning, and there is every other indication that spring is here. And now that the Spring Music Festival is over, I wonder if I will stop having occasional ancient dreams about performing because I have actually done so. It was good to be “back in the saddle again” to quote from our minister Emily’s opening monologue as she was the perfect emcee for the event. She actually played guitar and sang her own version of “Back in the Saddle Again” to reflect the novelty of a return to this tradition after a three-year pandemic-induced delay.

For the moment, we are experiencing a lot of rain, the complete antithesis to last year’s drought. I managed to visit Riverside Lawn yesterday but it’s likely I will not return immediately. In the back of my mind I anticipated flooding would happen eventually. Below is a portion of the trail I encountered.

Beyond that it’s been cloudy and chilly, so lack of light has been an issue especially focusing the camera with my old eyes. And I still manage to take too many photographs. This is a combined post of photos from yesterday and my visit on 4/29.

The most beautiful sight was at least 50 Chimney Swifts circling around the bend in the river. If you click on the photos below you might be able to see some of them – it was impossible to capture them all as they moved about quickly and then dispersed. I thought there were more than 50 but ebird pushed back on “60” and since I couldn’t possible count them individually for as quickly as they moved I settled on an acceptable number.

Green Herons have also returned to the area. I have seen two at the Chicago Portage in the last week but haven’t been able to photograph them well yet. With all this water I am confident I will see them again in sunnier and greener conditions. These photos are from the 29th.

On both days I saw a few Solitary Sandpipers in the fluddle close to the paved path in Riverside.

I know I said I was not going to bother with photographing Palm Warblers but with not much else standing out in the gloom, if they were close and still they became irresistible.

Great Blue Herons always manage to blend in, whatever the light conditions.

But then sometimes they take flight.

All this gray made paying attention to a lovely Yellow Warbler that much more attractive.

A few more soggy scenes from yesterday’s Riverside Lawn trail.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are still present. With barely a hint at a ruby crown.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers abound.

On the 29th, not far from the Hofmann Tower in Lyons, I spotted a Peregrine Falcon. At first it had its back toward me but then it turned around. I speculated later than the Hofmann Tower would be a perfect nesting spot with built-in pigeons to feed the chicks. But this could also explain why I haven’t seen a lot of pigeons up there lately.

It was time for a stretch before it took off.

After the Peregrine Falcon nothing seemed too exciting but I am out there to observe whoever shows up. Like a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Blue Jays rarely sit still, so when this one did…

I barely captured what appeared to be a bedraggled Swamp Sparrow.

A Chipping Sparrow also in hiding.

This Northern Cardinal needs no introduction.

The last time I saw the pair of Red-breasted Mergansers that have been in the river at this point was on the 29th.

I haven’t seen a House Sparrow scaling a wall in a while.

This Robin had a beautiful song. And yes, if you listen, there are some Canada Geese in the background.

American Robin singing

A Black-and-White Warbler was foraging low.

There are gong to be a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds if these females stick around.

All the rain has produced some interesting fungus
There’s still a pair of Blue-winged Teal.
Male American Goldfinch

Apologies for the Long Post but I anticipate so many more photos to come – and I still have quite a few left from other recent outings – and what better way to spend part of a too rainy day? I hope to be back soon,

They’re Here

I saw some birds this week – in between practicing for the Spring Music Festival which will occur tonight. We had a rehearsal/run through last night and I survived. At least people like the song, so I guess that’s a good indication of something.

We canceled our scheduled walk at Columbus Park this morning because the weather was potentially threatening with the possibility of thunderstorms. We will more than likely have that kind of weather later tonight as we warm up to 70 degrees. But the overnight lows are still predicted to be in the 40’s for the coming week, which delays the yard cleanup even further.

These photos are from Monday at the Chicago Portage. I warn you, there are Way Too Many of them. The warm wave from the two days before brought migrants into the area. It was cooler on Monday so a lot of birds were foraging for food on the ground, like this Pine Warbler sampling seeds on the asphalt path.

Believe it or not these photos are of two separate individuals. I couldn’t capture them close enough to each other for a group photo.

The one Pine Warbler in the trees at first was not recognizable to me, but it turned out to be a Pine, albeit a drab one. The photo of the undertail helped me identify it.

A few more of this bird. Either way, it blends right in with the wood.

Palm Warblers have been all over the place in great numbers. it has gotten so that after taking all these pictures I haven’t bothered much with any of them the rest of the week.

I barely managed a few fuzzy photographs of the Black-and-White Warbler below.

it was delightful to see the return of a Yellow Warbler. One or two always stays the summer at the Portage so I expect to see this species again.

Warblers were not the only thing going on. There were lots of Chipping Sparrows, albeit most of them on the ugly asphalt.

There were a few group photo opportunities.

Palm Warbler and Chipping Sparrows
Chipping Sparrow and Field Sparrow

There were one or two Field Sparrows and then quite a number of White-throated Sparrows through the break in the fence.

Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

I saw my first Baltimore Oriole of the year. My feeder will go up tomorrow. As you can see he wasn’t moving much.

Vocally and actively, the Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are back. The lack of light emphasized the the Gray half of their name.

Here’s what the sky looked like that morning.

I had a cooperative White-breasted Nuthatch doing his thing.

Male Northern Cardinals are a little easier to photograph these days as they advertise their territories.

But the lack of light kept everything pretty cool-looking.

In her elusive stage, I managed half of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

My volunteer American Robin. They are all over the Portage now.

The Yellow-rumped Warblers were the first to show up, but now their numbers are diminishing.

The return of water this year is making the place attractive to waterfowl again.

Blue-winged Teal and Canada Geese

It would have been nice to see the rest of the bird below, but I think after going back and forth between Hermit Thrush and Swainson’s Thrush, it’s the latter.

Northern Flickers are determined to not be seen and this one wasn’t any different.

The Great Egret stopped by to see if conditions were conducive to fishing. I can only assume the sight of me changed its mind. But it was back the next day, on the bank of the stream.

I can only imagine what these Mourning Doves were up to. If that’s the male on the right, his neck feathers are iridescent…

I think these are flowers of a Box-elder Maple Tree. I found them attractive.

So thanks to the canceled bird walk and my nap, I was able to finish this offering. If you made it all the way to the end of this post you are a rock star! I must go back to my chores and prepare for this evening’s performance. I hope to be back again sooner after all this. Thanks for checking in and Happy Spring!

A Cloudy Morning in Riverside

We are rainy and still warm today so perhaps these photographs from Wednesday won’t look out of place. The forecast was similar to today’s, albeit almost twenty degrees cooler, but it didn’t rain while I was out. I nearly dashed out this morning when the sun broke through the clouds because spring migration is picking up, but I am not interested in playing chicken today with the forecast, and with predicted rain and storms there is wind that will eventually drive the temperatures back down to where they were when these pictures were taken.

The first thing I noticed looking over the river from the Lyons side was swallows. They were mostly Tree Swallows.

Except for a Northern Rough-winged Swallow I managed to capture, albeit blending in with the cloudy sky reflected by the water, which was moving rather briskly. I later tried to capture the “rapids” in the photo below the swallow.

For what it’s worth, there was also a Ring-billed Gull over the river at Lyons.

There were Yellow-rumped Warblers at the riverbank at Riverside, bugging in the mud.

Distantly perched, I barely managed to capture a Belted Kingfisher, a male this time.

Showing up for the count, so to speak, a female Brown-headed Cowbird was foraging in the lawn.

Over on the Riverside Lawn side of the Des Plaines things picked up a bit. There were numerous Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are slightly larger than Golden-crowneds, which makes them appear huge by comparison when you are dealing with birds this size altogether.

“No, I am NOT going to show you my Ruby Crown”

There were plenty of Golden-crowned Kinglets as well, with these giving me some nice looks.

At one point while I stood wondering where the birds were, a Song Sparrow came and sat right in front of me for the longest time. Here’s only a few of perhaps 20 photographs. He wasn’t singing, he was pretty silent, but he wanted me to notice him. Maybe this is the same bird that gave me a recital weeks ago. The third photograph shows his feathers ruffled up a bit by a wind gust. I don’t think the temperature had reached 50 degrees yet.

This Northern Cardinal looks a bit chilly as well.

It’s always hard to tell whether you are seeing the same birds that were on the other side of the river because they tend to fly back and forth, but I suspect these Yellow-rumped Warblers were different individuals from the mud bunch.

And then out of the blue, so to speak, I saw the flash of a Northern Parula. This was a bird I had seen on the weekend before at Columbus Park – and I will try to be back shortly with that report as I managed to get better images in much better light. This warbler has been showing up in various locations around the Chicagoland area the past week and it was still early on Wednesday. I was about finished with my walk when I noticed the bird was working along the riverbank and I followed it until I managed to barely grab these images. This bird seemed to prefer foraging in old logs.

I am always good for a quick White-breasted Nuthatch.

Blue Jays are starting to show up again. I have heard them on occasion all winter but now I am just beginning to see them.