I missed my annual visit to this place on the July 4th weekend. Then two Sundays ago, I decided to see what it looked like two weeks later. Weather conditions were favorable and I had no other plans, so it seemed like a good thing to do after I psyched myself up for the nearly hourlong drive. How spoiled I have become zipping over to the Portage in five minutes every weekend.
I don’t know why I have never bothered to look at the signs before but this time I paid more attention to them. The one below, however, is the only one the birds did not decorate. The rest, which explained more about the plants and the history of the place, were too messy to include here.
The parking lot was empty. However I was greeted by a Killdeer. If I remember correctly, there was a Killdeer here last time I visited. I suspect they nest near the Visitor Center. Also below is a recording from the parking lot.
I always count on seeing and hearing Dickcissels here and I was not disappointed. Except there seemed to be fewer individuals to photograph. The one below, perched and singing which is how you normally find them, was still farther away than I would have preferred. The Dickcissel’s song is below the pictures and there is also a Field Sparrow singing in the background.
Field Sparrows are lovely little birds and I was happy to see and hear them.
I got a closer look at this Field Sparrow with a worm.
I heard more Common Yellowthroats than I saw, which is typically the case. This one would not turn around and face me.
It took me quite a while to find a Song Sparrow, of all things.
I decided that the prairie plants were as spectacular as the birds and easier to photograph. I was a little disappointed to find the Purple Loosestrife as it is not a native species.
Below, a Monarch Butterfly enjoying a Compass Plant flower.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this tiny Northern Crescent butterfly.
On a small piece of remaining boardwalk. I found a Red Admiral trying to blend in with some coyote scat. The other individual was more discretely checking out the gravel trail.
There didn’t seem to be many Indigo Buntings but in general, the birds were busy nesting and not displaying. I did manage to capture this one.
Great Blue Herons flew past, but I missed seeing any up close. There was one barely visible when I reached the Goose Lake, such as it is, but I did not want to disturb it so I reversed course.
Most of the trails are mown grass, which is where I eventually encountered the Dickcissel on the ground.
Shortly before I started to turn back, I encountered two guys who flushed a female Ring-necked Pheasant. Below are a couple not-very-clear flight photos.
The sun’s glare on the trail map below makes it even harder to see
There weren’t many Red-Winged Blackbirds visible. I settled for this one.
Over the pond by Cragg’s Cabin, I managed to capture a Cliff Swallow.
On the way out, I stopped the car to let two Wild Turkey hens cross the road. I got out of the car to take a few pictures of one. She seemed unconcerned by my presence but didn’t volunteer for a better view.
Overall I am very happy that I made it back to this beautiful place. I am a little sorry that it has taken me two weeks to report on it. But here we are at the end of July already. One confusing day leads to the next. On that note, I’m going swimming tonight for another slice of temporary ecstasy.