End of September at the Chicago Portage – Part 2

I could have simply just done a blog post and called it Black-throated Green Warblers from the photographs I took on this day. Believe it or not this is only half of the ones I kept. But this is the best half. All photos were taken on September 29.

Yellow-rumped Warblers have been foraging in the duckweed for weeks.

I had a Blackpoll Warbler that day, and you can almost even see the field mark for which it’s named in the first photo below.

A Chipmunk was waiting for something on the first bridge.

Invariably American Robins in various molts were foraging on the front lawn, or going somewhere.

I had a glimpse of a Downy Woodpecker.

Another woodpecker, a Northern Flicker, was busy too,

And there was a third woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker, whose profile distinguishes it immediately.

I had one of my last juvenile Indigo Buntings – you can see a bit of blue at the tip of its tail.

Hermit Thrushes have been at the Portage all of this month. This one may have been the first I saw there this fall.

Two more Yellow-rumped Warblers – one in Boneset and the other in Goldenrod.

Below is an immature Red-winged Blackbird.

I barely captured the Chestnut-sided Warbler below, but I am glad I did.

Not to be overlooked, a Bay-breasted Warbler made an appearance.

Here are some more photographs of another Black-throated Green Warbler.

It was a pretty day at the Chicago Portage.

I am glad I am able to finish this post, such as it is, on my phone. I will be back in a few days when I can reconnect with all the photos on my laptop!

Riverside Wednesday and Today

Well, it looks like warbler migration has slowed down for the moment. I am hopeful that this is just a temporary blip on the radar, so to speak, but our “birdcast” has been uninspiring and it’s pretty quiet on the ground.

I was seeing a few warblers on Wednesday but practically none today. Indeed I had so few species today I have decided to combine both days into one post.

I was very happy to find a Chestnut-sided Warbler in my photos on Wednesday as I hadn’t seen one yet this fall.

And perhaps best of all for its confirming orange toes, a beautiful Blackpoll Warbler posed for several photographs. Indeed it could have been two different individuals or the same one, depending on the light.

A few more of the Blackpoll.

And now, for the More Confusing than Ever Fall Warbler, another Blackpoll.

After much deliberation, I have concluded this is indeed a Blackpoll Warbler

The only other warbler I was able to capture was a distant Magnolia Warbler.

I tend to think I will see Magnolia Warblers more regularly than I have this fall. Here’s one that was the only warbler I saw today. And not well, either.

There weren’t even Tennessee Warblers today, but I had them on Wednesday, however briefly.

The rest of them…

Red-eyed Vireos have been abundant the past week or two as well, and I got lucky again on Wednesday.

A scruffy-looking Red-eyed Vireo

So why did I start out with a female Northern Flicker? She was close enough to photograph well and she was preoccupied enough not to mind me clicking away.

The abundance of American Goldfinches seems to have calmed down.

This Rose-breasted Grosbeak was sitting still atop a tree.

Cedar Waxwings are moving around in flocks. Unfortunately all these individuals were quite backlit.

This is my favorite light on a Swainson’s Thrush.

An American Robin commanded attention

After weeks of shallow waters, the Des Plaines River is quite full again.

There was one Great Egret available for a photograph on Wednesday.

But this morning when I got out of my car and walked south of the Hofmann Tower to see if the Great Blue Egret was holding its ground, I found seven (yes, 7) Great Egrets.

As I started my walk in Riverside, I encountered more Great Egrets.

No. 8
No. 9
Could this be No. 10?

On land, there were Mourning Doves holding their perches.

Blue Jays were noisy and visible this morning.

And a Belted Kingfisher sat perched over the river not far from the Joliet Avenue bridge when I first started out.

Looking up into the trees for birds, I found a well-attended wasp nest.

The search for birds resumes tomorrow morning in Columbus Park, where I am responsible for showing up. I am going to turn in for the night so I can get up early enough to meet whoever else shows up.

Surprises Abound at Riverside

This is another 2-visit post – from September 2nd and a week later on the 9th. There was a lot more happening on September 2nd but yesterday’s visit to Riverside produced a surprise or two, so I’m including it. The American Goldfinch at the top of the post was in my front yard when I left the house, but maybe it’s surprising too as it didn’t leave but instead allowed me to take its picture.

Just as some birding acquaintances had mentioned they weren’t seeing Red-winged Blackbirds anymore, easily 100 or more blackbirds in a mixed flock of Red-wingeds and Common Grackles descended on Riverside that morning.

Blackbirds in an oak tree

Even more surprising later was a hail of acorns falling onto me, the trail, and everywhere when I was walking the trail in Riverside Lawn. Below is a video as I tried to capture some of the craziness of birds landing and hopping in two big oak trees, causing the acorns to fall. The birds – Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles – don’t eat acorns, so I can only surmise they were having fun.

It was hard to get a decent shot of the acorns on the ground. But I managed to capture a chipmunk and its stuffed cheeks with my cell phone.

Apparently the acorns were scattered about more than it seemed

There was a small but nice selection of warblers on the 2nd. I was actually able to capture an American Redstart or two. One thing I like about the photograph below is that it shows off this bird’s rictal bristles, which I thought, like many others, had something to do with catching insects. However that assumption has been challenged and I found a brief article by Dr. Roger Lederer interesting. Still, it’s nice to see the bird’s whiskers.

I think I saw my last Golden-winged Warbler on the 2nd. Below are photos of what appears to be a female Golden-winged Warbler. Nice of her to show off her prize in the last photo.

I also saw a Wilson’s Warbler that morning close to the paved walk along the river. Wilson is one of my favorites.

Also in the Queen Anne’s Lace was a lovely Tennessee Warbler. After this fall I have become a big fan of Queen Anne’s Lace.

Wait – a few more warblers, and then back to surprises. Here’s a very nice Black-throated Green Warbler I saw that day. Another one of my all-time favorite subjects.

And a Cape May Warbler.

And a Magnolia Warbler…

And one more Tennessee Warbler.

Where were we? Mourning Doves like to pose as if they are part of a frieze.

Also on the 2nd, an Osprey made a brief appearance, the light playing with its backlit silhouette.

Congratulations for making it this far. I think we’re about halfway there. This looks like a brand new Northern Cardinal.

Swainson’s Thrushes have been easy to see now for a couple weeks.

Below is a Hairy Woodpecker. I don’t see these as often as the Downies so, hail Hairy.

Delighting to the song of an Eastern Pewee all summer but rarely seeing one, it was great to see this bird well, if briefly, on the 2nd.

And young Gray Catbirds are not shy.

The Common Grackles have been bathing and sipping water on the rocks all summer. I think I know how this feels when the pool is closed for a week – let’s get those last luxurious baths in before we have to leave.

When I went back to Riverside on the 9th, I was a little surprised to see several species other than the Common Grackles on the rocks. The water is a little shallower now.

At some point on the Riverside Lawn trail there’s a tree with these glorious Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) growing. I am not tempted but I have read they are edible.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this Magnolia Warbler yesterday is that it was the only warbler I saw well enough to photograph.

The Killdeer were still on the rocks by the former Hofmann Dam.

The biggest surprise yesterday was to see perhaps a dozen Double-crested Cormorants flying overhead in formation.

I’m sure the reason why I’m seeing more Mourning Doves lately is simply because there are more of them. I am quite fond of these birds, as it was one in particular who first alerted me to the fact that birds sing in key with music.

And the American Goldfinches are busy weaning their young. The juvenile on the left was begging for a handout but his dad held firm and eventually left him on the branch alone.

Monarch migration continues.

A pleasant surprise was to see a Belted Kingfisher well enough to photograph. I had just emerged from within the woods and had forgotten to adjust my exposure to sunnier conditions so these photos are a bit overexposed. I hear these guys a lot but don’t always see them well, so this was a treat.

I will be back with more. We have a choir party/rehearsal this afternoon and we sing tomorrow morning. I have been ripening avocados so I can use one of my serrano chiles to make guacamole for the party. It looks like we will have rain tomorrow and through Monday morning, so I will be busy indoors. We will cool off a bit too. Feeling more and more like fall.

One more of my front yard American Goldfinch

Fall Migration Continues…

It’s been a busy birding week and fall warbler migration is only getting started, but I’m already having a hard time keeping up. To add to my confusion, with the pool closed, the break in my routine is making it harder to figure out what day it is. But I have started getting up earlier to join bird walks and I will start leading Saturday walks tomorrow through the second week in October. It’s beginning to look like fall, even if it doesn’t feel like it just yet.

These photographs are from August 31st at Riverside, and I have also added the rest of the birds from August 26th at the same location.

I was happy to see a very cooperative Northern Waterthrush on Wednesday.

American Redstarts are the most numerous and well-distributed fall warbler species so far. I have seen them every day. The one immediately below looks like a first-year male.

Also fairly common are Magnolia Warblers like the one at the top of the post and below.

I discovered something about Blackpoll Warblers I never realized before. Apparently they all have orange toes – so when stumped by a decision between whether you are looking at a Blackpoll or a Bay-breasted, if you can see orange toes, that solves the problem. I was delighted to find photos showing beautiful orange toes. This is nearly impossible to see in the field, however.

I have also seen Golden-winged Warblers all week, starting on Tuesday morning at Columbus Park with Henry G.’s walk. They seem to have all come into the area at once and I have seen them everywhere I have been. I’m sneaking this photo in from Tuesday as it is the best one I have of the whole bird.

Below is another Golden-winged I just barely captured the next morning at Riverside.

Cape May Warblers seem to be numerous this season.

And not a day goes by without a Tennessee Warbler.

Below is a barely-captured Black-and-white Warbler

Thrushes are starting to appear as well. This is a Swainson’s Thrush.

Juvenile Gray Catbirds can’t get enough of the camera. They demand attention.

I don’t think this molting Northern Cardinal wanted to be seen like this but I couldn’t help myself.

In answer to the question, “Where have all the blackbirds gone?”, I have seen huge flocks all week at Riverside.

And Cedar Waxwings are on the move in flocks as well.

I have a feeling House Wrens will be gone soon but the youngsters are still around.