Meandering at McGinnis

I went to McGinnis Slough once last month and then again on November 1. This post covers both outings, neither with an abundance of bird species in the water. But I was lucky to see some different land birds.

A word about today… I was grounded by the weather. We really needed the forecasted rain, but there was not enough of it. Instead we had high winds with gusts up to 60 miles per hour and it was scary enough being inside watching my trees swaying and holding their own against the gusts. There were some intrepid, likely disgruntled House Sparrows in the yard, but I removed all the feeders last night in anticipation of the rain, and I am sure they were perfectly capable of foraging for food for a day.

The first visit to McGinnis on October 11 was low on water and waterfowl species but there were at least three dozen Great Egrets on the far side. The trees were just starting to turn color.

The closest I could get to a photograph of a Great Egret was at a distance, with one set against a couple hundred American Coots. Coots were the water bird of the day, but they were all far away.

There was a Great Blue Heron wading in the shallow water.

Very early on I saw a Blue Jay swoop down into the grass like it was looking for something. It put the leaf back after picking it up.

Later I caught a Blue Jay in flight.

Here are a few more photographs of the male House Finch at the top of the post. House Finches have been more visible than they were all spring and summer lately.

Instead of the usual group of Wood Ducks, I saw only this one.

I did capture the distinctive silhouette of a Great Blue Heron in flight.

There was a Palm Warbler. I still can’t get over how strange this fall has been, seeing only one or two Palm Warblers here and there.

A Northern Cardinal was easy to spot in the diminishing leaves.

And a Yellow-rumped Warbler was pretty predictable for October 11.

I was trying to capture the enormity of the coot congregation but it was hard to do with all the reeds in the way.

Shortly before I left, two Sandhill Cranes flew over.

Just this past Tuesday, on November 1, the slough looked like this. Not a lot of birds of any kind in the water although thousands had been reported a few days earlier. So most of the birds I saw were on land.

I did manage to sort of get a distant photo of a Great Blue Heron.

American Goldfinches have been busy taking advantage of seeds and blending in well with them.

A Dark-eyed Junco posed for me.

European Starlings aren’t what you expect to see at McGinnis Slough.

There were a couple Song Sparrows.

I fussed over these next photos a lot. I kept thinking it was a Clay-colored Sparrow, but I wasn’t sure enough because it came up rare for the date and location. Now a few days later I am convinced it was a Clay-colored Sparrow. The clean gray nape and pale lores confirm it, but I felt originally just the gizz of the bird, as they say, was Clay-colored. And the body of the bird is uniformly buffy.

There were fewer Great Egrets this time.

I am not sure I realized I was photographing a Rusty Blackbird but this was definitely a nice surprise to find in my photos from Tuesday.

One more view of the slough. The trees are now fading and losing their leaves.

All the house cleaning I normally start on Saturday is done for the week and out of the way before tomorrow morning. We are singing for Choir Sunday, which means the Unity Temple Choir will be featured throughout the entire service. I’m looking forward to the repertoire, in particular the Ola Gjeilo pieces. The weather will be much improved after today. The sanctuary will be beautiful with sunlight pouring through the clerestory windows. A moment of calm to be had after the storm and, I suppose, before the next.

McGinnis Magic

I went to McGinnis Slough yesterday morning. It’s been on my mind for a week, and since there isn’t a lot of trail on the east side by LaGrange Road, I decided I could manage it with my knee, which I later took to the pool for a therapeutic swim. The Slough, of course, looks more like a bog.

But it was good to be somewhere else for a change and at first I didn’t see very much. There was a nice Eastern Kingbird. This seems to be the bird of the week.

The Rose Mallow is in full bloom. I always look forward to seeing this.

There was a beautiful Great Black Wasp on some Queen Anne’s Lace.

Walking north toward the overlook of the slough, I saw two Eastern Kingbirds in the Elderberry.

And there was an obligatory Rabbit.

There are usually a lot of dragonflies here but it was cool and a bit overcast so I only managed to capture this Blue Dasher Dragonfly and a Blue Fronted Dancer Damselfly, species I have been seeing all summer.

There seemed to be what looked like Evening Primrose all over the place. I used to have some in my yard years ago.

There was virtually nothing to see without a scope over the slough, and I could barely make out seven or eight Great Egrets, but that was a sign of things to come.

As I walked back south along the trail that follows some nearby open water, such as it is, I encountered a few delightful House Finches. They appeared to be juveniles and as curious about me as I was about them.

And then, through the tall grass, I saw a Great Egret perched on top of a branch of a fallen log that I have seen other birds on before.

As I tried to capture the Great Egret clearly through the grass, I noticed something else. Lo and behold, two Trumpeter Swans and their three Cygnets. I saw this configuration last year, but it must have been earlier because the Cygnets were much smaller. It’s good to see these three have survived to this age.

It then became evident that the Wood Ducks were hanging out on their favorite fallen log nearby.

Here’s a closer cropped image of the transforming male in the tree above.

But that’s not all that was going on. There was a Great Blue Heron behind all the ducks.

I was back there for some time, and not terribly far away from the birds, but I guess they felt safe behind all that grass that got in the way of my photos.

Then at some point another Great Blue Heron flew over, squawking somewhat vociferously,

There wasn’t too much to look at in the rest of the open water, but this little group was nice.

2 Mallards and 2 Wood Ducks

On my way out, as I stopped to look at something in a tree, I noticed there were three Great Egrets perched in another tree which reminded me of how this place used to look years ago when there were scores of them.

Needless to say I was restored by my encounter with these birds. And then swimming made it a nearly perfect day as I was able to work on my knee without injuring it further. I’m trying everything. Exercise, different shoes, whatever. It’s encouraging. Then I celebrated by getting my second Covid-19 booster, figuring it was probably a good idea to get it done before choir rehearsals start soon. The booster has left me feeling a little down, but I guess that means I needed it. Who knows? Everything is a gamble these days. Playing fast and loose with an ice pack on the futon.