I never intend to go birding in the afternoon, but on Friday I jumped at the chance when we were encouraged to take the afternoon off. It was cloudy, and you can never count on what birds will be up to after lunch. Sometimes I like the cloudiness, though, because it reminds me of birding in South America.
Maybe cloudy was okay for capturing this Cape May Warbler.
Then there was a very active, backlit Warbling Vireo. This is likely the only Warbling Vireo I will photograph this year. There’s always one. But they are all very busy singing now and protecting their territories.
Sometimes I hardly ever see goldfinches, and at other times they seem to be everywhere. All I know is they’re not in my yard too much anymore so I suspect many of them are at the Portage or other nearby forest preserves.
With all the rain and now warmer temperatures, the green-up is happening rapidly.
I often hear Killdeer but don’t always see them. I managed to capture this one flying across the compost piles on the MWRD property.
Starlings have been entertaining. I have seen one doing happy dances a couple times, although unfortunately it was hard to get him in focus on this trip. But I did capture him flying.
And now how about paying some attention to the ladies? It seemed to be a good day to capture pictures of the girls. Maybe they thought they were less noticeable on a cloudy day.
I found the female Indigo Bunting below quite fascinating, in that she was preening or otherwise trying to get a grip on her feathers and the photos reveal her black and bluish feathers underneath. Who knew? (Forgive me for thinking “only her hairdresser knows for sure.”)
As a comparison to the above, here’s the male in all his glory and various feather colors.
Song Sparrows are more often heard than seen so it was nice to catch this one foraging for something.
And it’s not often I see a pair of Downy Woodpeckers. Maybe afternoons are lazier for the birds.
I had a wonderful encounter with a Philadelphia Vireo a couple years ago. I hope to see more of this species. And this was the first day I saw the Eastern Kingbird. By Memorial Day there were two Kingbirds hunting for bugs from their perches over the water.
Early on there was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings but they were hard to distinguish in the shadows and blended in perfectly with the tree colors.
Another elusive Black-and-White Warbler. These warblers are relatively easy to see, but so far had been defying my lens. However stay tuned because I have had some more productive encounters.
Even the Baltimore Orioles looked a bit washed out. But I noticed a nest, and that was a welcome sign. The female builds the nest, so I can only imagine she was inside of it.
It has been hard to go back to work after a long weekend, even though I have not yet returned to the office. Most amazing to me has been the time spent in the field, so to speak. I never feel like I have this luxury to fully absorb my surroundings except when I am on vacation. But something about the pandemic has slowed down everything after eliminated many social commitments. I can embrace birding religiously three days straight as a spiritual exercise. Even though I am encountering several more people on the trails, there is still enough space and quiet, with many moments left to witness how life continues beyond our immediate concerns.