I returned to Riverside Monday morning, after my previous visit last Wednesday. The weather was sunnier on Wednesday than Monday. But on Wednesday, I heard and then saw a Winter Wren, and even managed to get some photographs of it. Which is more than I got this past Monday when I had even better looks at the Winter Wren, but that’s another story.
Since this is a long and somewhat complicated post, I think I’ll revert to chronological order. Below is what the Des Plaines River looked like last Wednesday, for starters. The water level was a little bit higher than it was Monday.
In the raptor department, there was a distant, perched Cooper’s Hawk with its back to me.
American Goldfinches are still seen here and there.
I can remember complaining the last few years about never getting a photograph of a Dark-eyed Junco. Now I have way too many of them.
In good light, Downy Woodpeckers can be good subjects.
The sky was almost too blue a background for this White-breasted Nuthatch.
Shortly after I crossed the footbridge to Riverside Lawn, I had my Winter Wren encounter. The wren was at some distance but on a sunny day I was able to capture it cavorting around.
Perhaps the only bird the sun did not treat well that day was this female Northern Cardinal.
When I returned on Monday, it was cloudy.
And the river was low again, with many places for Canada Geese to stand in.
I caught a flurry of Rock Pigeons around the Hofmann Tower, but there was no accompanying raptor so I don’t know what caused them to go into flight drills.
Two Dark-eyed Juncos are below, with a White-throated Sparrow in the middle. Unfortunately they were backlit but I because haven’t seen very many White-throated Sparrows this fall I am including it.
Off Riverside’s paved trail, I found this Red-bellied Woodpecker busily inspecting a stump.
When I got over to Riverside Lawn, it wasn’t long before I realized that another tree had fallen and the trail, such as it is, was now totally obscured and not exactly passable. Before trying to decide how I was going to go around all this mess, I decided to just sit on the first fallen tree that I had been negotiating easily for about almost a month.
Almost simultaneously, the flock appeared. I suspect they were intrigued by the newly fallen log as well. Of course there were Dark-eyed Juncos.
A Downy Woodpecker was present.
For comparison, I was also lucky to see a Hairy Woodpecker.
A couple incidental photos from Riverside Lawn…I think before I sat down on the log.
While I sat on the log, the Winter Wren came in and was so close I could not photograph it with my big lens. Below is the only image of the Winter Wren I managed to capture on Monday.
But soon after that, a Carolina Wren arrived and perched on a stump a short distance directly in front of me and I complied with its request to be photographed. It’s also at the top of the post.
There were also a couple White-breasted Nuthatches not too far away. Directly below is a male, and the bird in the gallery beneath it is a female.
This is the time of year when Red-bellied Woodpeckers stand out against the drab, leafless trees. And this one was no exception.
Sometimes I manage to focus on a busy Black-capped Chickadee.
More snaps of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
I have managed to find a way to walk around the new obstacle although I am not sure how easy it will be later, in snow and ice.
The most astounding thing Monday occurred hours later on my way home from the pool. I was approaching a busy intersection at 37th and Harlem when I saw a Bald Eagle rise up from behind a strip mall and fly right over my car, and then there was a smaller raptor chasing after it. I suspect they both may have been attracted to some prey which I never saw. I got through the intersection, pulled into a gas station and pulled out the camera.
The smaller raptor turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon. The two birds chased around for what seemed like a few minutes, and then the Bald Eagle eventually headed south, after the Peregrine gave up the chase and sat on top of a utility pole. It’s something to consider, that both these species were endangered not all that long ago and now there are enough of them to spill over into the suburban sprawl.
So it’s been quite a week for raptor action with this going on Monday morning and then the Red-tailed Hawk rescue on Tuesday. Yesterday and today were much quieter mornings. Tomorrow we are due for rain mixed with snow so I won’t be going for a walk but if I can drive, I will go for my swim in the middle of the day.
I’ll try to be back soon with some earlier encounters. Next week will be busy with choir singing and the Christmas Bird Count on the 17th, so blogging may have to wait for a while. ‘Tis the season.