Bullfrog Break

Bullfrog 4-15-17-0899Bullfrog 4-15-17-0886A few weeks ago I took my car to the dealer for its annual checkup and then went to McGinnis Slough to see how spring was progressing. As I walked through the path next to the marshy area the grass started to move, and I determined there had to be frogs hopping into the water out of sight. After stopping  and waiting for a while, I was able to finally see some Bullfrogs and photograph them. They were capable of moving so quickly, I’m glad a few sat still for me.

Not a lot of birds present yet, but the Song Sparrows were abundant.

This female Red-Winged Blackbird was an indication that some breeding birds are ready to get down to business.

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Female Red-Winged Blackbird

Always nice to see a male Wood Duck even as he started swimming away from me.

Still seeing Ruby-Crowned Kinglets even three weeks after I took these pictures. I suspect the cold winds still pushing down from the north is keeping them from progressing to their breeding grounds. Have not been able to get one to reveal its Ruby Crown.

The male Belted Kingfisher below was busy.

We’re a lot leafier now, but the trees were just beginning to show some green for the robin below.

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American Robin

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There were likely more American Coots like the one at left, but I didn’t see a lot of them even skulking around in the marsh.

 

 

 

As I was panning on the Red-Tailed Hawk below it flew into the sun and even though it was somewhat cloudy that was not something I was planning to do, but I like the way it turned out.

RT Hawk in the Sun 4-15-17-0838One more Bullfrog shot. Who knew they could be so pretty?

Bullfrogs 4-15-17-0904And as promised a few more from the Science March.

Hope to be back soon with a report from the indoor crowd, the Spring Bird Count, more from Panama, Migration Central…wherever the wind blows me next (it’s unseasonably chilly and windy today).

Back at the Slough

Pied-Billed Grebe, McGinnis Slough 10-25-15

Pied-Billed Grebe, McGinnis Slough 10-25-15

It seems strange to have been away from this page for so long, only to find time to come back after this weekend with all the sanity drained out of humanity. It almost feels like I need to start over. So I’m going with pictures from 3 weeks ago when I managed to get out to McGinnis Slough.

Gadwall at McGinnis

Gadwall at McGinnis

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Gadwall

The problem with the Slough is always that most of the birds are usually quite far away and you need a scope to see them.

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Great Blue Heron, McGinnis Slough

So most of these pictures were taken a bit closer in. Like this cooperative Song Sparrow.

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Song Sparrow

I didn’t realize this was a Clay-Colored Sparrow until I started going through the pictures. A nice surprise, don’t see this guy too often.

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Clay-Colored Sparrow

And this was one of the last Yellow-Rumped Warblers I saw this year. I guess in the photo below, if you’re going to see the rump you aren’t going to see much else…!

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

YRWA McGinnis 10-25-15 -6212There were about 400 American Coots at the Slough that day, and here’s one of them.

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American Coot

One more time with the Song Sparrow.

SOSP McGinnis 10-25-15 -6020I picked up my annual bird seed order from Chicago Audubon yesterday: I try to buy enough to last through the winter. Was greeted by Bobbi who was helping distribute the orders, and we got to discussing international travel (we were both with a group in Australia back in 2009). And then she told me she came back from a month in Paris only a few days ago. The world just shrunk that much faster.

Down by the River

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

It’s been a busy week, so I haven’t gotten out too much and, in spite of that, it’s taken me days to carve out a post.

Two American Coots on 1-29-15: this was the view without binoculars

Two American Coots on 1-29-15: this was the view without binoculars

Freer souls have been out in the cold finding the rarities, some of which have been seen on the Chicago River. As a matter of course, since last winter’s freeze of the Great Lakes, I make a habit of peering into the Chicago River every morning when I get off the train and look into that section of the River to see if there’s any bird life in it. Seeing as how last year at this time I was counting White-Winged Scoters…that species and even less likely birds have been showing up in other sections of the river, but downtown there isn’t much going on.

AMCO Chi River 2-10-15-2213

Confirmed Coots on 2-10-15 when they were a little bit closer

AMCO Chi River 2-10-15-2236

The Coots are long gone and nothing else has taken their place outside the train station. Ah, the frustrations of sitting inside an office all day…

So late in the cloudy, snowy afternoons of Tuesday and Wednesday this past week I walked north to where the river joins Lake Michigan to see if there were any waterfowl at all. I was delighted to see Red-Breasted Mergansers as I am accustomed to seeing them on the lakefront but had not yet seen any this year.

Red-Breasted Mergansers

Red-Breasted Mergansers

The lake is frozen close to shore, and ice flows into the river where it joins the lake.

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Tuesday it was snowing, Wednesday just cloudy. Tuesday there were also a couple Mallards and one pair of Common Mergansers, along with a dozen or so Red-Breasted Mergansers and primarily Herring Gulls.

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Female Red-Breasted Merganser

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Mallard

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers

Since, the Gull Frolic, I now pay more attention to gulls and find most of them to be Herrings (we’ll see how long that lasts when the Ringed Bills return by the thousands).

Herring Gull flying past an office building near Union Station

Herring Gull flying past an office building near Union Station

3rd Cycle Herring Gull Chicago River 2-25-15-5184

Third Cycle Herring Gull, Chicago River

Adult Herring Gull Chicago River 2-24-15-5198

Adult Herring Gull Chicago River

But there are still Ring-Billed Gulls around, like the one below. I think maybe if I’m not seeing much else yet this year I’ll get better at identifying these guys at a distance…

Adult Ring-Billed Gull

Adult Ring-Billed Gull

Second Cycle Herring Gull, Chicago River

Second Cycle Herring Gull, Chicago River

Red-Breasted Merg Chicago River 2-25-15-5246

Common Merganser

Winter continues, we just can’t seem to get enough of it.

First Cycle Herring Gull

First Cycle Herring Gull

Meanwhile, Back on the Lakefront

Ring-Billed Gull IMG_0784_1

Ring-Billed Gull

Last Wednesday was the only day with promised sunshine, so my theory is, if I’m going to get out of bed at 4:00 a.m. so I can hang out with wild birds before going to the office, I try to pick the day with the best weather. It was cold, but clear.

Crows IMG_0753_1

Of course the crows are in charge of all this. I had maybe a total of 20 crows from Jackson to Randolph. Sometimes I am not quite sure if they are simply reappearing as clones of themselves. This is very frustrating to me, since they apparently have no problem distinguishing me from other humans. Do they sit around worrying that we all look alike and then study certain individuals they want to remember? I do recognize the crow below as being Fuzzy, one of last summer’s crop of youngsters, so named because of his rounded head.

Crow IMG_0921_1

There were not many birds on the lake, but I did manage to get a few images.

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A few Coots have arrived. As far as I could tell the Canada Goose and the Coot were getting along.

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Common Goldeneye

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First year Common Goldeneye male

Common Goldeneye are still…common.

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Pied-Billed Grebe

There was one Pied Billed Grebe in the harbor…a nice surprise.

Later that afternoon on land, in Millennium Park, one of two Northern Cardinals

Cardinal IMG_0942_1

and one of several White-Throated Sparrows that have been there all winter.

WT Sparrow IMG_0938_1

As I sit here pondering our first true snowfall of the season, which is due overnight, I am also wondering why so many people are behaving like it’s going to be 3 to 7 feet instead of 3 to 7 inches…

Crow IMG_0831_1

…no need to be in a hurry.

Le Corbeau.

Easter Sunday Birding

This morning was beautifully sunny and clear, although a brisk north wind kept things rather chilly most of the morning. I started out kind of late, around 9:00 a.m., and went to the Chicago Portage to see if anything had changed.

Tree Swallow

There were more Tree Swallows than a couple weeks ago, perhaps a dozen or so. But there were no new birds. I had hoped to see at least a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, and maybe a few different sparrows. Maybe the wind was blowing from the wrong direction to bring in new migrants. I managed to get a few nice photos of the current residents anyway.

A couple Canada Geese got into a disagreement which caused the water to fly.

A Northern Cardinal was singing to the right of the path.

I heard Song Sparrows singing and finally found one.

And of course there were a lot of robins.

Around midday it was much warmer but the wind picked up. I went to McGinnis Slough to see some different birds. There were several species shared between the two locations such as Red-Winged Blackbirds, Black-Capped Chickadees, American Robins, Tree Swallows, House Finches and Mallards. Generally McGinnis has more water birds, although for the most part they are hard to photograph because they are usually too far away.

On the other hand, this Red-Winged Blackbird was more cooperative than the ones at the Portage.

I got lucky with this Great Blue Heron, one of seven I saw fishing in various shallows.

Great Blue Heron

There were perhaps 250-275 American Coots. This one was swimming around with something wrapped around its body. Looks like a water plant pulled up from a dive.

There were 20 or more Pied-Billed Grebes but they were too far away to photograph. As it is this Horned Grebe eating a fish it had caught is barely recognizable.

This might be the year I figure out digiscoping. Or not. There will always be birds too far away.