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!
I’ve been trying to get caught up with the other warbler species I have seen this spring migration. Most exciting was the Hooded Warbler at the top of this post, which appeared at Columbus Park last Saturday. It had been seen by others, but I heard it still singing so I hung around where it likely was until I could find it with the camera. I haven’t seen one of these guys in some time, so I was really pleased.
Also seen on Saturday was a Wilson’s Warbler, who finally let me get a good look at his signature black cap.
At the Chicago Portage earlier on May 9, there were Golden-winged Warblers, a Blue-winged Warbler, and more Nashville and Black-throated Green Warblers than I have seen since. They arrived right before the big windy warmup that caused the fallout the next day along the river.
I took too many photographs of the Golden-winged. I apologize but this species is less frequently seen.
One bird was foraging along with a Nashville Warbler.
I think the bird below is a female.
Here’s one more with the Nashville and flowers still on the tree.
Nashville Warblers were common earlier but were way up in the tree tops.
The Nashvilles were in good numbers.
I managed to photograph a Blue-winged Warbler on the same day. I haven’t seen one since. I still have fond memories of seeing many of them a couple years ago.
There were some Black-throated Green Warblers at the Portage as well. I haven’t seen them too much this spring, but they were all over the place in the fall.
A few more…
Lately the most prevalent species has been Blackpoll Warbler. It has been relatively easy to distinguish their calls and then find them.
I have seen a few of these again since last Saturday but these photos are all the same individual.
I nearly forgot the Nashville Warblers from May 9. They didn’t stand out too much in that light.
Apologies for being quiet on this page for a while. I have unwittingly succumbed to a breakthrough infection which I can’t trace, of course, to anything specific although I have my suspicions. After two plus years of doing what I was supposed to do, getting the vaccines and masking up and socially distancing etc., etc. this is almost an affront to my sense of self. On the other hand, why not me? As mutations continue to make the virus harder to resist and restrictions are lifted, I can only count my blessings: I am not very sick, I live alone with my birds and I feel better every day. My energy is returning rapidly. I can be well and still take too many photos and start to nod off processing them. I am extremely grateful I managed to take these photographs of spring warbler migration before I got sick. There are lots more photos of warblers and some other birds to come. I hope you are staying safe and well.
I had planned on this post days if not a week ago… This could be my last ancient fall warbler photos post. Even though we will still have some cold weather to deal with, spring and the longer days are gaining attention from the birds. It won’t be long before the trees leaf out and warblers start to arrive. Red-winged Blackbirds have already started setting up territories as of March 1.
So here are a few reminders of what the warblers looked like in the fall. Below and at the top of the post is a Bay-breasted Warbler.
Below is one quick capture I managed of a Northern Parula.
Yellow-rumped Warblers like the ones below will look quite different in the spring.
Male Nashville Warblers have a tiny red spot sometimes visible at the crown. If you click on the first image below you might be able to see a hint of red on this one.
One sought-after warbler that I saw a few times but didn’t manage to photograph until a later visit in October was this male Black-throated Blue Warbler.
There were a lot of Black-throated Green Warblers this past fall.
And many Blackpoll Warblers were available for observation.
I will never tire of Magnolia Warblers although they were ubiquitous this past fall. I really think they like to flirt with the camera lens.
Not a warbler, but there was a very well seen Cooper’s Hawk that day.
Things are getting a bit more interesting as spring approaches and I will be back as soon as I can with more photos and reflections. Life goes on. Sometimes surprisingly so.
Oops, I almost forgot the obligatory American Redstart.
I decided to visit Bemis Woods a couple times two weeks ago as it is on the way to the grocery store where buy my organic veggies and then I wouldn’t be wasting a trip running all the way over to the store just for a couple items the first time, and my weekly groceries the next. I have now changed my shopping day to Friday instead of Saturday, so… visiting Bemis could become a weekly event.
I wasn’t sure if I would ever visit Bemis after the installation of a “Go Ape” Zipline feature a couple years ago. It’s right off the parking lot. but I thought I would see how it was to walk the trails, figuring the pandemic had probably put a damper on Go Ape for a while. While it doesn’t take up the whole preserve, that much human activity, in addition to plenty of bike riders, walkers and runners…well, you get the picture for a slow-moving quiet person like me. Bemis is also huge and there are trails sprawled out leading to oblivion, or so it seems, but luckily the GPS on my phone confirms I am going back in the right direction.
Black-throated Green Warblers have been everywhere this season. Period.
I was delighted to find the female Black-throated Blue Warbler below in my photos.
I could not resist documenting this Blackpoll Warbler’s struggle with its prey.
Not to be outdone by the warblers chasing bugs, this Black-capped Chickadee showed me there are other interesting things to eat.
I have no idea what the plant below is but I liked the way it has gone to seed.
Another view of part of Bemis that is not woods.
Bemis is otherwise thick with tall trees like the view below, which makes seeing anything a challenge.
The Salt Creek runs through the preserve and there were Mallards at least one morning. It was nice to see some water still deep enough to afford waterfowl.
The asters below caught my eye. There are so many different types of asters, the more I learn the more confused I become. I’m glad the bee in the right-hand photo has figured it out.
Two more views of the Northern Flicker at the top of the post.
Below is a confusing fall warbler that has to be a Bay-Breasted but looks almost nothing like the ones below it in different light.
I have not seen many Chestnut-Sided Warblers this fall but am always glad when I do see one.
Below, some type of phlox and then golf-ball-sized galls that are found on Staghorn Sumac trees.
There’s always room for a Downy Woodpecker in my estimation.
This is still just the tip of the iceberg. However I have to use up more photographs soon or I won’t have room on my hard drive for the ones I have yet to take. Or something like that. I did get a bit of a reprieve last week when we had a string of rainy, cloudy mornings – which I devoted to projects I’m starting in my yard. We had cool weather and then we went back to hot and dry – and now we seem to be somewhere in between, but I am really hoping for some more rain, again.
I’m taking advantage of the rainy forecast – we’re not getting much rain yet but it is quite cloudy and we could get more. I needed a morning off from birding anyway as my left foot was complaining about something of unknown origin yesterday. It’s better this morning, but I’ll defer the walking part of my day and swim a mile in the pool later this evening.
These photographs are from my second visit to the Portage now almost two weeks ago – on September 8th. The clear skies gave way to intense light which made for some interesting contrasts when I found a cooperative Black-throated Green Warbler.
I found it hard to resist taking one photo of my favorite shelf fungus which is conveniently located close to the trail.
Two-year male American Redstarts have been few and far between and avoiding me, but I sort of managed a furtive representation of this one. The first-year males have been plentiful, but I think that’s a female below as the flank color isn’t quite orangey enough.
I have seen a good number of Blackpoll Warblers this fall, like the one below.
Here’s one of my favorite combinations – Canada Goldenrod and Boneset seem to have an affinity for each other. A closeup of the Boneset is below.
Here’s a European Starling in the Pokeweed berries.
I had a nice look at a light morph Red-tailed Hawk.
Certain birds tend to stand out and the number of Eastern Wood-Pewees I have seen well fall into this category.
Swainson’s Thrushes have been everywhere. Period. But sometimes they look like Gray-Cheeked Thrushes and vice versa…
Here’s what the Des Plaines River looked like two weeks ago – it’s even lower now.
Red-eyed Vireos were abundant.
Maybe – just maybe – the bird below was a Wilson’s Warbler. Sadly, I have no other views of it. I am still trying to codify warbler colors. This looks like Wilson’s Warbler Yellow to me.
The Portage colors match the birds.
There was a Canada Warbler that day.
And American Robins are so ubiquitous that when one stands out, I sometimes have to capture it. The bird below looks to be very young and quite curious.
It’s been a rewarding fall migration season so far for me, albeit tucked away in my location limits. Eventually I will have to go down to the lakefront and other places a little more far-flung but for the moment I feel like I am enjoying my morning outings around here.
On May 1st, on a somewhat cloudy morning which turned sunnier, I encountered the first of a few Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers coming to claim their territories for the summer. This provided an unusual opportunity to grab some really nice photographs.
Of course there were other birds available, if not all quite as accessible. Below, my last cooperative Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.
Palm Warblers were around – they were in the first wave, so to speak. I may still see one or two but I think for the most part they have moved on to their breeding grounds far north of here.
I did manage to barely capture this Northern Cardinal who was convinced he was pretty hard to see.
I am not sure if Mourning Doves are in decline but according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service their numbers dropped in 2020 from 2018 and 2019. I simply feel as if I have seen fewer of them.
Here’s a little bird I could stand to see more of. Field Sparrow. I likely will see some throughout the summer in their more suitable grassland habitat.
Eastern Phoebes seem to come and go at the Portage so far.
A Canada Goose … and a Turtle. There was slightly more water three weeks ago but the drought was already affecting everyone.
There’s still always a chance to see a Bald Eagle fly over.
Here is a distant Black-Throated Green Warbler that I missed a closer view of while talking to two photographer friends – I was blocked by a tree and thought they were taking pictures of the Palm Warbler I had in the photographs above.
It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed that I have not made it to the Magic Hedge – Montrose – on the lakefront, where as many as 28 warbler species were seen last Saturday. There were also as many as 40 birders. It used to be daunting enough to drive and park when I wanted to go on occasion, and now parking meters are being installed with likely few other options if you don’t find a space. I suppose there are other ways to get to Montrose safely with optics but they all contain extra expense (like an Uber). I would endure public transportation but not with all my gear. I will have to be satisfied with whatever the places I visit have to offer. Birds can still show up anywhere. I hope next year I will not be constrained by my current schedule, and barring any more accidents, I will be able to go out more. Maybe even make a trip to the Magic Hedge.
That said, we are in the 80’s thru Tuesday with a brief drop into the 70’s after that – and praying for rain. I intend to get out early tomorrow for a cloudy walk and see what I can see.
At home, my Zebra Finches are bored with me sitting on the futon working. Up until today I was wearing something they could play with, but today my legs are bare and my half-socks are uninteresting at best. The air conditioning has already come on a couple times to keep us at 79 degrees which is made more comfortable by a couple fans blowing. Summer Mode.
After last Sunday’s chilly, gloomy rain, I had my eye on Tuesday morning and notified the work team that I was taking it off. Tuesday came, starting out cool but sunny, and I went to the Portage to see if any warblers I barely glimpsed at on Sunday were there for a better view.
The green-up is in progress and the treetops are full of tiny bugs and worms we can’t see, but the birds know where to look for them.
After hearing and then eventually seeing a couple Chestnut-sided Warblers, I was lucky enough to have an intimate moment with this individual. We exchanged thoughts about spring and sunshine.
I always hear five or more House Wrens, but rarely see them. Tuesday morning was a special day, though, because it seemed like all these guys were out and showing off. The very last photograph below shows one going into his nest.
Another very vocal group rarely seen are the Warbling Vireos. I followed this one around with the camera.
There were still a couple Ruby-Crowned Kinglets here and there. Only now, like the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, when you’re looking for warblers, these birds become “distractors,” to quote one of my favorite guides, Mitch Lysinger.
Even Blue Jays seem to be more visible. I’ve had one in my yard all week, too, although he leaves the minute he sees me.
On this beautiful morning I was delighted to find one of my favorite sparrows, Lincoln’s.
There were still a few Blue-Winged Warblers. It’s been a good year to see them.
Female Goldfinches never get much press so I thought I’d share these two photos.
I always hear White-Throated Sparrows’ little chip notes before I see them. It was nice to have one posing.
In the Big Bird Flyover Department, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen an Osprey. I used to see one flying over the Des Plaines River when I visited Ottawa Trail, but that location is no longer available. I haven’t been back since they built a levy. It will be interesting to see what happens with the river, with all the rain we are getting this week.
A rare glimpse of Mrs. Bluebird Tuesday morning.
Early on I saw this Least Flycatcher from the bridge, at quite a distance.
Most of the warblers were distant and high in the trees, so much so that I didn’t always know what I was looking at until I processed the photos.
Black-and-White Warblers have been a bit evasive this year.
Something about the cool, slow start to spring has made the moss look happier.
Here’s a bird I never thought I’d see. It was really far away so I had no idea what it was until later.
Palm Warblers are still around but blending in too well with their surroundings.
One of my favorites, Canada Warbler, was down low but in the shade.
Here’s one of two female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks I saw together in the same location.
I first saw the man below a couple weeks ago, I think. He was playing loud music from that speaker thing he’s got in his right hand. Keeping my social distance, I cupped my hands over my ears. The next time I heard him coming, he was playing “Scotland the Brave”. I thought about whatever PTSD he was suffering from, it was too bad he had to foist it on other people, but I decided not to let him bother me and maybe it was a good thing he was walking his dog in the woods. Anyway, it’s likely he’s been out every day since the lockdown began.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are challenging to spot, but it’s often rewarding when I do see them.
Below you can barely see a Spotted Sandpiper in the shadow of the bent log.
I actually saw a flock of thirty or more Common Grackles fly in on Tuesday.
There are a lot of Brown-headed Cowbirds this year.
Here’s one of those surprise warblers I found later in the photographs. I had to do some thinking about this one. When I think of a Blackburnian Warbler I always imagine the males. This is a female. It took me a while to figure her out.
Magnolias are usually easier to see than this one, but migration isn’t over yet.
Distant but distinguishable Black-throated Green Warblers.
I don’t see Hairy Woodpeckers half as often as Downies. I find though that I’m getting to be able to distinguish them by their feather pattern first.
I had been waiting for the Indigo Buntings to show up. I was to see about a dozen of them yesterday. These two were the first I saw on Tuesday.
Baltimore Orioles are setting up their territories.
Thanks for making it to the end of this long post! After I kept adding birds to the ebird list, I reported 51 species for Tuesday morning. I went back to the Portage Saturday and found some more beautiful birds. I’ll be back as soon as possible. Hope you are safe and well as can be, wherever you are.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to participate in the Spring Bird Count in DuPage County. I have done this count for a number of years, but this time, with social distancing, it was different. We split up so we each covered one area. I was assigned the Silver Lake part of Blackwell Forest Preserve, a location I was not familiar with, but was easy to navigate with the map Jody gave me, and I can get lost anywhere. Since I could only do the morning and there was no time limit, I had a wonderful experience listening for and spotting all the birds I could identify at a leisurely pace.
I felt especially privileged because under the current New Normal, I would not have been allowed to visit DuPage County preserves because I am not a resident. The county decided last month to limit parking to its residents. We speculated there was an overflow of people from Cook County, where I live, due to the closing of the lakefront. So I don’t know when I’ll be able to revisit this lovely place, but now that I am more familiar with it, I plan to do so when restrictions end.
I was beginning to feel like I am the only person on earth who hadn’t seen a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak yet so I was happy to find one singing high up in a tall tree.
Love was definitely in the air, albeit chilly after freezing temperatures overnight, for local breeders. I usually can’t get a glimpse of a Blue Jay long enough to photograph, but this pair united for some courtship behavior, exchanging some tiny seeds you might be able to see if you click on the images below.
And when it was all over I somehow managed to catch this Blue Jay in flight.
Yellow-Rumped Warblers are usually quite common, however brief the period of spring migration, so it’s easy to overlook how truly beautiful they are. This one was happy to display all his yellow parts except for his namesake.