Few warblers are as exciting to observe as the male Blackburnian Warbler in springtime. I keep asking myself why I took so many pictures of at least three individuals on Tuesday, but the only answer I can come up with is “because I could.”
I mean, this is truly a good reason to give in to obsession.
And with so many opportunities, I kept taking them…
Another beautiful bird is the Bay-breasted Warbler. If you remember my fall posts at all, I had several of these birds represented and they looked almost nothing like they do now.
The thing that made it so relatively easy to keep clicking away was the combination of hungry birds in numbers. I really think the birds were less concerned about me than they were with fueling up for their flights north. Also, the leaves were just starting to appear, so it was easier to see the birds than even a day or two later.
A few more of the Bay-breasted…
If you have made it this far, let’s go for a third species.
Black-and-white Warblers I had already seen and photographed this spring, but it’s always a challenge to get a good image.
Just to let you know I did not ignore the Robins…
I will be back with yet more warblers from Tuesday and other birds observed. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
The anticipation of seeing more birds after the long, hot summer is part of what has driven me to go out every morning. The other part came later – after doing so a few days in a row, it has occurred to me that I need these long, meditative walks every morning to stay sane.
The idea of retirement will be more than just finally having time to do what I want to do. It’s becoming more of a challenge of self-care and survival. I am becoming fiercely protective of what I have carved out to be Time Spent Not Thinking About Work – which to some degree unfortunately still exists and will lurk on the sidelines until I am finally completely done with it.
The Portage had warblers for three days last week and I took way too many pictures. These were all taken on September 6th. In spite of all the ones I discarded there are still too many. I am grateful for the Ovenbird at the top of this post. I have also become familiar with their cute little “blip” calls and I have heard many more than I have seen.
“Maggies” (Magnolia Warblers) and Redstarts seemed to be everywhere last week. I am beginning to sense the end of that now.
American Redstarts below.
The bright yellow throat of a Blackburnian Warbler is below.
Mixed among the warblers there have been a significant number of Red-Eyed Vireos like the one below.
Below, a far-away Blackpoll Warbler.
A Black-and-White Warbler blending into the tree bark.
Of course there are other birds besides warblers. Below is a young Gray Catbird.
And the woods have been filled with Thrushes. Below is a Gray-Cheeked Thrush.
Swainson’s Thrushes have been everywhere and every day since.
The Thrush below looked like a Hermit Thrush to me but it was way too early. I didn’t feel like challenging my sighting with these photos – I suppose it could be another Swainson’s.
As if you needed more glimpses of the forever moving Redstarts…
Though every once in a while they sit still…
More photos of my one cooperative Ovenbird.
I caught the Starling below just after I got out of my car.
I was really surprised to find a Golden-winged Warbler in my photos. They aren’t great images but this is a bird I don’t see too often, so it’s worth posting it.
Below is a Tennessee Warbler.
Baltimore Orioles should have been gone by this date but I heard one call and then saw this one later.
Maybe my best bird of that day was the Yellow-throated Vireo below. I particularly love how its blue legs came through.
Way too many birds in one day. I am exhausted trying to finish this post, so I think I will be back sooner with shorter ventures before I dive into the next day.
For what it’s worth we are having our second choir rehearsal in the sanctuary tonight, masked, socially-distanced, and dressed in our black choir attire (to show off our custom-made stoles) – to be videotaped singing for insertion into the Sunday service. A step forward. It’s so good to sing in the ensemble again.
There were still some warblers on May 24, but the Bird of the Day for me was Red-Eyed Vireo. I had been wondering where these birds were, and then they all seemed to show up at once. Usually you hear them singing and don’t see them very well as they move through the trees chasing insects. But this time they were more often seen than heard. In some of these photographs you might actually be able to see the red eye for which they are named.
Many of the warblers I saw that day were females. The females tend to migrate later than the males who are in a hurry to set up their territories. Spring migration this year seemed strange for many reasons – the pandemic affecting where you could go to find birds, the weather which is always a factor, and I guess the knowledge in the back of your mind that birds are in decline and you wonder just how many you’re going to see anyway.
Below is a Yellow Warbler who likely is on territory for the summer. I recorded him singing, and you can hear him three times in the little clip below his picture. Some people find the mnemonic “sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet” helpful in distinguishing this song from others they might be hearing.
I feel fortunate to have seen a Canada Warbler more than once this spring. Unfortunately they prefer somewhat shady spots which I guess they blend into better than bright sunlight. I love the steel-gray blue color of their backs. I would support a Pantone color called Canada Warbler Blue.
Northern Cardinals are all around but not seen too often. This one was far away but distinct.
Baltimore Orioles are getting harder to see now that they are busy rearing families.
Indigo Buntings are busy too but there are so many of them, they are easier to see.
This might have been the last time I saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Actually I’m surprised I got to see more than its tail. I still hear them, but only on occasion, certainly not constantly like a few weeks ago when they first arrived.
A couple more warblers – there seemed to be fewer American Redstarts this year, at least where I was. And I just learned something I never bothered to look up before about distinguishing the female Chestnut-sided Warbler from the male – the bright chestnut sides don’t extend as far down the side on the female. So the pictures below are of a female. And since I continue to hear a male singing at the Portage I can only wonder if there might be an actual breeding pair.
I still hear the Eastern Wood-Pewee but this might have been the last time I got photo ops.
The big surprise walking back in the opposite direction across the first bridge was to see this Robin’s nest right off the side of the bridge, in plain sight – and I had never noticed it before. Mom was in a nearby tree, waiting to revisit her brood.
A bird more often heard than seen..Gray Catbird.
I love this last picture of the Red-eyed Vireo. Having said that, I realized a few days ago that I need to bring more control to my blog posts when I take so many pictures and can’t decide what to do with them and invariably end up with too many – believe it or not, this is a pared-down selection. I really need to use my flickr page more often, so I stuck some other photographs there and if you’re really curious, follow the link to them. I will try to be back sooner with the final installment of the Memorial Day weekend excursions and reports from other destinations since. Hope you are staying safe and well and rising to the daily challenges.
The Memorial Day weekend this year offered three beautiful days of birding at the Portage. I had no desire to go anywhere else; rather, I was interested to see what different birds I might discover each day, enhanced by the fact that a lot of birds were finally on the move to their summer homes. Here are photographs from Saturday, May 23rd.
While I think this was the last day I saw the male Scarlet Tanagers, there were plenty of Indigo Buntings. I am not aware of Scarlet Tanagers breeding at the Portage, but the Indigo Buntings certainly are a presence now every year. I suspect some of them that return may have hatched at the Portage.
I don’t know where the Green Herons are hanging out – likely on the Des Plaines River or perhaps across the railroad tracks in the low-lying water-collecting areas of Ottawa Trail – but I still see them fly over nearly every visit. I was fortunate enough to capture this one in flight.
This Scarlet Tanager looks orange compared to the other one. I imagine it is a function of the intensity and angle of the light.
Not too many warblers left…
Goldfinches are everywhere but not as easy to see.
There were plenty of Baltimore Orioles and they looked like they were busy tending to their nesting sites.