Not Just Another Grassland: Bartel

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

I thought to myself earlier in the week, looking forward to birding two grasslands, that by this time I might have had my fill of this type of habitat, but to the contrary, the next places to visit, circling in my mind, are more of the same. Except that they have not been and will not be the same. Yes, I saw some of the same species at Bartel Grassland that were at Goose Lake Prairie. But there were others that were different. And the habitats are remarkably unique within themselves.

Gathering for the Walk

Gathering for the Walk

Of course it was a different experience going on a field trip with the Chicago Ornithological Society (COS) and 15-20 people (it seemed like a large group) than being totally alone. But whatever I lost in being able to record sounds, I probably gained in sightings. And the genial camaraderie of birding with people, some of whom I knew or had encountered before, falling in and out of conversations along the trail, was welcome, and as always, educational.

Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

I haven’t been to Bartel for years, and then perhaps only twice. It is an ongoing restoration project. Each time I have been with a group and Dick Riner, the site steward, has been available for guidance and comment. I wish I had time to volunteer, to learn more from Dick and to experience the grassland from the ground up as it changes through the seasons. But I’m finding it hard enough to work in my own backyard. And the way Dick tells it, the high school kids are the best volunteers because of their energy physical capabilities. Grassland restoration is hard work!

Great Blue chased by RWBB 7-6-14-0966

Weather-wise we started out overcast and even a bit chilly. But that was not enough to stop a Red-Winged Blackbird from harassing a Great Blue Heron.

RWBB piggybacking on GRBH 7-6-14-0974

Someone mentioned the blackbird was riding piggyback on the heron. I can’t tell if the photograph above captured this or if it was some ruffled feathers, but you get the idea.

One of the target birds was Henslow’s Sparrow, which we heard quite a bit before we actually saw one. All the birds were too far away to photograph but I took my chances anyway and managed to get a few.

Henslow's Sparrow

Henslow’s Sparrow

We had a couple Savannah Sparrows that were a bit closer to the trail.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

At times the trail, or the beginning of one, stopped abruptly.

Marianne Hahn Trail 7-6-14-1199Marianne Hahn Trail Sign 7-6-14-1199

Perhaps best represented of the target birds were Boboliniks, even though Dick told us we seemed to have just missed most of them, when a few days ago there were perhaps hundreds more gathering to fly south toward their wintering grounds in Argentina. Bartel has the second largest population of breeding Bobolinks in Illinois, the first being at Midewin. But Midewin is so huge you might never be able to see as many as we did today. There were about 20. The females were a little easier to get pictures of.

Bobolink (male)

Male Bobolink

Two views of a female. Click on the pictures and you might actually be able to see them!

Female Bobolink 7-6-14-1171

Female Bobolink

Female Bobolink

Eastern Meadowlarks…were present but difficult to capture. Still it was nice to see as well as hear them.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

The milkweed is thick and in full bloom at Bartel, and insects could not resist it. I found this bee hanging from it at the very start.

Bee on Milkweed

Bee on Milkweed

I don’t think I have ever seen a Halloween Pennant before. This is a new dragonfly for me, and quite a flashy one.

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

Whatever the moth on the milkweed, it was not revealing itself to me. But by now the sun was shining brightly, offering a better picture.

Milkweed 7-6-14-1090

Another look at the Savannah Sparrow.

Savannah Sparrow 7-6-14-1111

On the way back to my car I noticed the Blazing Star starting to bloom.

Blazing Star

Blazing Star

It’s been a beautiful weekend.

It’s going to be hard to go to work tomorrow.

To be continued…

 

 

Bees are Musicians Too

Bee on Cone Flower, Lurie Garden

Bee on Coneflower, Lurie Garden

Okay, this is slightly off-topic, but I found it pretty interesting. I read an article in The New York Times science section about how bees get certain flowers to release their pollen by buzzing at a certain frequency which releases the pollen. It’s a fascinating article. At one point the researcher compares bees to “little tuning forks.” All that buzzing has a reason. Music to my ears.

Bee in Cone Flower IMG_5115_1

Of course I have been bemoaning the lack of bees in my yard. Somebody else must be pollinating my tomato plants because they are bearing fruit, but I am not seeing the hoards of bees I used to have on my flowers. And my coneflowers don’t look as lush as usual. Now I know it must be because there are no bees to turn them on.

Another Bee

Another Bee

These pictures were taken yesterday afternoon at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park. I confess I have been avoiding the parks since The Taste of Chicago began on Wednesday, but the weather was beautiful and I wanted to try out my new Canon 70-300mm lens. I sent the old one away to be fixed because it had stopped focusing after balking and acting up for about a year, but now I’m wondering if I’ll ever want to use it again. Never hurts to have a spare, but this new lens has spoiled me already.

The Taste IMG_5079_1

I had to check and see how the new park is coming along…

Daley IMG_5082_1

Lurie was full of flowers, and here are some of my favorites. I also took pictures of the identification boards they update regularly, depending on the season. But the Compass Plant, one of which I photographed, doesn’t appear on either side of the board. Maybe there wasn’t room for everything and they had to leave the Compass Plants out, but they are big and blooming all over Lurie and on the restored prairies too.

Queen of the Prairie

Queen of the Prairie

Rusty Foxglove

Rusty Foxglove

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake Master

Blazing Star

Blazing Star

Pale Coneflower

Pale Coneflower

Compass Plant

Compass Plant

Lurie Flowers 1 IMG_5126_1

Lurie Flowers 2IMG_5128_1

Not many breeding birds were available for photographs, but I did catch this female Red-Winged Blackbird running an errand, and when she flew away the camera caught her reddish epaulets which don’t show very often.

Female RWBB Lurie IMG_5086_1

Female RwBB Lurie IMG_5087_1

Female RWBB Lurie Garden IMG_5088_1

Maybe the subtitle of this post should be “Prairie in the City.”

Prairie in the City IMG_5084_1

At the south end of the park, the sculpture garden still blooms.

Sculptures IMG_5061_1

And as I waited for the light to change on Michigan Avenue on my way back to the office, a saxophonist I have never heard was playing very well with a band recording.

Summer in the City IMG_5138_1

Summer in the City

There are no crows in this post, and that is no accident. They are keeping a very low profile with the summer crowds. But I bet they know where the Waste From The Taste is.