I haven’t been out for a walk the past two days, due to snow of one sort or another. I did manage a few visits last week in the gloom. These photos are all from Riverside, starting with January 18.
it was warmer last week and from time to time there were Canada Geese.
Any bird who sits still long enough to be photographed gets my attention.
There were geese on the lawn by the library.
And then I noticed a lot of American Tree Sparrows in the grass as well.
But then after I crossed the footbridge and started to walk the trail nearest the river in Riverside Lawn, I spotted a Winter Wren.
Seeing I was paying attention to the Winter Wren, a Carolina Wren came out to pose for me. This happened the last time I saw these two characters. I was also happy to hear a vocalization from the Carolina Wren that was new for me. I hope I remember it next time I hear it.
Fitting in with all the brown birds, a Mallard hen standing in a shallow spot.
And I saw 64H again. That may have been the last time I saw him.
My next visit on January 20 was much gloomier.
But there was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers in the river that made up for the gloom.
I barely caught the Belted Kingfisher in flight and then managed to find it perched later with its back to me.
Backlit gloom did no favors for this White-breasted Nuthatch.
On January 23, there were at least 100 Canada Geese by the footbridge. I couldn’t stuff them all into one frame.
The light wasn’t good enough to capture a Downy Woodpecker in focus, but he brightened up the gloom anyway.
I saw the Belted Kingfisher again. He was quite far away.
A Northern Cardinal was my consolation prize.
It’s been quiet, getting colder, and we are about to dip into the deep freeze. The snow so far hasn’t been too much of a problem as the temperature has been just above freezing most of the time, but it looks like the next few days we will have more snow to deal with in addition to the cold. Such is winter.
Looking forward to singing Sunday morning. It will be just sopranos and altos. We’re singing a lovely little song in Italian and I am looking forward to rolling my r’s.
More winter birds on the way. Hard to believe we’re almost done with January.
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.
As fall migration has waned and winter’s grip descends, searching for birds takes on a different cadence. Maybe in the cold you could use to walk a little faster, but then you might miss that brief view of the only bird you will have seen for the last five minutes.
These photos are from three walks along the Des Plaines River on November 9, 11 and 14. The 14th was the only morning with a little sunshine, so those gray skies are quite real. The 9th was the last time I saw the Great Blue Heron and not all that well.
Mallards predominate, predictably. The drakes’ deep green heads gleam in sunshine. Or even in cloud cover.
There were two Red-bellied Woodpeckers interacting on the 9th and one showed off its red belly.
This is the Des Plaines River looking north from the Joliet Avenue bridge, with a low water level, framed in the filigree of tree branches that have lost their leaves.
I guess the Golden-crowned Kinglets were easier to see without leaves in the way.
It’s also deer season again.
Dark-eyed Juncos are abundant but not always easy to photograph, especially being gray birds on gray days.
Of course there are plenty of Canada Geese too. This group must have attracted my attention as they stood in the river looking as if they were trying to figure out where to go next. I also liked the lone goose taking a one-footed nap with one eye open on me.
Here’s a sunnier look to the south from the Joliet Avenue bridge.
After crossing the foot bridge on Monday the 14th, I caught a brief look at a Carolina Wren.
I also had a Song Sparrow perched for a moment.
American Goldfinches are still busy eating all they can before they start relying on my backyard feeders. I look forward to them giving the House Sparrows a little competition.
I was surprised to see an Eastern Bluebird on the Riverside Lawn side. I don’t know why I can’t decide on just one photo. Probably because I took too many of them.
Here’s what the trail looked like on Monday. Not quite barren yet. And I have passed by that fallen log a million times without looking at it very closely. I suppose with less distraction the landmarks will become more evident.
I have chosen to stay in this morning. There may be a light freezing drizzle. The previously predicted snow is not exactly happening, now described as a “wintry mix.” I’ll go for a swim midday when I perceive the pool to be less crowded. Then I need to practice the line dance before tonight’s choir rehearsal. It’s just one of those days. I’ll get back to wandering around with the camera tomorrow.
From no light to almost too much, this past Saturday! It was clear and cold. The sunshine helped my mood a lot, especially because it wasn’t particularly windy.
It’s always good to see a Red-tailed Hawk, even if you can’t see the red tail – at least I could make out the belly band in the pictures.
Just when you think you know a place by heart, somebody does something to totally disrupt your perception of it. The first thing I noticed were tire tracks leading from the parking lot to a spot where there used to be some nice flat rocks I often sat on to take a break and look over the water. They were accompanied by a large pointy boulder. The rocks and boulder have been removed and this fence put around the area. I can’t imagine what is going in their place. Unfortunately I don’t believe I ever took any pictures of the rocks themselves. The goal was always to sit on them.
My stump was looking well-defined that morning.
A couple White-Throated Sparrows made themselves available on the way out after I answered their calls.
This Black-Capped Chickadee was fascinated by something in the wasp nest.
And a Red-Belled Woodpecker was busy digging around for bugs in tree bark.