Here it is the end of September and I am just getting around to photos from the 10th taken at – where else? – the Chicago Portage. The activity seemed to die down a bit that day so there aren’t quite so many to sift through. Magnolia Warbler above and directly below.
I’m not 100% sure but I think the bird directly below is a Pine Warbler. One of those confusing fall warblers…
This was the first time I had seen a Northern Parula in a while. A not-so-common warbler around here.
A few other birds seen that weren’t warblers…
Blackpoll Warblers have been everywhere, or so it seems. Below is another.
Never confusing, a Black-and-White Warbler below. I suppose if you couldn’t see them well you might mistake one for a nuthatch as they behave the same way.
This Nashville Warbler could have been in better light…
The other ubiquitous warbler that is easy to confuse with the Blackpoll is the Bay-breasted Warbler, below.
Chipmunks are everywhere too – it seems like a bumper crop this year.
One more of the Northern Parula.
I’m afraid I will be back shortly with another surfeit of something. This birding every morning to make up for not being able to do it while I was working is…almost like going to work. But I am enjoying myself and it seems imperative to pay attention and keep track of the birds while I still can. Learning how to navigate retirement with…a sense of purpose.
After groveling about making the long drive all the way up to McHenry County around Memorial Day, I went back on July 5th to celebrate my birthday and then again on July 25th. Needless to say now I’m getting used to the drive and the trail and I may have a hard time staying away before October which is when I plan to go back for Sandhill Cranes that purportedly congregate in the fallow farm fields.
I feel like I could start giving some of the individual birds names, like the Willow Flycatcher at the top of the post. I even heard a confirming “fitz-bew” on the last Saturday.
I expected to see more Yellow-headed Blackbirds. On the fifth, the males were really too far away for decent photographs, but I did get to see a female close to the observation deck. I went back on the 25th because I wanted to see many juveniles like I did years ago, but I couldn’t find one Yellow-headed Blackbird anywhere. I must have just missed them. But that’s okay, because I saw some other interesting birds, and it’s just so peaceful to be there. In fact on the second visit when I got there, I had the whole place to myself. I didn’t stay long though because it was very hot.
I found the Gallinule below in my photographs from both visits. This is a great place to go if you carry a spotting scope. But I don’t have the energy to carry a scope and a telephoto lens. Perhaps I should rethink my philosophy of cutting corners. For instance, the combination of two visits in this blog post – it’s becoming evident as I write it that it’s entirely too long.
I did see a pair of Sandhill Cranes on each visit. I have not seen any with offspring, which is a bit disappointing.
Another “only in my photos” discovery – a last Black Tern seen on the 5th. Well, my camera saw it.
Here’s the turtle covered with duck weed that appeared in the background of one of the Yellow-headed Blackbird photos above. If you click on the pictures you can see how the duck weed makes it look like something from another planet.
There are still a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds here and everywhere. They are in no hurry to leave, I suppose, because they won’t have so far to go in the fall.
I was hoping I would find a Yellow-headed Blackbird when I blew this up but it turned out to be a Red-winged Blackbird. That’s okay, it’s kind of nice to see the feather pattern, albeit faded. Below the photo, two different Red-winged calls I heard on these visits.
The “other” blackbird – Brown-headed Cowbirds.
Dragonflies like this place.
On both occasions there were swallows, but in particular on the 25th there seemed to be a lot of them. It was nice to see the Bank Swallows – I don’t see them very often.
The Song Sparrow below was on the 5th. There are two more individuals further down the post whose songs I recorded and put underneath their photographs.
This Yellow Warbler was the last one I saw, on the 5th.
I am quite sure this is probably the same Great Blue Heron, although the photos are from both occasions.
I always seem to startle this Great Egret, which must have been right by the viewing platform as I approached.
A Green Heron flew by twice on the 25th.
Here’s Song Sparrow No. 1 and Song Sparrow No. 2. Song Sparrows reportedly have thousands of songs so it’s not unusual that they were singing different tunes…
And another singer I was happy to record – and manage to photograph, as they are often elusive in the marsh – a Marsh Wren.
My most cooperative subject at this location has been a Willow Flycatcher.
There were a couple distant Wild Turkeys hanging out not far from the Sandhills on the 25th.
Always happy to see a Monarch Butterfly… – I stand corrected. The two on the left are Viceroys!
I think it might be a ground squirrel on the left… there are holes on the trail that look perfect for a ground squirrel. But they could both be Chipmunks…
I found this feather interesting on my walk back to the car on the 25th. I thought it might belong to a hawk or a turkey, even, but none of the extensive feather identification webpages have given me the answer. My first thought was a crow, actually. Maybe I should go with that…
My reward for showing up on the later visit was to see these two Black-crowned Night-Herons arrive and perch not far from the viewing platform. One is an adult, and the other a juvenile.
Many thanks for making it to the end of this long post. As hot as it was a week and a half ago, as I finish writing this, we have dropped down into fall-like temperatures for a couple days. A reminder. I suppose, that nothing stays the same, as if I needed it. No, honestly, it’s absolutely delightful to have the windows open: I feel less confined and it’s delightful. Stay safe and I will see you again soon in another post. 🙂
The weather has turned suddenly hot and it’s hard not to wonder what effect that’s having on spring migration. I sense that to a large degree, no? pun intended, the heat wave has sent those who move farther north packing. I had hoped we would still see a few warblers yesterday on my second time leading a walk at the Portage, but we only heard a couple Yellow Warblers and never saw them. I’ll be back later with a few pictures from yesterday. But this is a more historical post, with a few pictures from the trip two weeks ago to the Portage, and a few more from a walk I took at Ottawa Trail just to see what was going on closer to the Des Plaines River.
Magnolia Warblers move predictably enough to photograph. This time the easiest bird to capture was a female; I caught only glimpses of a male.
One bird that I haven’t seen in quite a while appeared toward the end of our walk two weeks ago. It’s a Yellow-Throated Vireo.
It’s gotten so hot in the last few days it’s hard to believe that last weekend it was still cool enough to warrant layered clothing in the morning.
The Green Herons were both on site two weeks ago, and the turtles were starting to emerge to soak up what little sunlight was occasionally available.
I think this was my last Hermit Thrush of the season.
I likely won’t see another Lincoln’s Sparrow until fall either.
But it looks like I might be seeing a Great Egret from time to time at the Portage this year. We saw it a couple times yesterday.
The pictures below are hardly worth sharing, but this is my last Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.
I used to see shorebirds more frequently but in the last couple years they have been few and far between, so I was happy we had a Spotted Sandpiper on the left, and the Killdeer on the right. I usually hear or see Killdeer flying, but sandpipers have been generally absent.
House Wrens are here to stay for the summer.
A female American Redstart below.
And more shots of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. Yesterday we heard them constantly but didn’t see one.
White-Tailed Deer at Ottawa Trail
It’s rare to see a Chipmunk sitting still but this one wasn’t self-conscious at all.
Indigo Buntings, male and female.
And the surprise two weeks ago was an Orchard Oriole.
Often more heard than seen, the Northern Cardinal below, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a Song Sparrow, all at Ottawa Trail.
The heat may keep me indoors more than I’d like. That could mean more blog posts, however. For the moment it’s time to get out in the yard before the heat of the day takes over. Lots of work to do there. Happy Summer to All…
Somewhere the images I manage to capture of birds over the years accumulate in well-organized collages in my mind’s eye, and from those conglomerations comes empathy for the individuals of the any species and an appreciation for their irreplaceable contributions to life on the planet.
I haven’t seen many species of late, due somewhat to my inability to frequent the lakefront parks, but when I revisit some of these photographs I took from weekends ago at the Chicago Portage and Ottawa Trail, I am reminded of how special birds surprisingly show up–because birds are creatures of flight, they can fly and land anywhere, and no ultralight aircraft will ever be a match for a bird–and I am lucky to be alive to see them. Like the Golden-Winged Warbler below that popped up at Ottawa Trail on September 9. I couldn’t get great pictures but I am grateful I got to see such a beautiful and sometimes rare bird.
The Red-Bellied Woodpecker below must be a youngster. Colors aren’t quite set yet, still has a fluffy, unfinished look about him.
I never tire of seeing a Magnolia Warbler. Below is either a female or a young male.
Flycatchers were still around during the first days of our heat wave, which is thankfully over except now we are approaching drought. The facing pictures of the Phoebe below were from the Portage and the one below them from Ottawa Trail.
Usually I only hear Pewees but that day I got to see this one.
Swainson’s Thrushes were abundant but not always easy to see. After going back and forth I have decided the larger picture below is of a Gray-Cheeked Thrush.
And the last of the young Indigo Buntings were preparing to leave the Portage.
I have never seen a Chipmunk sit still long enough for me to point a camera lens at it. This is worth sharing.
More recent memories to come and if I see a few more migrants before the passerine migration is over, I will try to share them with you.
I went to La Bagh Woods for the first time this past weekend after hearing it identified as a birding “hot spot,” particularly during spring migration, for years. This has been a weird warbler migration year, so I thought I might as well check it out. The primary regional hotspot, Montrose Harbor, has been predictably pretty good all season, particularly during the week while I’m at work, although the numbers have been low even for Montrose.
After coming downtown all week I am not in a hurry to frequent the lakefront. It’s generally crowded, which is not my favorite way to see birds. How can I be sure a bird is looking at me if there are ten other people with binoculars/cameras trained on it? This is also the place where those who can bring out their 800mm lenses and huge tripods and I feel silly, almost apologetic, schlepping around a 400mm lens.
I started out at La Bagh seeing a Wilson’s Warbler. I have always found Wilson’s to be friendly when they’re down about eye level, and this one was no exception. It was pretty shady though.
Wilson was not far from the landmark graffiti, which came in handy later when I was trying to find my way back to my car.
No surprise that I found a Lincoln’s Sparrow, I guess. There have been a lot of them this year. And here’s a goldfinch.
There’s an old railroad bed running alongside the preserve. The tracks have been removed, leaving gravel to walk on, out in the open, which is where I saw a Golden-Winged Warbler.
I wasn’t close enough to get a sharp picture but I’m excited anyway, this is the first Golden-Winged I’ve seen in years. Even though the warblers have been few and far between, they have been rewarding nonetheless.
Other forest creatures were perhaps better models. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to capture the two coyotes I saw early, but there were several deer,
and a squirrel looking strange carrying its young in its mouth up the tree.
Squirrel with young
There were a few thrushes. I managed to capture a Veery with its back toward me,
and this Swainson’s Thrush on a log.
What else? A Blackpoll Warbler with his back toward me.
A preening Baltimore Oriole with his back toward me too.