Columbus Park: 2 Extracurricular Visits

We Oak Park bird walk people got together twice more to visit Columbus Park on October 15 and 29 respectively. The 15th was definitely birdier with plenty of Golden-crowned Kinglets showing off.

A rather familiar sight in the pond at Columbus Park is a gaggle of Canada Geese and that day was no exception.

You may remember the Great Blue Heron at the back door of the Refectory from the last time we were there. It was back in the same spot again.

The leaf color was a factor on that sunny morning, making nice backgrounds for the birds.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I was delighted to find this series of photos of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

We had several sparrow species that day too. Unfortunately they weren’t always that easy to see. Below is a Swamp Sparrow and then beneath it, a Clay-colored Sparrow.

I got several photos of a Song Sparrow in a thicket trying hard not to be seen.

And I nearly missed photographing this Fox Sparrow.

There were Dark-eyed Juncos, with this one being the only one I managed to capture. Sometimes all you see of a Junco is its white tail feathers flashing.

We also had a Brown Creeper. I think it’s the last one I have seen this fall.

At some point perhaps over 200 Canada Geese flew overhead and then landed in the water.

Here are some more photos of the Golden-crowned Kinglet at the top of the post.

A Palm Warbler was present in the wildflower garden.

Sometimes an American Robin can be interesting, as I found this one flying over the water.

The next time we met on October 29, the water looked like this. It’s a beautiful reflecting pool. Notice there were no birds in it.

We saw hardly any birds at all that morning after covering our usual bases. However, a Great Blue Heron did us a favor and landed right in front of us.

It was only around 9:15 AM when we decided to call it quits. I had an errand to run and then decided to go over to the Chicago Portage to see what was happening there. Being the last Saturday of the month, the volunteer crew was on hand, noisily sawing trees somewhere off the inside trail. So that part of the preserve was off limits. But logic told me the birds might be somewhere else and I did find quite a few on the outside trail.

There were White-throated Sparrows.

And a few American Goldfinches.

And some House Finches were present too.

One of several busy Downy Woodpeckers.

A Dark-eyed Junco was foraging on the second bridge.

Milkweed seed pods caught my eye.

I found another late Nashville Warbler.

Of course there were some Golden-crowned Kinglets. This was the only one I managed to capture in a pensive moment. There were other species as well, but the photos aren’t worthy of your attention.

The weather kept me reluctant to walk the trails the last two mornings. This morning was a study in fog and drizzle. I look forward to going a bit farther tomorrow. We are promised sunshine. And we are still well above freezing. I will be back.

Colorful Fall Birds at Columbus Park

The spell was finally broken at Columbus Park on Saturday. We actually saw some migrants. It began with a couple Cape May Warblers that I simply could not take my lens off of.

Another individual almost looked like a different species altogether, he was so stripey.

They were both busy in the center of the same tree with a Yellow-rumped Warbler or two. A Yellow-rumped is in the first three photos below and the last photograph in the series shows a Cape May Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler together on the same branch.

There was a Nashville Warbler later on.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in the same area as the Cape May Warblers but it was moving so quickly from tree to tree, I barely captured the image below.

When we first arrived, there were Mallards tooling around in the shallow water by the Refectory.

Later across the pond on the other side we spotted a juvenile Great Blue Heron standing at the back door of the Refectory.

I made a quick visit to the Chicago Portage after our walk to see if there was any extra activity there. I was going to include those photos in this post but I think I will just do a separate post as I went back there again Sunday morning and found more birds sort of in the same spot.

And actually I simply have way too many photographs of the Cape Mays at Columbus to make room for anything else. I couldn’t help myself. I was surprised to see the bug also making an escape in the first photo below.

I managed to capture a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There were Golden-crowned Kinglets too but they were elusive this time around.

At one point someone noticed a hawk in the middle of a bare tree with grackles and robins perched all around keeping an eye on it. It turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk. None of the photos were good with all the branches in the way.

However many Yellow-rumped Warblers were present, they weren’t always easy to photograph. But I kind of like how this one blended into the background in these two shots. The bird was fairly distant so these have been cropped considerably.

Of course I have a few more of the Cape Mays. I will be back very soon with the last two visits to the Portage – before I try to get caught up again with the other visits that preceded them.

We have been blessed with the gift of beautiful fall weather the past few days. That makes it easier to get up and out earlier. With the days getting shorter and the nights getting colder, the time to observe fall migration seems precious and limited. I am grateful.

Weather or Not

A busy weekend sort of slid into place. Our delightful choir party/rehearsal late Saturday afternoon precluded my usual Saturday early evening activity of cleaning the living room and swapping out the dirty cages for clean ones. Then there was getting up early Sunday morning to sing. Any thought of being outside on Sunday was drowned out by steady rain. In spite of the flood warnings, my trees and native plants rose to the occasion again and kept the basement dry. It might have been a good day to write, but after a long nap – which indicates it was a good day to sleep – I spent much of the afternoon and evening in motion, cleaning the living room and dining room, swapping out the dirty curtains and huts for clean, turning the fans off and leaving the windows open a couple inches as the temperature dropped, keeping me cool in all my effort.

(My dryer doesn’t heat, and I am somewhere between repair and replacement, so the curtains are dry but will have to hang out their wrinkles, or not: I’m not ironing them!)

I woke up to a cool 70 degrees F. inside, closed all the windows and hoped for a little sunshine later to keep us comfortable as the temperatures remain quite low today. I went swimming and the pool temperature, at 80 degrees F., felt warm enough. it will be a good day for baking bread and making soup.

I’m posting pictures today from September 3 which was the first Oak Park fall migration bird walk of 2022 for which I was responsible. We met at Columbus Park, and will be visiting there again this coming Saturday morning. I went on to the Chicago Portage afterward and there are a few photos from there mixed in as well. I will visit the Chicago Portage tomorrow and see what if anything came in with yesterday’s weather.

That lovely Red-eyed Vireo at the top of the post had a lot of company.

More Red-eyed Vireos. Easily the most visible bird of the day.

Except for American Goldfinches. They were in abundance at Columbus Park. I was delighted to see them feeding off the Cupplant which they have also been visiting in my backyard.

We have had a lot of Swainson’s Thrushes this fall and this day was no exception, making it easier to spot this one.

And it’s been a good year for Gray-cheeked Thrushes as well.

Warbling Vireos were still abundant. But I won’t be surprised if I don’t hear one tomorrow. They might have grabbed that southward wind yesterday.

Warbler-wise, not much, but a few haphazard captures.

American Redstart

This was the last Common Whitetail dragonfly I saw, at Columbus Park.

And likely my last Spotted Sandpiper was there too, at the beginning of our walk as we looked out over the water.

That’s it for now. Fall migration continues. Fall-like temperatures for another day or so, too. One more of the Red-eyed Vireo at the top. This bird had a great sense for presentation.

Three Visits to Columbus Park

Two weeks after the last formal walk at Columbus Park on May 14, I joined the two Eds from those walks to see what was up after it seemed all the warblers were gone. Suffice it to say that the water birds made up for the lack of passerine diversity. In spite of an event going on at the park, two Great Blue Herons and two Black-crowned Night Herons tolerated all the noise and our attention and gave us some great looks.

There’s invariably a Great Blue Heron here but I’ve never seen one up in a tree like the one in the series below.

These photos are from April 16, May 14 and May 28 so the vegetation keeps changing.

On April 16 we were lucky to see an early Northern Parula.

Although I saw this species on a few other occasions these were the best looks I had all spring.

Also in the old reeds left over from last year was an American Tree Sparrow.

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow posed over the water

There was one little Field Sparrow back on the April visit.

There’s usually at least a pair of Wood Ducks but they don’t always offer such great photo opportunities.

Below from the last visit, a Wood Duck hen with six ducklings.

Once the Red-winged Blackbirds show up, they stay for the summer.

On the last visit there were some more grown up goslings than an on earlier visit.

Back in April, two Double-crested Cormorants swimming together.

The Black-crowned Night Herons are sometimes so well camouflaged.

Back in April I followed this Great Blue Heron in flight.

On May 14, there was a visible Red-eyed Vireo.

And on the last visit two weeks later, a Warbling Vireo made itself known.

Here’s an earlier photo of a Great Blue Heron.

The Black-crowned Night Herons are simply photogenic.

But I’ll let the Wood Duck have the last word.

A rainy forecast for today gave me the time to sit here and put this together. I’ll be back out on the trail tomorrow morning. There will likely be more photographs of dragonflies coming, like the female Eastern Forktail Damselfly below – if that is indeed what this is. I noticed it at Columbus Park on the last visit.

What? Winter? Left Overs

My windshield looked like this, this morning, when I went out to start the car so I could sing with the choir for our first choir Sunday in two years.

It fits this post, which is a little collection of wintertime visits that I never managed to mention. The first was a visit to Columbus Park on 12-30-21.

I had gone to see if a Greater White-fronted Goose was still visible after it had been reported for several days. But by this time the water had frozen and so many Canada Geese were sitting on the ice it was too hard to tell.

Still, it was a beautiful, sunny day with lots of virgin snow.

Another beautiful sunny day a month later, on January 30, 2022, I decided to visit the Little Red Schoolhouse after another snowfall. Below is a view of Longjohn Slough which borders the trail starting at the Nature Center.

A few birds were visible.

American Tree Sparrow
Blue Jay
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Red-bellied Woodpecker

As I walked the trail, I came across a sign denoting the original location of the school for which the forest preserve is named.

Then in my yard on February 15, a Cooper’s Hawk sat for a long time in the redbud tree right outside the porch windows. I could not resist taking too many pictures. Here are a few.

I miss a lot of beautiful sunsets and can barely see hints of them through my kitchen or porch windows, but I tried to commemorate the winter clouds anyway.

I am full of music from singing at the service which was devoted to the Spring Equinox. What began as a cold morning has turned into a beautiful day. The sun is shining brightly. I hope this is my last windshield ice for a while.

Another Crow Post

When it occurred to me that nearly the entire month of February had gone by without another visit to the lakefront, I took advantage of last weekend’s beautiful weather on Sunday morning and went down to see the Crows and whatever else I could find.

In anticipation of however many Crows I could encounter and the chilly temperatures, I made a batch of Birdz Cookies to offer along with the peanuts in the shell. I was curious to see whether the Crows would remember the Birdz Cookies, which started out years ago as peanut butter-oatmeal-raisin and have gone through many healthier – and more delicious, I might add – modifications, while still remaining true to those three ingredients.

I didn’t see any Crows until I had walked past all of this.

Train tracks looking south from Jackson Street bridge
Buckingham Fountain

I was nearly at the corner where I would cross Monroe and then Lake Shore Drive when the first Crow found me. I perhaps should mention that until I see a Crow, I don’t stop to take the offering out of my backpack. So the Crows recognize me before they see the food. Either they have x-ray vision (which I wouldn’t doubt), or I fit the description of Crow Feeder, or both.

It wasn’t long before there were three more Crows.

And then the Birdz Cookies became the preferred snack. I was thrilled.

I mean, really, is there anything more beautiful than a glossy black Crow with a Birdz Cookie? Yeah, maybe one who has figured out how to grab a piece of cookie and a peanut at the same time.