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.

Goose Lake Prairie

Compass Plant

I finally managed to go through the rest of my photographs from my visit to Goose Lake Prairie last weekend. I’d had no particular target species or agenda in mind. I had hoped to maybe see a Grasshopper Sparrow, but I can’t say I even heard one, that was my only disappointment. A bit ironically, I first heard about Goose Lake Prairie on Cornell’s “More Birding By Ear” CDs, for the recorded songs of birds found there.

The most common species last weekend was probably Eastern Meadowlark.They were no longer singing, but they were chattering everywhere.

This parched version of the prairie is different from the last time I visited maybe three years ago. Rattlesnake Master, one of my favorite native prairie plants, seemed to be the only thing that thrived on the hot, dry weather.

The Wild Bergamot was almost spindly.

Wild Bergamot

Song Sparrows were predictably common. And still singing.

Song Sparrow

I heard a few Field Sparrows before I finally saw one.

Field Sparrow

I walked a long way before I finally started hearing Henslow’s Sparrows and then it seemed like they were everywhere. But they were singing hidden in the tall grass, until finally I managed to see and hear one sitting up. They were more cooperative a few weeks ago at Springbrook Prairie, but I don’t think I have ever heard so many of them as I did at Goose Lake Prairie. I simply adore Henslow’s Sparrows. Once gravely endangered, they have been making a real comeback in Illinois, due in large part to prairie restoration.

Henslow’s Sparrow

There were not too many butterflies or dragonflies, maybe just a few of the more common species.

Monarch Butterfly

Common Whitetail

And of course my photographic nemesis, Indigo Bunting, made a brief appearance.

Indigo Bunting

Sometime after hanging out with the Northern Harrier that dominated a previous post, a Turkey Vulture came to take up the slack…

Turkey Vulture

proving that even vultures can be beautiful.