Big Marsh, Hegewisch Marsh and a Lifer

Least Bittern Big Marsh 07-30-17-6896

Least Bittern at Big Marsh

Last Sunday I joined Chicago Ornithological Society’s trip led by Walter Marcisz to a couple areas he knows so well, far south in the Cook County limits and to which I had never been. So tempting was this offering, there were an almost unmanageable 40 of us. But all went well, thanks to Walter’s skillful leadership.

The photograph above is of a Least Bittern which was a life bird for me. I wish I’d gotten a sharper image but we were all caught quite unawares standing around looking out when suddenly this bird decided it needed to go somewhere, so I consider myself lucky i got it at all. The rest of my shots of this bird have someone’s head in them so maybe that gives you an idea.

The parking lot where we met before taking off for the marshes not far away afforded these two captures below: a Double-Crested Cormorant on a light fixture and two Barn Swallows hanging out on the barbed wire.

The wildflower investigation continues. The plant below seemed to be everywhere at Big Marsh and I think there was some at Hegewisch too although by that time I was so tired of seeing it I may have been ignoring it. Someone identified it as Spotted Knapweed, so I looked it up on my wildflower app and sure enough, it is an invasive, with somewhat nasty properties. If handled a lot it can cause tumors on the hands. Yuck. Made one bee happy however.

Bee on the Invasive Plant Big Marsh 07-30-17-6934I grew tired of trying to figure out the one below but it’s pretty in its isolation. I believe it was at Hegewisch. I didn’t take many pictures at Hegewisch – we weren’t there long. We went to see the Common Gallinules – who used to be Common Moorhens – that have been breeding there this year. We caught glimpses but not much else behind the tall grasses.

Wildflowers Big Marsh 07-30-17-6958I was happy to see Northern Rough-winged Swallows as I have missed seeing them in my usual haunts this year.

More birds in flight. A Killdeer on the left, and a Great Egret on the right.

Always happy to see a Caspian Tern hunting in good view. This was also at Big Marsh where we spent the most time.

And Eastern Kingbirds still seemed to be everywhere.

HOFI Big Marsh 07-30-17-6946

Female House Finch, Big Marsh

As close in proximity as these areas are to the city, they are big enough to afford an unobstructed view of the sky which was gorgeous that day.

Cloudscape Big Marsh 07-30-17-6960One more swallow.

Northern RW Swallow Big Marsh 07-30-17-6950

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

Back very soon with a report from my yard as my wishes are slowly being fulfilled!

Field Sparrow Dreams

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

A short work week seems propelled by fitful spells of to-do lists, but cooler weather has made some efforts easier. This will be a short post as I was busy baking blueberry coffee cake scones for work tomorrow. Turning the oven on in July is not something I can normally get away with, but we have been in the sixties all day.

I did see some fireflies out in the yard at the tail end of dusk, all that more reassuring because the butterflies and bees have not been very visible.

On Sunday morning, my friend Lesa and I went to Pate Philip State Park, which was originally called Tri-County because it is right at the corners of Cook, Kane and DuPage Counties. There are still signs inside the park that refer to Tri-County, and ebird calls it Tri-County, so I will too. I have a hard time getting “Pate Philip” to the surface, I feel like my brain is stuttering.

Tri-County is another grassland habitat, which I seem to be gravitating toward lately. Maybe I need wider, opener spaces after being cooped up in the city all week. Anyway, the Field Sparrow pictured here was most cooperative, so much so I had to wonder if perhaps he recognized me from his possible stopover in the Loop.

Field Sparrow Tri-County IMG_4200_1

He was singing, and he seemed to be enjoying it. You can hear him in the clip below. His is the song that begins descending a chromatic scale slowly and then finishes off with an increasingly speedy trill.

Field Sparrow Tri-County IMG_4186_1