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.
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.
I’d been thinking all week about where to go on Easter Sunday. My friends had been to various haunts all week while I was at work, and I was tempted by their destinations. While I had a general idea where these places were, I had never found some of them on my own before. It was fun to get out the maps Saturday night and plan my “trip.”
My main focus was bodies of water in the Palos area of the Cook County Forest Preserves, where Common Loons had been seen. I started out at Tampier Lake, which is positively sprawling. My first bird there was a Song Sparrow, doing what Song Sparrows do best.
Song Sparrow, Tampier Lake
There were a couple loons and dozens of other waterfowl, too distant to photograph, so after I got satisfying scoped views, I headed toward my next stop: Saganashkee Slough, where I was close enough to a Common Loon for the opening photo. Ring-Billed Gulls were everywhere; this one caught a fish.
Ring-Billed Gull, Saganashkee Slough
Saganashkee is a long, strung-out body of water that covers a large area. After I counted all the birds I could see, I headed to Maple Lake, a smaller, contained lake surrounded by woods. I saw two more Common Loons there and distant views of Redheads and Scaup. Mentally, I was taking notes for future visits to all these places.
I stopped at The Little Red Schoolhouse which has a nature center. Families were out in the cool but sunny weather. After walking part of a short trail, I found this Red-Headed Woodpecker near the parking lot.
Though he gave me many excellent poses when he was exposed on the open limb above, I like the way he looks best behind the few twigs below. The twig cover is probably when, and why, he let me get closer to him.
There were a couple Brown-Headed Cowbirds strutting their stuff too.
Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Little Red Schoolhouse
My last destination was a power company substation in northwest DuPage County where Monk Parakeets had taken up residence. We used to have a flock locally but I haven’t seen Monks for quite a while in my neighborhood. Time to see some green birds.
I didn’t find them immediately, so I took a walk into a small section of Churchill Woods that runs next to a nearby open space. Besides a Red-Tailed Hawk,
and a Turkey Vulture,
I had my first-of-year Eastern Phoebe.
The section of Churchill Woods below reminds me a little bit of the Portage.
The Red-Bellied Woodpecker below reminds me of the first time I ever saw one of them. The scarlet shade of red on its head is so distinctive.
Churchill Woods had its own number of Song Sparrows, this one foraging in dried stalks.
As I headed back toward my car, I heard the Monk Parakeets. They were flying into the trees along a dirt road that runs between the substation and the forest preserve. At first they came to taunt me, and then when I told them my friend had sent me, they flew in closer to check me out.
Monk Parakeet, DuPage County
Except for the guy behind me in a monster SUV–whose foot must have slipped off the brake pedal as we were waiting for the stop light to change, jolting my bumper (except for a little lost paint, car and driver are okay)–it was a pretty perfect day.