More Warblers and Others

This is the last of the fallout warblers from Tuesday morning but I have added a few more to my migration sightings, so I will have to round those up next. I suspect that after feasting most if not all the warblers I encountered on Tuesday resumed their journey to their breeding grounds, with no interruption from the weather to slow them down. And some of the Yellow Warblers will be staying.

There were only a few Black-throated Green Warblers.

Warbling Vireos are abundant but will not be so easy to see once the leaves take over.

The White-breasted Nuthatches have been noticeably quiet, so I can’t count them until I see them.

There was still enough water left in the fluddle for the two Solitary Sandpipers that were hanging out,

Scarlet Tanagers are always noticeable. I have seen them several times this season so I will be back with more captures.

Remember Palm Warblers? I think they are probably all gone but there were still several on Tuesday.

A few more of the last Palm Warblers…

Here’s the female Blackpoll Warbler that Vera identified after it snuck in with the Palms. Thanks, Vera!

A warbler I don’t see very often, a Northern Waterthrush, is a likely bird around the river.

Below is the last Pine Warbler I saw. They were earlier than other species but now are considered late. According to my Sibley app this is a likely first-year female.

Gray Catbirds have been very easy to see this spring. They’ve been quite vocal too.

Finally there’s food for flycatchers.

Eastern Phoebe

There were two Eastern Kingbirds sallying for prey from high perches over the river that day.

It was nice to see a couple Cedar Waxwings. While I once say them kiting for insects in large numbers, more likely I will see them congregating in fruiting trees later.

I’m always up for a Blue Jay if it’s sitting still.

I will be back with more warblers and other species as spring migration continues. In a way I am thankful things have slowed down a bit.

Miller Meadows Hawk Fest

Way back on September 7 when I had just begun my new retirement protocol of birding every morning there was good weather, I decided to visit Miller Meadows which is directly across from the health club where I swim, with the idea that I could then go swimming afterwards. I had seen hawks flying on occasion from the health club parking lot, so I should not have been surprised by the number of hawks I saw that morning. It started off with an American Kestrel backlit in poor light. I don’t get to see Kestrels too often so I was happy to take some far-away pictures anyway.

Perhaps what I wasn’t prepared for was the degraded landscape. Invasive teasel has overtaken much of the meadow.

There were a few Palm Warblers trying to make something out of nothing. They were also the first I had seen this fall.

Hawks apparently found the landscape attractive for hunting. I saw several Red-tailed Hawks kiting over the open field, and was fascinated to observe this behavior. There was a Northern Harrier as well. The harrier photos are directly below, and all the rest are various Red-tailed Hawks. How I managed to capture enough detail at considerable distance still surprises me, but also encourages me to continue what otherwise sometimes seems a fruitless endeavor. These are all closely cropped, but if you click on the photos it’s kind of nice to see how the Red-tailed Hawks navigate the air.

The Northern Harrier is below.

i did see an Eastern Kingbird…closer to the ground!

A view of the paved path with phragmites, another invasive species, on the left.

I always try to appreciate at least one American Robin.

Back down on the ground in early September there were still butterflies.

And some interesting beetles… I found my Beetles book but I got even more confused trying to identify them so they will remain nameless – unless you can tell me who they are.

I will continue poring through the last two or three months’ outings for photographs as we are having some more of the rain we didn’t get in the spring. Cloudy, drizzly weather has its advantages, I guess. The disadvantage is lots of mud in the backyard…

Spring Slowly Unfolds

The weekend before last was warm – but very windy. I went up to the Hebron Trail/Goose Lake Natural Area anyway to see if I could find any Yellow-Headed Blackbirds. I did eventually see them as tiny little yellow-headed black dots far away. It was almost too windy to see any birds well at all.

Farm buildings adjacent to the trail…
The view going…

Where there was a break in the trees, I was surprised to see this one Eastern Kingbird sitting quietly for me to take its picture. I had to think a bit about its identification at such close range!

There were several Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers but they were hard to see.

I don’t know why I make a fuss about Brown-Headed Cowbirds but I still think the males are beautiful.

I had heard Indigo Buntings the day before at the Portage but this was the first one I saw. The closer photographs below are from last year. I will likely get more opportunities this year after the birds establish their territories and start defending them.

Red-winged Blackbirds are easy to see at this location, even on a windy day.

Although it was a hard day for warblers, it was still warm enough for bugs and worms, and I managed to see this Nashville Warbler.

On the trail, coming and going, I saw a Brown Thrasher.

After I had exhausted my patience with the Yellow-headed Blackbirds heard but not seen from the observation deck, I walked a few feet past and stood – only to see a Sandhill Crane take to the air a few yards away. There is nothing quite like seeing a bird with a 77″ wingspan coming toward you.

A few more views…

I was surprised to see a Gray Catbird sitting and calmly looking at me. They are usually quite secretive.

Playing the hiding game was a Yellow Warbler.

Even Song Sparrows were laying low…

A little more Sandhill Crane action…

One more warbler – a Palm Warbler…

Canada Geese are easily dismissed, but they are still striking looking birds.

We are not on the Brood X Cicada a/k/a 17-year locust map this year, but here is a cooperative Cicada from last summer. It hitched a ride into my post with the Indigo Bunting photos.

I have as many more photographs to share as I have other obligations preventing me from doing so. I hope the space between posts will narrow a bit in the not-too-distant future. Hope for the promise of spring.

Summer at the Portage

A couple lazy uneventful Saturdays at the Portage the first two weekends yielded a few photographs and a little singing to go along with it.

Below is the last time I saw an Eastern Bluebird. I barely saw it – it was in the darkness of the trees as I first walked in and I had no idea what it was until I adjusted the exposure and cropped the photograph. I will likely never know if the two bluebirds stayed and raised a family. But it was still nice to realize maybe they were still around two weeks ago.

Then I got lucky and saw a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, just like the one that visits my feeders.

This was the last hurrah for Indigo Buntings too. They are still present but not as visible. This one had a distinctive song.

Here’s a little recording of this Indigo Bunting’s song

Below is a female Indigo Bunting with an insect prize.

Two photographer acquaintances I run into frequently, Steve and Mike, were taking photographs of the juvenile Wood Duck below. Another mystery. I had seen a couple Wood Ducks early in the season but I have no idea whether they nested. I can’t imagine with the water levels so low what they would have done with their ducklings once they fledged (if you can call falling out of a tree nest onto the ground fledging).

There are still Robins around although not so many. Most I am seeing are juveniles like the ones below.

Goldfinches are abundant now. They never really disappeared but because their breeding season starts later, they tend to re-emerge later.

A few miscellaneous photos from the summertime abundance. Blue Vervain and Common Chicory are the flowers.I cannot resist photographing the shelf fungus. The dragonfly is a female Common Whitetail, there’s a Paper Wasp, and the butterflies are Painted Lady and Delaware Skipper all the way down at the bottom of this group. The Skipper is a tiny butterfly.

I took note of this House Sparrow because I rarely see them here.
A reminder that August is spider web time.

The management of the water levels at this place continues to frustrate me. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that it is a low-lying area close to the Des Plaines River, and all this has less to do with beavers than predictions of future flooding due to climate change. It’s hard not to feel as if the wild places, such as they are, that we have left will soon be managed out of existence. But I will continue to visit and try to look for silver linings to these clouds.

A desolate-looking segment on a hot, dry day.

A few birds in flight, above – a Robin at the top and a Red-Winged Blackbird at the bottom right.

I was surprised to see this Eastern Kingbird with its insect prey, as I have only seen a pair of Kingbirds once or twice all season. This seems to indicate they stayed.
A singular Cedar Waxwing
This is how the statue appeared on the 8th of August. I have not heard of any plans to remove it, as seems to be prevalent in the current environment. So much about the place has changed already, though, nothing would surprise me.

A few more photos from those two Saturdays, the 1st and the 8th. The birds were busy but not so visible.

It’s hard to believe that we are now looking toward the end of August and fall migration has already begun for some species. Sometimes this year seems interminably long, but the weeks are catching up with me. I will try to be back soon with more summer observations before the next phase.

Return to The Other Goose Lake

The 4th of July always reminds me to make my annual visit to Goose Lake National Prairie. I am not exactly sure why I don’t visit at other times of the year, and maybe I will decide to visit more often if I ever retire, but I like to go at this time because it’s not crowded, the prairie is beautiful and in bloom, and I can usually count on seeing Dickcissels and Henslow’s Sparrows.

As it turns out, this year it was particularly “not crowded” – I was the only human the entire length of my visit. I went on July 3rd instead of the 4th. It was already hot and sunny at 7:40 a.m. when I got out of my car and saw Killdeer in the parking lot.

As I started to walk the trail that goes out from the back of the Visitor’s Center, I was welcomed by a few Barn Swallows, one of which was having fun swooping close to my head. Perhaps it was trying to startle me, because it was pretty persistent, but I am quite used to birds flying around my head! My challenge was to try to capture the bird in flight. When I used to go down to the lakefront in the summertime on my lunch hour, there were swallows swooping around constantly close to people, but people were everywhere and pretty unavoidable. On this occasion, the handful of Barn Swallows outnumbered me.

As for “target” birds, I saw only one Dickcissel and it was quite far away. I didn’t hear any more of them, either. I neither heard nor saw any Henslow’s Sparrows. I heard a lot of Marsh Wrens but could not see one.