I started writing this post several days ago when it was cold and overcast, which was supposed to give me some extra time to get caught up on things. Between birding, swimming, planting, watering, playing piano and the general maintenance of the home crowd, not to mention sorting through photos every day which usually necessitates a nap or more coffee… I all but ran out of leftovers which means I need to do more cooking soon. The watering routine supplanted my kitchen energy, no pun intended.
We did get a little rain Sunday morning. It wasn’t all that much, but I accepted the gift as gratefully as possible and did not water the new plants. I went back to watering that evening, however. There have been too many forecasts of “possible” rain which didn’t sound too firm to me. More recently, yesterday, we had a very slow, steady, but somewhat soaking rain. I was surprised to find my rain barrel full.
So much for the weather. I took off for a few different locations the last week of May/first week in June and here is somewhat of a report. I went first to the Hebron Trail/Goose Lake Natural Area in McHenry County on May 28 to see some Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Below, a shot of the trail leading to the marshy area and an Indigo Bunting that was in one of those trees.
In the marsh, there are always other breeding birds I expect to see, like Willow Flycatchers.
Yellow Warblers are not too bashful there.
There were several Yellow-headed Blackbirds singing on their territories. They were just barely close enough to get in focus with a 400mm lens. I went back through my photos from previous years’ visits later and determined that the birds were easier to see closer to the observation deck and the trail in late June and mid-July, so I will be going back to try my luck again with these pretty fabulous birds. I should be able to see juveniles and some females in July. It was still worth the trip to see how many of them were on site, and to hear their songs fill the air.
At one point a Sandhill Crane flew over the marsh.
The water level is low, so there were not too many birds in it. I managed to find one Pied-billed Grebe.
I had a close encounter with a demonstrative Gray Catbird.
Hardly any American Robins in this habitat, but I caught one taking off from its perch.
It was nice to see a Black Swallowtail butterfly, even as it was trying to make do with Dames Rocket. I have seen this blooming in several locations this spring. It’s been years since I first noticed it in my yard and started accumulating a list of invasive species.
I have always seen little holes in the path, but this time it became apparent that are homes to Chipmunks.
Even though the Yellow-headed Blackbirds were so far away, I was compelled to attempt too many photos.
More of a challenge, although closer, was capturing a Marsh Wren.
I thought this pair of Mallards looked nice in flight.
My best subject turned out to be one of two Great-crested Flycatchers in the tree-lined section of the trail.
A few days later, I considered that I missed all the spring migration bird walks with Henry G., but I was curious about one location I had never been to. G.A.R. Woods turns out to be an area south of Thatcher Woods in River Forest. I went there on May 31. It was one of those rather chilly mornings but there was some good woodsy habitat. All the spots where water accumulates were bone dry, but I could imagine them in wetter times. I was a day or two late for most of the migrants Henry reported but was content to see and hear an Acadian Flycatcher which oddly enough had not been on his list.
Before the inundation of Prairie Warbler photos, a word or two about a few other birds I saw at McGinty Slough. Field Sparrows were numerous and easy to see.
There was also a Brown Thrasher at some distance.
And a very nice-looking Eastern Kingbird too.
But the Prairie Warbler was the highlight.
So now that we’ve become all too familiar with the Prairie Warbler…I’ve been so busy I could almost use a vacation from retirement. It’s often hard not to just curl up and take a nap. But I have seen and photographed even more beautiful birds lately, so I will try once more to be back sooner to this page.