A Visit to Goose Lake Prairie

On July 9, I went to Goose Lake Prairie for my annual summertime visit. There were not a lot of birds available for viewing, but enough of the usual suspects were present for the most part and I had a good time observing a few individuals.

Song Sparrow

It was hard to find a Dickcissel close enough to the trail until I had walked quite a ways and meandered farther. The bird in the middle photograph below is a female.

The wind sweeping over the prairie made it difficult to get clean recordings, but below is a sample of a Dickcissel song.

Dickcissel

I was stumped by this Meadowlark – and wondered if perhaps it was a Western instead of a more likely Eastern – but I remain stumped and have decided whatever it is, it is a juvenile. I took way too many photographs of it but none have clarified the identification.

I am always happy to see – and hear – Field Sparrows. Unfortunately the only recording I got was very faint and far away.

Field Sparrow

There were plenty of Song Sparrows…but I did not attempt to record any. There was always one singing somewhere.

I was a bit disappointed that the parking lot Killdeer refused to turn around.

This bedraggled looking bird must be a young Indigo Bunting.

Here are some more poses from the Indigo Bunting at the top of the post.

It was a bright, sunny, cloudless day.

There were turtles on the rock in the water by the Cragg Cabin.

A male Northern Cardinal stood out against this background.

There were a lot of Common Yellowthroats but they were quite far away when visible at all.

Common Yellowthroat

Red-winged Blackbirds were predictably present.

Somehow I got lucky with this Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

I would have liked to have at least heard a Sedge Wren, but instead there seemed to be plenty of House Wrens.

The Purple Loosestrife below stood out. Luckily there wasn’t a lot of it but still it’s considered invasive.

There was one Great Egret at the water by Cragg Cabin, but it took flight when I tried to walk by quietly.

I like the colors of this rather distant Cedar Waxwing.

I made it all the way back to the lake, as it were, but the vegetation made it impossible to see the water and when I entered the blind and looked through the dirty cloudy windows, I didn’t see anything in the water.

I will have to try visiting this place a bit more often than once a year. Tomorrow I am getting up very early to go all the way up to the other Goose Lake in McHenry County, where I think they have had more rain and it is a few degrees cooler. I hope to get a better look at the Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but whatever I see, it should be a beautiful morning. The abundance of summer continues.

Goose Lake Prairie: Happy Fourth

Field Sparrow

The forecast was for rain not starting until maybe 11:30 or so this morning, so it seemed like a good day to restart my lapsed tradition of visiting Goose Lake Prairie on the Fourth of July. It turned out to be a beautiful morning and the threat of rain never occurred. Even though I arrived later than I had planned, for quite a while I was the only human, which suited me just fine.

Song Sparrow, the first of many

Dragonflies were everywhere. I guess the one I’ll be seeing a lot of this year is the Blue Dasher. Last year it was the Halloween Pennant. Nice to see all of these this morning.

Blue Dasher (female)
Blue Dasher
Widow Skimmer Female
Common Whitetail (female)
Halloween Pennant
Dickcissel
Dickcissel

So I’m trying to write this blog post tonight with the explosions going off all around the neighborhood, frequently sounding like a bomb exploding next to my house. I hate this holiday. I don’t understand why I have to be miserable and endure this every year. Maybe it’s why I decided not to be born until after midnight 71 years ago – it was too scary to start living with all this going on.

Luckily it never seems to bother my birds, they just endure it, likely chalking it up to more stupid human noise. We have pretty music playing on the radio. What’s one or two or fifty explosions?

But I can’t imagine the outdoor birds are too fond of this. Oh well. Back to the blog post. This morning I got to see some nice birds. There are a lot of pictures in this post. Let’s just leave it at that.

Eastern Kingbird

There was one Brown Thrasher who barely showed its face and then hid from me as I tried to see the rest of it.

I hoped for a Henslow’s Sparrow and one complied. Their return to Illinois grasslands is one of the few success stories over recent years. If you provide habitat, they will come.

Henslow’s Sparrow

The Red-Winged Blackbirds weren’t bothering to sing, so the guys looked a little bored with their guard duty.

There were a lot of Common Yellowthroats and as secretive as they sometimes are, I managed to see a few.

I’m still on the verge of tears from the explosions. I guess tomorrow morning I can go around and see how many fireworks shells are in the yard. Something to look forward to. My indoor birds are ready to fall asleep. I keep praying for rain.