Riverside Walks

I hadn’t walked around Riverside for a while so I took a walk Monday while it was still comfortable to be outside. There were lots of Canada Geese and only a few Mallards but I was happy to see the hen below with her two ducklings. I admit I cropped dad out of the picture.

It was also nice to see herons on the water. There were two Great Egrets but they were quite distant, so I photographed only one. I also saw one Great Blue Heron. The water level is so low they are standing in the middle of the river.

I was reminded of the storm the week before, both by the paved walk and later on the Riverside Lawn trail where I had to negotiate three downed trees.

I love the spotty plumage on young American Robins like the one below.

The damselfly treat of the day was a Blue-fronted Dancer.

I often see Common Grackles in the rocks by the river. This is a female.

Almost two weeks earlier, on June 8, I visited Riverside and the first bird I saw was a Cliff Swallow sitting on the wire for quite a while. I don’t see this species very often.

It was a cloudy day. and it was much cooler as well. Again, a Common Grackle caught my eye, this time, a male.

It seemed unusual to see a feral Rock Pigeon on the riverbank.

Canada Geese were in the river. Nothing unusual about that.

There was this little family taking a walk.

I struggled to see and photograph Killdeer that day. They blend in well with the rocks by the former Hoffman Dam.

Here are the first photos I took, literally just pointing the camera in the direction I was hearing the Killdeer.

At some point there was a Turkey Vulture being chased by a Red-winged Blackbird. I love to see the vultures in flight, they are so graceful. A series of several photos is below.

I managed to capture a Baltimore Oriole that day. The photo opportunities have decreased since nesting season has taken over everything.

Here’s one more of the Cliff Swallow.

There were a number of Variable Dancers on the Riverside Lawn trail. They are very tiny,

Summer is official now and hot weather is baked in, so to speak. I have a busy agenda this week and heading into July with the possibility of a house guest for a couple weeks, so my posts may be a little scattered or scatterbrained, but after all it is summertime. Hope you are enjoying the longer days and staying cool enough, wherever you are.

Three Visits to Columbus Park

Two weeks after the last formal walk at Columbus Park on May 14, I joined the two Eds from those walks to see what was up after it seemed all the warblers were gone. Suffice it to say that the water birds made up for the lack of passerine diversity. In spite of an event going on at the park, two Great Blue Herons and two Black-crowned Night Herons tolerated all the noise and our attention and gave us some great looks.

There’s invariably a Great Blue Heron here but I’ve never seen one up in a tree like the one in the series below.

These photos are from April 16, May 14 and May 28 so the vegetation keeps changing.

On April 16 we were lucky to see an early Northern Parula.

Although I saw this species on a few other occasions these were the best looks I had all spring.

Also in the old reeds left over from last year was an American Tree Sparrow.

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow posed over the water

There was one little Field Sparrow back on the April visit.

There’s usually at least a pair of Wood Ducks but they don’t always offer such great photo opportunities.

Below from the last visit, a Wood Duck hen with six ducklings.

Once the Red-winged Blackbirds show up, they stay for the summer.

On the last visit there were some more grown up goslings than an on earlier visit.

Back in April, two Double-crested Cormorants swimming together.

The Black-crowned Night Herons are sometimes so well camouflaged.

Back in April I followed this Great Blue Heron in flight.

On May 14, there was a visible Red-eyed Vireo.

And on the last visit two weeks later, a Warbling Vireo made itself known.

Here’s an earlier photo of a Great Blue Heron.

The Black-crowned Night Herons are simply photogenic.

But I’ll let the Wood Duck have the last word.

A rainy forecast for today gave me the time to sit here and put this together. I’ll be back out on the trail tomorrow morning. There will likely be more photographs of dragonflies coming, like the female Eastern Forktail Damselfly below – if that is indeed what this is. I noticed it at Columbus Park on the last visit.

That Spring Feeling

Yesterday morning was beautiful with clear skies and the promise of warm temperatures. I decided to visit Riverside because I wondered if perhaps I would see a returning Osprey or Great Egret as both as had reported in the Palos area. I did not see either of these yet, but there was a Great Blue Heron on the river.

The Des Plaines River from the Riverside Library grounds

The walk started out slow and uneventful. I found a Song Sparrow busier foraging instead of singing although I heard one earlier when I was on the other side of the river. I inadvertently flushed this individual when I advanced along the trail at Riverside Lawn.

There was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, and later a pair of Common Mergansers as well.

Dark-eyed Juncos are still around.

One Downy Woodpecker was available for a peek.

Although the landscape is still brown, there was a little moss and lichen color by the paved walk.

The most interesting part of my walk came at the end when I returned to my car parked by the Hofmann Dam and saw a Great Blue Heron farther up river. Some time after I got over to the Hofmann Tower, it started to walk across the river to the other side. I was at quite a distance, but the heron might have taken my presence and interest in it as further incentive to move. I try to be careful and keep this in mind, but it seems nearly unavoidable.

While I kept an eye on the heron, other birds caught my attention. A posing American Robin sat for me, and a flurry of Red-winged Blackbirds were likely beginning to pair up. The singing male was clinging to the phragmites stalk he sat on through a lot of gusty wind. I liked the way the group of Canada Geese in the river blended in with the rocks.

A Common Grackle flew by.

Then the Great Blue decided to try a different location altogether and flew downstream. I managed to capture its departure.

I will continue to monitor the presence of herons. I wonder if the same Great Blue and Great Egret that presided over the shallower rocky area where the geese were sitting will return to that spot. In the interim, here’s an extra of a female Red-winged Blackbird.

It was also time for a Red-tailed Hawk to fly over nearby.

Looking back to when the Common Mergansers were sitting on the ice… I am quite sure we are done with ice on the river now and I promise not to reminisce any further.

Although I heard a Belted Kingfisher the other day, I haven’t seen one here since December 30 when I managed these two photos.

We now have three days of gloom with wind and rain in the forecast. Every time I think about going out today I decide not to, even though today probably would have ranked as a good day a month or two ago.

Yesterday afternoon was quite pleasant for digging up Lesser Celandine in the backyard before it completely takes over. This is a futile pursuit, but I feel like I must take a stand anyway. I almost wish I could do a controlled burn. In any event, I heard Sandhill Cranes overhead although I could not see them. I was out even long enough for the yard birds to tolerate my presence somewhat but with muddy gloves on I did not engage in trying for any photo opportunities.

I am just content at this point to be slowly but surely adjusting to the disruption of the time change. Since I have to get up and feed the birds every morning, I am consigned to waking up in the dark and preparing the bird breakfasts long before sunrise. I have to keep working on it because next month with walks starting at 7:00 AM, even though the daylight will have increased in the morning, I will have to get up even earlier so I can leave the house by 6:30. Luckily those planned walks are only once a week. The reward will be the welcome sights of migrating birds.

End of September: Grackles! Osprey…

After a summer of hardly seeing any Common Grackles, on September 29th of last year I probably saw at least 100. The other Bird of the Day was Osprey. I am looking forward to seeing Osprey on the Des Plaines River this year, along with all the other regular big birds – Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Double-Crested Cormorants…

Dry conditions last summer and fall

A frequent visitor to the Des Plaines River was an Osprey or two. I tried to capture the juvenile bird below going after something.

The Common Grackles were perched in the trees along the river, but later on my way back through Indian Gardens they were all over the lawn with Red-winged Blackbirds. It’s likely they were gathering for migration southward. I never really get over those shiny blue heads.

Here’s an adult Osprey I managed to capture flying over the river.

I will always see Rock Pigeons at this location, which attests to its urbanity.

I think this is a juvenile Song Sparrow trying very hard to look like a female House Sparrow…

There was still one Double-crested Cormorant around on that day.

A Mallard hen in the bright sunshine…

I look forward to the Great Blue Herons that will adorn the river this coming spring and summer. I suspect the Great Egrets had just left by this date, but I expect there will likely be quite a number of them too this summer.

Never to be turned down, no matter how bad the light – a cooperative Blue Jay.

I frequently heard Killdeer and sometimes saw them, got lucky with this one flying overhead.

Also never ignored by me, an American Crow flying. There is nothing like a Crow. Period.

Thanks for stopping by and helping me clean up some space on my hard drive. Larger posts are likely ahead with spring migration just around the…corner. As I start to post more often the hard drive glut will be less of an issue, or so I tell myself.

As the weather improves and I go out more, there will be fewer of these retrospective posts. In the meantime it’s nice to dream of the excitement seeing these birds again.

Going Back a Bit

I have been out locally the past two weeks and there is much to post about, but I thought it might be time to take a historical break. These pictures are all from October 19th at the Portage. Only a little over a month ago, there was still more color among the birds than the leaves. I spent a lot of time with this Nashville Warbler.

Perhaps in the instance below the leaves outshone the bird – a pretty drab-looking American Goldfinch.

The other late fall warblers were on hand. Below is a Yellow-rumped Warbler.