August at the Chicago Portage: Finale

Green Heron

Green Heron

I did not make it to the Chicago Portage this past weekend to check on the possibility of hummingbirds again. But maybe it’s still worth commenting on the remaining creatures I encountered on the 17th.

Juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird

Juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird

Juv RWBB Portage-8-17-2014-3822

It’s that confusing time of year again. Young birds are as big as their parents, but distinguishing them is sometimes difficult, especially in poor light. Often I take a picture I know will be lousy just to blow it up later, adjust the exposure and see if I can figure out what it was I was looking at. As it is, the “sparrowy” looking birds all turned out to be Song Sparrows (except for the Red-Winged Blackbirds). There were several Indigo Buntings too but due to poor light and whatever else they hid themselves within, they did not make the cut.

Juvenile Song Sparrow

Juvenile Song Sparrow

Now that you’ve seen both the juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird and the Song Sparrow, see if you can figure out what the bird is below. You could almost make a case for either one, I think.

What's this?

What’s this?

Then there are the group photos. The birds don’t always cooperate but sometimes the challenge of how many you can fit in the frame takes over.

European Starling Tree

European Starling Tree

Cedar Waxwing Tree

Cedar Waxwing Tree – too far away, really, but good enough for numbers.

Mourning Dove Tree

Mourning Dove Tree

There was a group congregating in the water too. A family of Wood Ducks getting ready to depart.

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks

Shorebird migration is in full force, but the Portage isn’t a hot spot. Still I had the two most likely suspects in attendance.

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Killdeer

Killdeer

I love the look of juvenile European Starlings. Until they turn mostly black, it’s possible to see they do have eyes.

Juvenile European Starling

Juvenile European Starling

Another black bird, but instead of a shiny navy blue head, this juvenile Common Grackle is a rich dark chocolate brown.

Juvenile Common Grackle

Juvenile Common Grackle

The Cedar Waxwing below strikes me as an adult, but chances are some of those in the Waxwing Tree above, if only we could see them, were youngsters.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Down by the second bridge was a very friendly Eastern Phoebe enjoying flying off his perch for insects,

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Now comes the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The bugs that I cannot identify. This beetle looked to me like it would be easy to find in my Big Beetle Book (not the title) but so far I have been unable to identify it. While I don’t think I’ve discovered a new species, I am beginning to understand this confusion is often the way it is with insects. Period.

Unidentified Beetle

Unidentified Beetle

The ladybug could be the most common native species, but I’m not going out on any limb.

I know this is a Ladybug, but what kind I don't know

I know this is a Ladybug, but what kind I don’t know

More birds–and bugs — pardon me, insects — to come.

A Change in the Weather

Fog 6-25-14-2013

The weather in Chicago is nothing if not interesting. We seem to be repeating some of the pattern established last summer: extremely hot weather followed by a cool spell, usually following some thunderstorm activity. Last week the effect of all this was one spectacularly foggy morning in the Loop.

Fog 6-25-14-2018-2On the Way In 6-25-14-2015

By the time I got to the Thompson Center, the pigeons were hanging out on the Jean Dubuffet sculpture which looks like it was made out of paper mache. It’s big enough you can walk inside it, between its “legs.”

Pigeons on the Dubuffet sculpture at the Thompson Center

Pigeons on the Dubuffet sculpture at the Thompson Center

Pigeon on the Dubuffet 6-25-14-2026The lack of green space takes its toll on me and the birds down here. I’m also not fond of crowds and so I tend to stay away from Millennium Park during the summer. But after spending a couple days working through lunch, it’s definitely better to go out and look at anything that doesn’t have to do with staring at a computer monitor. So I visited Lurie Garden one day with the macro lens.

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake Master

Bug on Flowers 6-19-14-1810

Probable Margined Soldier Beetle

I’ve just purchased the Audubon app to help identify bugs but I am hopeless when it comes to flowers. I get overwhelmed surfing through pictures. I’ll take any help I can get if you know what these are. The red one on the bottom completely stumps me. Is it some sort of Monarda? (Those of you who are flower experts are allowed to laugh at me.)

Flower 6-19-14-1798

Spiderwort – I think

Flower 6-19-14-1812

almost looks like a Blazing Star but I don’t think it is

Flower 6-17-14-1764

A female Northern Cardinal found me that day and she got lucky, I had peanuts just for her.

Cardinal 6-13-14-1676

Sometimes it seems appropriate to pay attention to a Rock Pigeon. They are beautiful, we just take them for granted. But I look at it this way: they confirm our existence. This is one species that would not be here (as much) without us.

Pigeon 6-24-14-2007

 

Summer Doldrums

Flower 6-22-14-1870Apologies are in order, I suppose. I have been a blogging laggard.

Grasshopper 6-22-14-1876

Two-Striped Grasshopper

Baby Grasshopper 6-22-14-1880

Baby Two-Striped Grasshopper

After struggling to manage a post all week I’m not doing any better this weekend. There seem to be too many other things that have to get done, and then that stuff that really gets in the way, like sleeping and eating.

Dragonfly 6-22-14-1955

Blue Dasher

So this is a little picture postcard from last Sunday at McGinnis (this Sunday has yet to be processed). Weekends have been hot and steamy. I suspect I move a little slower in the heat. Maybe my brain does too.

Meadowhawk or Skimmer 6-22-14-1862

Unidentified Meadowhawk

Butterfly 6-22-14-1942

Red-Spotted Purple

Moth 6-22-14-1913Meadowhawk 6-22-14-0276Dragonfly 6-22-14-1951Dragonfly 6-22-14-0268

With any luck I will add identities to some of these creatures tomorrow.

I hope to start making up for all of this over the holiday. Thanks for your patience!

Update 7-10-14: My friend Linda Padera who has been paying attention to butterflies and dragonflies a lot longer than I have weighed in on my butterfly ID and I have corrected it to Red-Spotted Purple. She said the clear-winged Meadowhawks are difficult to pin down but “Striped” was not an option in this part of the country so I have changed it to “Unidentified” after checking some sources on the Internet that have not helped me to determine whether it was a Ruby or White-Faced Meadowhawk, the two most likely choices. This is harder than birds!