Black Mulberries and Odonata

EUST Berries Portage 08-05-17-7181

Juvenile European Starling in the Black Mulberry Tree

I went back to the Chicago Portage last Saturday and figured out the three big trees with berries. After seeing the berries in my photos, they looked like mulberries to me. Sure enough, the trees are Black Mulberry, which can get up to 50 feet high, and at the Portage over the long period of time, they look like they have.

My history with mulberries is brief, but years ago one tree made an impression on me. There was a White Mulberry (Chinese) in my yard when I first moved in, and I quickly tired of the Starlings leaving a berry mess all over the place, not to mention the fact that you can never entirely get rid of mulberry trees, so I had the tree removed but I have to remain constantly vigilant, cutting down shoots here and there, if I can’t dig them up. More pictures of a Black Mulberry Tree below.

Maybe it was too early in the day for butterflies as there were absolutely none, but there were dragonflies and damselflies.

Female 12-Spotted Skimmer Dragonfly Portage 08-05-17-7259

Female 12-Spotted Skimmer

Common Whitetail Portage 08-05-17-7320

Common Whitetail

Poss Female Powdered Dancer Portage 08-05-17-7315

possible Female Powdered Dancer

Eastern Forktail Portage 08-05-17-7312

Eastern Forktail

Blue-Ringed Dancer Portage 08-05-17-7298

Blue-Ringed Dancer

Predictably, many of the birds were juveniles, like the Red-Winged Blackbirds below.

And most of the birds were quite far away. For the record, a Cedar Waxwing and a Northern Flicker.

The Mourning Doves below were at first a bit closer but didn’t wait for my shot (left) and then were cautiously distant (right).

It was nice to see an Osprey fly over, for a change.

Osprey Portage 08-05-17-7268

And a flying cigar (Chimney Swift).

CHSW Portage 08-05-17-7206

And quite unexpectedly for both of us, a young buck White-tailed Deer on the trail ahead of me.

Young Buck Portage 08-05-17-7439Wildflowers still captured my attention.

Wildflower Portage 08-05-17-7040In particular I was glad to see the Jewelweed (impatiens capensis, Spotted Touch-Me-Not) starting up again. I’ve been seeing a couple hummingbirds at the Portage the last few weeks but not close. There’s always the possibility Jewelweed will attract them when it’s in full bloom.

Jewelweed Portage 08-05-17-7229


And sure enough, Burdock and Pokeweed are on the chopping block.

Burdock and Pokeweed Pulled Up Portage 08-05-17-7223More unfinished Starlings below…

And Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and a Baltimore Oriole.

BAOR Portage 08-05-17-7351

House Wren and Gray Catbird… Indigo Buntings abound.

INBU Portage 08-05-17-7422

Female Indigo Bunting

INBU Portage 08-05-17-7056

Juvenile Male Indigo Bunting

AMRO Berries Portage 08-05-17-7174

American Robin in the Black Muberry

This coming Sunday, my flutist friend Linda and I are playing flute-and-piano music for the service at the Second Unitarian Church in Chicago. Not sure I will be able to venture out again this Saturday morning. I slept in last Sunday…

Portage Portraits

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Knowing the Jewelweed is blooming was enough to get me up early on Sunday to visit the Chicago Portage. In years past, I have been there and seen perhaps a hundred Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, all feasting on the Jewelweed.



Outside of hummingbirds, I had no expectations for this time of year. There could have been a shorebird or two. Perhaps the Green Herons had not yet left. I had no idea what I might find, but it’s so easy for me to go to the Portage just for the sake of its familiarity and it takes so little time to get there, all the associations of past visits guide me through the trails as I compare the experience to the last time I was there.

RT Hawk2 1I2A1531

I was certainly surprised to see this Red-Tailed Hawk out in the open, observing her domain from the branches of a tree that extend over the creek. I took these pictures from the bridge where I stood in awe of her presence. She flew farther away at first, but eventually came back to pose for the picture at the beginning of this post.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

Then I saw and heard a Baltimore Oriole, and the next thing I knew, he was facing off with yet another male. A snippet of his song is below.

A moment later I did see a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, but it was the only one.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

And the Green Herons were both still present, though pretty far away.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Later as I was walking back I heard what sounded like an almost-cardinal, and sure enough it was just that. The scruffy little creature below is a Northern Cardinal-To-Be.

Juvenile Cardinal

Juvenile Cardinal

This bee was one of many enjoying themselves.

Bee on what flower 1I2A1717

And perhaps only a Cabbage White could love another invasive species, the flowering Burdock it was on.

Cabbage White on the Burdock 1I2A1794

Mr. and Mrs. Wood Duck were present, but their offspring were either well hidden or well on their way to new digs.

Female Wood Duck

Female Wood Duck

Male Wood Duck

Male Wood Duck


Click on any picture for a larger view.Chicago Portage 8-25-13 1I2A1522

I’ll be getting up early again this weekend, and maybe next time the hummers will have caught up to the Jewelweed Feast. The path always awaits.

Chicago Portage

Chicago Portage