Before I left for downtown two Sundays ago, there was a young rabbit outside my front door between me and my car. There was also a very nicely kept spider web attached to one of my front stair railings.
This will be brief, as was my last warbler flock experience.
My first lakefront park stop was the area north of Buckingham Fountain.
I saw more warblers than I was able to photograph. In all, there were maybe 8 species. Above, Cape May Warblers, below, American Redstart.
Also available, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch…
Palm Warblers (above) dominated the flock. Across from all the activity was a fenced-in garden area where this transforming Northern Cardinal was feasting on seeds.
Northern Cardinal through a fence
Then there is the warbler below. I struggled over this ID but now I’m thinking it is a Cape May too.
I made my way over to Millennium Park and went up the stairs to Lurie Garden. The only warbler I found is below. Since it resembles nothing else, even though the mask is barely visible, it must be a Kentucky Warbler. It remained low in the foliage and everything else about it said Kentucky Warbler to me.
Below, one more of my best subject – the Palm Warbler enjoying a worm.
There was no noticeable activity elsewhere that morning, and it’s been slow ever since. A strange, fitful migration season. But I am grateful for whatever birds I have seen and hope they are making safe trips to their winter homes.
Here are a few pictures taken at various times over the past few weeks, all in downtown Chicago…
I never manage to see enough of any one species to tire of them. Although Tennessee Warblers often appear abundant, they are not always easy to capture. For comparison with a species they resemble, I have an Orange-Crowned Warbler below.
There seemed to be fewer birds altogether this year, but I don’t know if it is due to loss of habitat, weather patterns, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or a combination of all three.
I frequently see Northern Waterthrushes on the ground, but less often perched in trees.
The day I saw the Kentucky Warbler, there were so few birds altogether at Lake Shore East Park I wasn’t even aware I had seen this rarity until I checked my photographs later. The bird kept ducking in and out of hydrangeas planted near the east end of the park and I was consumed with trying to stop it long enough for a picture.
First-year male American Redstarts seem to be born exhibitionists, on the other hand.
This Blackpoll was pretty cooperative too on the day I saw it.
And Common Yellowthroats, as difficult as they are to see on their breeding grounds…are frequent park visitors.
A Hermit Thrush reminding me It’s The Food, Stupid.
At 155 N. Wacker there haven’t been very many birds, but last week there was this sapsucker scaling a wall.
And a White-Crowned Sparrow popped out last week at a new spot on the river that looks promising for future visits.
Perhaps the strangest thing I saw this fall was a frog in the corner of one of these wrought-iron-encased planters on Randolph near Wacker. How it got there boggles the mind.
It’s time to say goodbye to the warblers until spring. But many more sparrows are likely to be showing up. I’m thankful for that because they tend to be easier to see! And at least I can always carry on a conversation with White-Throated Sparrows.
Seeing as how I’m not going to be schlepping the camera around for a little while, due to my temporary invalid-ity – and trying to take pictures of the indoor crowd is hopeless – it seems like a good time to revisit some unattached photos I’ve been storing here for no particular reason. Click on any of the pictures to see enlargements. I will spare you any commentary. Hope you enjoy the images.
Toward the end of the work week I had been thinking of only two things: sleeping in on Saturday to get my sleep for the year, and possibly visiting McGinnis Slough for birds on Sunday.
A Kentucky Warbler sings at Swallow Cliff Woods
As luck would have it, tales of a Kentucky Warbler and a Cerulean Warbler emerged on the IBET (Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts) list-serve toward the end of the week, and with the birds being seen at Swallow Cliff Woods, which is just up the street from McGinnis Slough, I decided to try for these two warblers that are unusual in this area. Warbler migration is pretty much over with anyway, so the chance to see these two special birds was irresistible.
Thanks to birders already on the scene I had no problem finding the two birds, and several mosquito bites later, I had pictures and recordings of their songs as well. The Cerulean was harder to photograph even when it dropped down to less than neck-breaking level, because the backlighting made it impossible to capture his delicate blueness.
Thanks to all the good-natured, generous birder souls who helped me get on these birds.
By the time I got to McGinnis Slough it was getting hot. I didn’t know what to expect this time of year, overlapping passerine migration and the presence of breeding birds. I didn’t have a scope with me, but there did not appear to be much action in the water anyway. The main action occurred overhead with Red-Winged Blackbirds chasing Red-Tailed Hawks. I managed to get a few pictures of one Red-Winged Blackbird catching a ride on the raptor. Have to wonder how that feels, to be a small bird riding on a predator of all things. The Red-Tail was not happy about it.
Red-Tailed Hawk chased by two Red-Winged Blackbirds
Click on the pictures to see larger images.
Shortly after the Red-Tailed Hawk/Red-Winged Blackbird saga, I ran into a friendly couple, Julie and Jim, and their new shelter puppy Annabelle whose mother was a Border Collie and the father was undetermined (but probably safe to assume it was not the mailman) – she’s a very pretty dog – and we had a very nice visit. I hope to encounter Julie and Jim again, and welcome them to my blog. There is definitely a magical quality to McGinnis and the nicest surprises happen when I least expect them.
There were other species besides these two at McGinnis but most were either distant or heard only. As the mid-day heat approached and weekend chores beckoned, I took a few shots at a Red-Winged Blackbird guarding his territory and headed back home.
In the next few days and weeks I hope to get caught up with all the travel pictures for inspiration.
But for now I will sing the Sunday-evening-gotta-go-to-work-tomorrow blues, succumb to general exhaustion and get ready for bed.
Thanks to all who follow this blog and check in every once in a while. I will try to be a better blogger (I get twinges of guilt every few days when I haven’t posted or managed to even read anybody else’s blog)…
Yesterday, after coming down early in the morning and hunting around for migrants in Grant Park before the temporary heat took hold, I decided to try a different route on my lunch break, which was pretty late in the afternoon. I went down the stairs to the Riverwalk, which yielded very little except for a Lincoln’s Sparrow. It was my third Lincoln’s of the day. I’ll revisit Lincoln in another post.
I passed an opening to an underpass that led to something park-like, so I decided to walk back to work that way. What I found was a little park adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel and some other buildings I don’t know, which I will have to map and give a name, if it doesn’t have one already, so I can use it as an ebird location (mission accomplished, see the end of this post). It confirms the common knowledge that this time of year is magical: you never know what you will find where.
I didn’t have much time left on my lunch, of course, when I spotted something warbler-like darting around in the lilies.
It wasn’t until I developed my pictures late last night after swimming…that I realized I recognized something about this bird. Actually it was the yellow spectacles in the top photo that finally triggered the correct response in my brain. Kentucky Warblers are rare up here and I had seen one only once before, last year on the trip to southern Illinois, after searching to find one even down there for a long time: they are skulkers.
To top off this Brief Warbler Interruption I would like to share a picture of a Common Yellowthroat, a more likely park species, who was also trying to evade my lens in the same location.
As an update: I found out the name of the park. It is officially The Park at Lakeshore East. I have added it to my ebird locations.
I have been in the southernmost part of my state the past few days and I may as well have been in another country. I had no Internet access but did not miss it. The pristine habitat of the Shawnee region is so remarkable, it is easy to slip into a sense of timelessness. And there is no limit to the discoveries one can make. Our stay was much too short.
There were birds everywhere.
Black and White Warbler
Great Crested Flycatcher
The most elusive birds periodically became cooperative.
This Prothonotary Warbler has staked out his territory in the wonderful Heron Pond portion of the Cache River Basin.
A boardwalk invites us into the thick of it all.
It was hard to leave.
We heard Kentucky Warblers everywhere we went, but did not see one until the morning of our departure.
This Kentucky serenaded us from his digs in Giant City.
Kentucky Warblers spend a lot of time furtively foraging on the ground which makes them hard to see, but this one was nice enough to fly up and perch just above our heads almost at eye level. What a beautiful bird.