Limpkin, O Limpkin

For the record, I drove to Fullersburg Monday morning with the intent of looking One More Time for the Limpkin. After parking, I opened the hatchback of my car and found my backpack in its usual spot, but No Camera. This was the second or third time in the past week I have forgotten something and gone back for it. I have gone so far as to put a post-it on the front door to remind me of things I might be taking with me, but what good was it if I didn’t look at it?

When I returned the second time with the camera, it was already 10:10. I took the long way along the Riverbend Trail to the Rainbow Bridge where the Limpkin has been seen so often. That was a bit of extra walking. When I reached the famous bridge, no one else was there. I scanned the riverbanks and saw no Limpkin.

I started to walk a little dirt footpath that runs along the river on the other side of the bridge and much to my surprise, I saw something with white spots sitting in the tangle of branches that were as brown as the rest of it was. I had found the Limpkin. This was not how I wanted to see the bird, but after two unsuccessful visits, I had to stick around for a little while.

I began by talking softly to it (why do we do these things?) apologizing for my presence, but taking photos. You can see the second photo where the bird closed its eye as if to say “if I stop looking at you, will you disappear?” When I didn’t disappear, it was patient after that for the most part and endured my taking photos. I couldn’t find a spot that was a little farther away to capture the entire bird, so I finally decided to go back out onto the bridge to see if I could find it in the tangle from that perspective and maybe see if it would come out and do something.

When I relocated the Limpkin from the bridge and started taking photos, I realized it was only because I knew where it had to be that I was finding it because it was pretty well hidden. This is in contrast to others who have seen it and posted photos where the bird is out in the open, capturing mussels and snails and eating them. You’ll have to use your imagination about that, or else go lookup Fullersburg Woods on ebird and check their pictures.

Shortly after I found the Limpkin and started trying to get some photos, two men, and then a third, came onto the bridge. I told them where the Limpkin was, and we exchanged stories for a short time. It turns out that it was my third attempt and also one of the others’ third attempts, so we had that in common.

The Limpkin was not interested in coming out from its hiding place.

I don’t think the Limpkin was too happy with me pointing it out to other people. It finally managed to disappear into the thickness of the branches. I will not go back again to find this bird. I was content with reporting it once with photos so that everyone would know it was still there. I guess it will just boil down to enough birders keeping track of its occurrence until it leaves. I think a lot of people assumed it might start leaving because of the drop in temperature. But it hadn’t become cold enough to freeze the water yet, and for as long as this bird has been around, there may be no incentive to leave as long as it is feeding well.

It wasn’t feeding while I was there. I got the impression that it had done its foraging and feeding earlier and was taking a well-deserved rest.

A few brief captures of other birds seen that day. There weren’t many at all and the cloud cover made it even less interesting.

Looking back briefly on the two previous visits to Fullersburg, on 11-17, all I photographed was fungus.

On 11-15, there was a young Red-tailed Hawk.

For what it’s worth, it was good to reacquaint myself with Fullersburg Woods. I also got to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, and that was very special. I likely won’t be going back soon, though. The temperatures are dropping into the freezing zone and snow is in the forecast for Sunday. I hope the Limpkin finds a more southerly location soon. As of this writing, a lot of people saw it today.

There are a lot of other places I haven’t been in a while and maybe I should just start checking them out every now and then.

View looking upstream from the Rainbow Bridge

To those of you who are celebrating, best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. People who have been asking me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving seemed delighted when I told them I am staying home with my 40 birds. I must admit we are having a beautiful day. I went out earlier to the Chicago Portage and it was quiet, but not entirely without birds. I’ve been cooking this afternoon, so the kitchen is warm. The sun is shining and that always makes the birds especially happy. I’ll be back soon.

Backyard Fallout

Last Thursday morning was cloudy, rainy, and much cooler than the weather we had been experiencing. The rain came in with a cold front on Wednesday night and a lot of migrating birds came with it. I had no plans to go birding anywhere. But the rain seemed to be letting up a bit. I was in the middle of my breakfast routine with the indoor crowd, standing over the kitchen sink when I looked out the window into the garden and thought I saw something unusual. I picked up the binoculars. It was a male Common Yellowthroat.

It looked like there might be other fall migrant visitors in the yard, so I went out with the camera when the rain was down to a drizzle.

I was hanging around the back of my lot when the Common Yellowthroats popped in and out of the Hawthorn tree. I only saw the male (above) briefly but the female (below) gave me some nice looks.

There were a couple Gray Catbirds enjoying the pokeberries. I am now glad I let them grow.

Also attracted to the pokeberries were thrushes.

Not a migrant, but a sometimes infrequent visitor, I was happy to get some nice views of a male House Finch.

I have had White-throated Sparrows in the yard for about two weeks, but I don’t always see them. It was nice to catch this one in the Scotch Pine.

I was quite surprised to find a Northern Waterthrush in the yard.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were not so hard to find. There were at least four individuals. The second photo below of the bird flying away was taken in the front yard by the sidewalk.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were posing in the Hawthorn which now has berries that look ripe to me but they must not be ready yet for consumption.

Another surprise in the Scotch Pine – an Ovenbird, albeit obscured.

And I did manage to catch one Palm Warbler on the fence.

House Sparrows are always present. This one was perhaps curious to see me out there with the camera.

It was cloudy but not raining, so I decided to visit McGinnis Slough, where a vagrant Limpkin was being reported. This is a southern wader, usually seen in Central and South America. There is a population in Florida. I have seen it where it belongs. But this bird does not migrate. So it’s likely a hurricane blew this bird away from its normal habitat.

McGinnis Sllough

The first birds I saw were European Starlings.

There were the usual suspects.

Blue Jay
Great Blue Heron

I was treated to some nice looks of a couple shorebirds. Below are Lesser Yellowlegs.

And there was one Solitary Sandpiper.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were here too.

And a few Palm Warblers.

A Red-winged Blackbird or two. Okay, it’s the same bird, but I’m having a hard time removing one of the images now for some unknown reason…

And a Tennessee Warbler.

Shortly before I left, a Northern Harrier flew over.

But I did not see the Limpkin anywhere. It’s a distinctive-looking, rather large bird and would be hard to miss. What I was missing, however, were the location comments that I had ignored from the rare bird listing.

Sunday morning was also cloudy. I went to the Chicago Portage, but then decided to find the bridge on Southwest Highway that offers another view of McGinnis Slough that I have never seen. Given the difficulty seeing anything on foot over the towering growth in the regular preserve location, this is a good place to check. Finding the access to the bridge and a place to park was almost more of an accomplishment than seeing the Limpkin. It was easily visible from the bridge. It was also a bit far away, but that’s what my 400mm lens is for.

Here are a slightly few closer views.

I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long: it’s been a busy week. But now we are heading into a forecast of rain for several days so maybe I can get caught up with my other ideas for posts about this fall migration season. For now, I am off to choire rehearsal.