Yesterday’s last walk at Thatcher Woods began very cool and cloudy. We saw several birds but not all that well. And then by the time we reached the open meadow, the sun had emerged from the clouds and it was easier to see whatever birds came to the edge. The best part of the walk was perhaps the very end when first one very dark Merlin flew right over us and then another flew in and perched atop a dead tree. I kept expecting it to leave, but it didn’t, so I took way, way too many photographs of it as it changed its viewpoint.
This post is a celebration of a few more or less unusual birds that appeared yesterday and on September 1 when I participated in another walk led by Henry Griffin. On that day, the grand finale bird, if you will, was a Black-billed Cuckoo.
That day also started off with a bang when we spotted a distant Red-headed Woodpecker.
And September 1 was also a good day for flycatchers.
And a Least Flycatcher.
And just now reviewing the photos I think I found an Olive-sided Flycatcher. I’m not sure we reported it. But Merlin – the app, not the bird – seems to agree with my identification.
One more bird from that day was a Gray-cheeked Thrush.
And from yesterday, I barely captured this Hermit Thrush, even though it behaved exactly like all Hermit Thrushes I have ever met by sitting for quite a while staring right at me.
Another surprise bird at the end of our walk yesterday turned out to be a juvenile Purple Finch. Perched pretty far away, the photo doesn’t do it justice.
One more bird from the September walk.
So that leaves me with more images of the Merlin. I so rarely see these birds, I couldn’t help myself.
Today is sunny and crisp, but I was singing in the choir this morning, so I won’t be going out for a walk until tomorrow. However, there is much to do outside in my backyard. I think I will go out and disperse more bucketsful of dirt and wood shavings. We’ve warmed up a bit, but I am already embracing the inevitability of hot cocoa.
After last Sunday’s chilly, gloomy rain, I had my eye on Tuesday morning and notified the work team that I was taking it off. Tuesday came, starting out cool but sunny, and I went to the Portage to see if any warblers I barely glimpsed at on Sunday were there for a better view.
The green-up is in progress and the treetops are full of tiny bugs and worms we can’t see, but the birds know where to look for them.
After hearing and then eventually seeing a couple Chestnut-sided Warblers, I was lucky enough to have an intimate moment with this individual. We exchanged thoughts about spring and sunshine.
I always hear five or more House Wrens, but rarely see them. Tuesday morning was a special day, though, because it seemed like all these guys were out and showing off. The very last photograph below shows one going into his nest.
Another very vocal group rarely seen are the Warbling Vireos. I followed this one around with the camera.
There were still a couple Ruby-Crowned Kinglets here and there. Only now, like the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, when you’re looking for warblers, these birds become “distractors,” to quote one of my favorite guides, Mitch Lysinger.
Even Blue Jays seem to be more visible. I’ve had one in my yard all week, too, although he leaves the minute he sees me.
On this beautiful morning I was delighted to find one of my favorite sparrows, Lincoln’s.
There were still a few Blue-Winged Warblers. It’s been a good year to see them.
Female Goldfinches never get much press so I thought I’d share these two photos.
I always hear White-Throated Sparrows’ little chip notes before I see them. It was nice to have one posing.
In the Big Bird Flyover Department, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen an Osprey. I used to see one flying over the Des Plaines River when I visited Ottawa Trail, but that location is no longer available. I haven’t been back since they built a levy. It will be interesting to see what happens with the river, with all the rain we are getting this week.
A rare glimpse of Mrs. Bluebird Tuesday morning.
Early on I saw this Least Flycatcher from the bridge, at quite a distance.
Most of the warblers were distant and high in the trees, so much so that I didn’t always know what I was looking at until I processed the photos.
Black-and-White Warblers have been a bit evasive this year.
Something about the cool, slow start to spring has made the moss look happier.
Here’s a bird I never thought I’d see. It was really far away so I had no idea what it was until later.
Palm Warblers are still around but blending in too well with their surroundings.
One of my favorites, Canada Warbler, was down low but in the shade.
Here’s one of two female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks I saw together in the same location.
I first saw the man below a couple weeks ago, I think. He was playing loud music from that speaker thing he’s got in his right hand. Keeping my social distance, I cupped my hands over my ears. The next time I heard him coming, he was playing “Scotland the Brave”. I thought about whatever PTSD he was suffering from, it was too bad he had to foist it on other people, but I decided not to let him bother me and maybe it was a good thing he was walking his dog in the woods. Anyway, it’s likely he’s been out every day since the lockdown began.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are challenging to spot, but it’s often rewarding when I do see them.
Below you can barely see a Spotted Sandpiper in the shadow of the bent log.
I actually saw a flock of thirty or more Common Grackles fly in on Tuesday.
There are a lot of Brown-headed Cowbirds this year.
Here’s one of those surprise warblers I found later in the photographs. I had to do some thinking about this one. When I think of a Blackburnian Warbler I always imagine the males. This is a female. It took me a while to figure her out.
Magnolias are usually easier to see than this one, but migration isn’t over yet.
Distant but distinguishable Black-throated Green Warblers.
I don’t see Hairy Woodpeckers half as often as Downies. I find though that I’m getting to be able to distinguish them by their feather pattern first.
I had been waiting for the Indigo Buntings to show up. I was to see about a dozen of them yesterday. These two were the first I saw on Tuesday.
Baltimore Orioles are setting up their territories.
Thanks for making it to the end of this long post! After I kept adding birds to the ebird list, I reported 51 species for Tuesday morning. I went back to the Portage Saturday and found some more beautiful birds. I’ll be back as soon as possible. Hope you are safe and well as can be, wherever you are.