Green Heron Bliss at the Portage

Thursday was a quiet day at the Chicago Portage. I met Bob on the trail and we looked for birds while wondering what Chicago Portage Day was going to be like two days later. I will be back with a little report on that event soon. But Thursday turned out to be a magical encounter with a Green Heron and it deserves commemoration.

Song Sparrows are still singing. The one on the left appears to be a juvenile.

We encountered an Eastern Wood-Pewee, albeit backlit. I am happy to report that I have heard this bird all summer and have seen it on several occasions.

It was a good day for butterflies.

Juvenile Indigo Buntings are starting to appear.

And now we are getting glimpses or better of Baltimore Orioles again.

Just when we thought we had seen everything, while we were standing at the bridge closest to Harlem looking out into the swamp, if you will, I saw something move. Directly below us on a narrow log or branch was a Green Heron. Even though it was quite close, it appeared small to me.

We watched it as it fished for dragonflies and aquatic creatures. Occasionally it would pull something small out of the water. I was trying to be quiet and careful not to disturb the heron with the camera lens.

Suddenly one of those Common Whitetail dragonflies appeared within reach. The heron caught it.

It took some extra maneuvering before the dragonfly went down the hatch.

The most amazing thing about this entire encounter is that the Green Heron seemed totally unfazed by our attention. After some people walked by and it did not react, I was able to get a better view at the end of the bridge. Then Bob suggested I try shooting a video. Below is my short movie. (Bob was sorry not to have his own camera handy but he did take a video with his phone.)

Bob was also kind enough to loan his binoculars to a couple young women who stopped to see what was going on at the bridge. An experience like this could turn them into birders. By the way, the heron appeared larger with its neck outstretched.

I was too worn out from yesterday’s festivities to go birding this morning, but I did some work in the yard early. I’d like to go back outside to see if I can capture a hummingbird at the feeder, although it’s turning cloudy and the bugs are biting. Rain is in the forecast the next day or two. I will have to play it by ear. Here’s a quick look at my favorite color combination outside the back door, and though I rarely cut flowers, I had a couple sprigs of Ironweed that begged to be trimmed.

Late Summer with the Goldfinches

AMGO Yard 8-18-18-7721The American Goldfinches are late breeders, so I haven’t seen more than one or two around until this past week. They are now returning to the yard to take advantage of the thistle socks again, but they are also helping themselves to the seed-heads forming on the flowers. I don’t think it ever occurred to me before that just when I’m thinking the coneflowers are looking like it’s all over, it’s just beginning for the goldfinches.

AMGO Yard 8-18-18-7725I watched this one male work on the “spent” flower he’s sitting on for so long I finally decided to take a video.

And then there’s the thistle socks. The second photo was through the porch window so it’s fuzzy.

The sunflower seed feeder is always popular with the House Finches and Northern Cardinals.

I haven’t seen the skunks for about a week. I was hoping they were keeping the cat below, photographed under my neighbor’s deck, out of the yard. I have never seen her attack anything but I am not fooled by her innocent-looking lolling around licking herself on the back cement pad.

Cat 8-18-18-7833The squirrels seem to be distracted from creating too much chaos by a steady supply of peanuts.

Squirrel Yard 8-18-18-7825There were not a lot of birds on Saturday’s first bird walk, and since they were difficult to see in the overcast I didn’t take many pictures, except in one or two cases just to confirm identification. So I’ll stay in the yard for this post. Below is an Agapostemon Sweat Bee gathering pollen.

We’ve had so much rain alternating with hot, sunny days this season everything in the yard is growing out of control. My Big Bluestem is well-established and as tall as I am. I like the fringed look of its flowering.

I haven’t done well with tomatoes for years, but I can grow peppers. This is the first time I’ve planted poblano chiles. They’re getting bigger. I’ll have to start cooking them soon.

Poblano Chile Yard 8-18-18-7912I really like the Mistflower and am glad I planted it in a shady spot between two trees where it’s filling in nicely.

Mistflower Yard 8-18-18-7908Below is a plant that introduced itself this year and up until a couple days ago, I didn’t know what it was. But I was reviewing the University of Illinois weed page looking for something else, and found its picture. I am happy to identify it as Toothed Spurge (poinsettia dentata). Although it has shown up uninvited, it is a native and rather attractive. The leaves are so thick they look almost like a succulent. I’m relieved it’s not an invasive, so I think I can let it hang out for the rest of the season.

Toothed Spurge Yard 8-11-18-7482The Wild Senna on the left below is pretty much gone, but the Tall Ironweed is still blooming, although a lot of it has fallen over.

In the front yard I discovered Nodding Onion which I think might be blooming well for the first time this year since it was planted by Art three or four or however many years ago it’s been now. And the one Cardinal Flower plant continues. I’d like to have more of it. Not sure I have a good red thumb though.

More regular visitors, of course House Sparrows, but I thought this one was a rather attractive little guy. And the female Downy Woodpecker below, on the peanut feeder, looks like this might be her first year in the yard.

HOSP Yard 8-18-18-7808DOWP Yard 8-11-18-7508One more of my too-hungry-to-be-camera-shy goldfinch. Saturday I “lead” the group on another bird walk, and I hope this time to see some migrants to write about.

AMGO Yard 8-18-18-7761

Meanwhile Back at the Bungalow

Monarch Front Yard 07-29-17-6854

Monarch Butterflies have not been many, but I’ve had at least one visiting my yard every day I’m around to witness it. Glad they like the Tall Ironweed below.

American Goldfinches have been taking advantage of seed abundance everywhere.

I don’t know who will care for the Wild Senna seed pods but this is what the plant has produced below. The flowers are all gone.

Wild Senna Yard 07-30-17-2475At least one Black-Capped Chickadee is on hand to remind me to keep the sunflower seed feeder full.

BCCH Yard 08-05-17-2676The Northern Cardinals are in various stages of molt.

NOCA Front Yard 07-29-17-6823

Female Northern Cardinal

NOCA Yard 08-05-17-2660

Juvenile Male Northern Cardinal

AMGO Yard 08-05-17-2656

American Goldfinch

I was sitting outside on my front porch waking up from an afternoon nap after the past Sunday’s outing to Big Marsh and a beautiful female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird zoomed in to check out my front wildflower garden. Of course I didn’t have the camera with me. But I hung a feeder on the front porch. I live in hope for a future photo opportunity.