McGinnis Magic

Trumpeter Swans

After reading one birder’s report of McGinnis Slough being nearly under water, I decided to go see for myself. It was after 11:00 when I got there, so I didn’t expect to see many land birds, but you don’t necessarily go to McGinnis for land birds anyway.

Part of the flooded trail last Saturday.

The parking lot wasn’t flooded, in fact there were more cars there than usual. I got out of my car and started walking toward the water, and I saw the two Trumpeter Swans swimming slowly by – right in front of me. Normally these birds are way far away on the other side of the slough, visible only with binoculars if not a scope. I suppose they were checking out the other side of the pond now that the water had deepened it.

No sooner did I start taking pictures of the swans than I heard a commotion from behind where I was standing. Thus began several hundred if not eventually a couple thousand Sandhill Cranes passing overhead. This was the magical part. I am invariably stuck in the office when cranes are flying over, and now I had them practically all to myself.

Sandhill Cranes
As the groups of cranes began swirling above and around each other, there were what looked like some near collisions.

There were a few ducks close to the western edge, too, that I normally would not see.

Lesser Scaup female with a male Bufflehead in the background
Blue-Winged Teal
Greater Scaup
My only land bird photograph – a Black-Capped Chickadee

I walked as far as I could around the flooding and made it to the usual overlook where there were several young women who appeared to be part of a class outing. That explained the extra cars in the parking lot. They were absorbed in their conversation and I did not interrupt them. After my feast of birds I was not interested in trying to make out the usual dots on the water.

I have to start going back to McGinnis more often. It just occurred to me that on my last visit, there was hardly any water!

Sandhill Cranes

Between ice and open water

This on-again, off-again winter, hurried down to the lakefront to see the ice before it melts away.

Birds gather farther away from the shoreline in the open water. I could make out the Canada Geese, Common Mergansers and Herring Gulls but missed the reported Scaup and Snowy Owl Friday morning.

The ice cover has a moonscape look to it.

The fissures create unusual patterns as the water laps up in between the seams, from smooth to jagged like broken glass.

A crow on the lakefront.

And White-Wing absconding with her hot dog reward.

Yesterday I visited Brookfield Zoo. There’s a little lake at the edges of the zoo grounds by the Salt Creek, where a portion of the water is kept open.

A Hooded Merganser.

The female Hooded Merganser. Female Mergansers in general always look like they were just at the hairdresser.

A Northern Shoveler barely stood out among the Mallards.

Adding the only musical note to this post, the Trumpeter Swan. And trumpet he did.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

Away from the lake, but outdoors in the cement pond area, the preening American White Pelicans have the last word.