I hadn’t walked around Riverside for a while so I took a walk Monday while it was still comfortable to be outside. There were lots of Canada Geese and only a few Mallards but I was happy to see the hen below with her two ducklings. I admit I cropped dad out of the picture.
It was also nice to see herons on the water. There were two Great Egrets but they were quite distant, so I photographed only one. I also saw one Great Blue Heron. The water level is so low they are standing in the middle of the river.
I was reminded of the storm the week before, both by the paved walk and later on the Riverside Lawn trail where I had to negotiate three downed trees.
I love the spotty plumage on young American Robins like the one below.
The damselfly treat of the day was a Blue-fronted Dancer.
I often see Common Grackles in the rocks by the river. This is a female.
Almost two weeks earlier, on June 8, I visited Riverside and the first bird I saw was a Cliff Swallow sitting on the wire for quite a while. I don’t see this species very often.
It was a cloudy day. and it was much cooler as well. Again, a Common Grackle caught my eye, this time, a male.
It seemed unusual to see a feral Rock Pigeon on the riverbank.
Canada Geese were in the river. Nothing unusual about that.
There was this little family taking a walk.
I struggled to see and photograph Killdeer that day. They blend in well with the rocks by the former Hoffman Dam.
Here are the first photos I took, literally just pointing the camera in the direction I was hearing the Killdeer.
At some point there was a Turkey Vulture being chased by a Red-winged Blackbird. I love to see the vultures in flight, they are so graceful. A series of several photos is below.
I managed to capture a Baltimore Oriole that day. The photo opportunities have decreased since nesting season has taken over everything.
Here’s one more of the Cliff Swallow.
There were a number of Variable Dancers on the Riverside Lawn trail. They are very tiny,
Summer is official now and hot weather is baked in, so to speak. I have a busy agenda this week and heading into July with the possibility of a house guest for a couple weeks, so my posts may be a little scattered or scatterbrained, but after all it is summertime. Hope you are enjoying the longer days and staying cool enough, wherever you are.
I parked in Lyons on September 27th and got out of the car, assembled my gear, and started walking barely a few steps when I looked up and saw this juvenile Osprey perched in a dead tree right above me. That was an auspicious beginning to a nice walk.
I crossed the bridge after not seeing any other birds on that side of the river. A fellow blogger, Tootlepedal, has suggested my last mention of the bridge was illegal without a photograph of it, so I did my best to frame it, but between my big lens and no way to get far enough away to capture it at a distance, this was the best I could do. I will keep trying, but I haven’t found this bridge’s aesthetic value yet…
Right off the bridge there has been a Great Egret, this time on the rocks that have been exposed due to the lack of water in the Des Plaines River.
The Great Blue Heron close to it was in a much wetter-looking spot. Actually this is right around the spot where there once was the Hofmann Dam, which has been removed.
The Red-winged Blackbird below could barely keep his perch.
Magnolia Warblers were still visible and this one was posing.
A handsome Turkey Vulture flew over, enhanced by a clear sky.
Two different species with the same color palette: they were both in the pokeweed.
It’s somewhat comforting to know the water is still deep enough in a few places for Double-Crested Cormorants.
I was very happy to see a Golden-crowned Kinglet well. They usually don’t sit still for too long.
A couple more of the juvenile Osprey. There were actually two of them flying around but I didn’t get photos of the action.
I went back two days later and got more pictures that I still have to process. Migration is slowing down a little bit, but I’ve also had a lot of work to do. I will be back with another report soon.
I am happy to note that we are finally getting some rain. It’s not going to make much of a difference in the water levels of the river, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
In celebration of my announced retirement to the firm yesterday – my last day at work is scheduled to be August 31st – I am publishing Part 2 tonight.
The last time I saw my friendly Indigo Bunting whose territory was around what I like to call the second bridge, he was claiming the sign as his territory as well, singing “And this is My Sign.” He then hopped over to the end of the bridge and started singing “And this is My Bridge” but when I raised the camera to capture him there, he took off.
When I was walking around the back trail by the MWRD property, I encountered a couple juvenile Yellow Warblers, which could explain why I haven’t heard or seen any singing males lately.
There aren’t a lot of dragonflies either.
I did catch a glimpse of a female Baltimore Oriole.
I started taking pictures of this swallow from a great distance by the parking lot when I first got out of the car – and upon blowing them up later found it flying upside down.
Robins are ubiquitous now and their numbers have increased, thanks to a successful breeding season. Worms are plentiful now with the rain.
Another Indigo Bunting…or two. They’re not singing constantly anymore.
A few more scenes from the Portage…
The bottomlands by the Des Plaines River were flooded, affording a Wood Duck hen a place to shelter her babies. I saw them but it was impossible to capture them in the dark shadows as their mom moved them quickly away.
I went back this past Saturday when it started out quite cloudy and cool. Fewer birds posed but I had some interesting observations. I’ll try to round them up before the weekend. Midsummer is quiet in its abundance.
Two posts ago I shared a series of photographs from last spring of Downy Woodpecker courtship behavior. It might be a little early to expect to see that again this year, but I did encounter two Downies – albeit not yet interacting with each other – last Sunday.
The lovely lady below was exploring a tree stump. She was apparently viewed from above by the little guy whose photos follow (he’s also at the top of this post) but by the time he flew down to the stump, she had left. He looks a little young for her, don’t you think?
The first thing I saw, though, when I got out of my car, was a pair of European Starlings on the hand of the statue by the parking lot. Later another posed for me.
Maybe most impressive were all the buds on the trees.
I managed to get a glimpse of a pair of Wood Ducks flying. I heard them calling first.
it’s a challenge to photograph the only water movement under the first bridge, but I managed to just fit the lens hood between the divisions of the bridge railing to see if it would work.
Raptor of the day was a Turkey Vulture. I was happy to add it to the list as I had seen one from the car the week before.
Nothing happening on the Des Plaines but the reflection of the graffiti on the rocks caught my eye.
A pair of Mourning Doves on the grass of all places.
The Portage has its share of last year’s Oriole nests too.
So much for my little visit to the Portage last week. Since I missed this past weekend, I hope I can expect to see a few more birds by this coming Saturday or Sunday – or both. We were experiencing strong winds from the south, so that should be giving some birds a push along their route. Even though we have slipped back into the cold for a couple days, the coming weekend looks positively balmy. Hope you are enjoying the first signs of spring.
i kept struggling to write this post. In the meantime of course I have made more visits to the Portage. Maybe I can write this post now that I won’t be taking pictures for a while.
I was halfway into my morning walk today when I encountered someone walking toward me, about a block away. At that point I could not see that he was walking his dog, but he was not changing his path, so I started walking toward curbside to give us social distance. I tripped and fell suddenly on my left elbow. I could not get up, even with the dog walker’s help. So he called 911 and a nice woman from across the street offered me water. By this time I saw what I caught my shoe on – a circular piece of metal a little over a foot in diameter, strewn in the curb of the parkway: a perfect trap.
I’ll cut to the chase since I can’t type very well with one hand. I was taken to the emergency room because I became weak from the shock, x-rays were taken, and I have a broken elbow.
I am feeling much better, save the fact that I can’t go swimming and I can’t play piano, and I may have to take up dictation at this hunt-and-peck rate. In any event I saw an orthopedic surgeon this afternoon and he recommended surgery to stabilize the joint and attached tendon, because of my active lifestyle. Apparently the healing process will be faster as well as more efficient. I await a scheduling phone call.
Now on to some late August photos. I won’t be commenting so much… These photographs are from August 22, as I try to catch up with all my visits.
I think this was my last capture of a male Indigo Bunting for the season. The one below looks a little worse for wear. He was hanging out with a bunch of juveniles.
There were some Cedar Waxwings to be seen as well.
An Osprey flew over…
And less surprising, a Turkey Vulture
It was nice to see a Hairy Woodpecker. There are always Downies.
Miscellaneous Portage photos… the statue on a hot, dry day; the trail with towering growth on either side, which makes it increasingly difficult to avoid cyclists; an unidentified caterpillar; ripening poke weed berries; a strange, strangly-looking plant.
Black-capped Chickadees seem to be around as we head into fall. I have missed them on several earlier occasions.
American Goldfinches are everywhere now.
I’m not sure all these new formatting options are worthwhile, but it was one way to use all these photos of a juvenile House Wren.
I hope to be back soon with more from various localities. I have two Saturday bird walks coming up and it remains to be seen whether I can lead them. I don’t get many pictures on these occasions anyway, but it would like to witness at least some fall migration.
It’s all I can do to keep up with migration this spring, let alone the pictures I have taken…So I’m attempting to do this in chronological order but it won’t be easy. This past Saturday started out cool but sunny. I decided to start my walk in the opposite direction of what I normally do. Then I realized that I had forgotten to put my little portable stool in my backpack so I decided to walk back to the car to get it. As I walked, I heard the Great-Crested Flycatcher, and then saw him in one of the Redbud trees bordering the lawn behind the statue. The morning had promise.
Last Saturday was a riot of colorful birds. I counted a dozen male Indigo Buntings. They were everywhere and they were not particularly shy, so I took advantage of their fearlessness. You can see how the light affects the hue of the blueness, when actually their feathers are all black.
I ventured out to the gravel road that runs along the MWRD property and found two male Scarlet Tanagers. They were trading songs.
But I discovered a glimpse at a Summer Tanager later in my pictures.
For all the male Baltimore Orioles singing and displaying these last few weeks, I have seen only one or two females so far. But that’s because they’re busy tending the nest.
Yellow Warblers may stay and breed at the Portage. Invariably I hear them but don’t always see them. So I was glad to capture this one.
White-Breasted Nuthatches are present all year, but are not seen or even heard frequently now.
The female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak below is the last one I have seen. I am not aware of any starting families at the Portage, but it could happen.
We have had a lot of rain, and even more after these pictures were taken. There were two Canada Geese trying out the newly flooded waters.
So this time of year of course I’m looking for warblers wherever I can find them. I just calculated that over the last couple of weeks I have seen 21 species total. I haven’t been able to photograph them all, but most, sometimes discovering them in my photographs. I will try to post as many as possible. They won’t always be textbook-looking photos. For example, the Golden-Winged below I barely captured but it was the details from the photographs that I was able to identify it as a likely female.
Then there are the flycatchers. They can be confusing. I have since seen the Eastern Wood-Pewee again in the same location looking more like himself so I am guessing he was having an off day (typically he would look more pointy-headed).
On this day I saw this Turkey Vulture being escorted away by a Red-Winged Blackbird.
Song Sparrows are present, singing, and likely staying to raise families.
i keep hearing and sometimes seeing Chestnut-Sided Warblers every time I have been to the Portage since my first intimate encounter with one last Tuesday.
There’s a little rapids under the first bridge where the water runs out of the Portage. No water ever runs into the Portage, as far as I can tell, but It’s still nice to see the flow over the rocks.
More often heard than seen, Blue Jays are out and about but rarely available for photos, so it was nice to see this one.
I found this female Common Grackle to be attractive in her own way.
I had noticed this nest before but wasn’t sure anyone was using it until I managed to capture these two Goldfinches. You will probably have to click on the first photo to see the female poking her head out of it. I have since not been able to find the nest, which was not far from the trail, but it could still be there and hidden in all the plant growth that has occurred since.
Sadly, Black-Capped Chickadees are getting harder and harder to find. Long taken for granted, I am convinced they are in decline, at least locally. I caught this one in a hurry.
Here’s my Robin photo of the post.
As the leaves are finally coming out, it’s interesting to see how the spaces change.
Below is one of my favorite birds, a Blue-Headed Vireo. I have seen them a couple times this spring which is surprising to me, as I don’t think I have seen one for years.
Woodpeckers are busy everywhere.
And last for the moment, I finally was able to catch the male Eastern Bluebird in focus. He has a habit of posing in difficult places, but he sat long enough this time. And although I think I heard him this past week, I haven’t seen him since. I hope the pair is still nesting and I will be looking for baby bluebirds this summer.
I have been to the Portage four times since last Saturday! I am beginning to feel like I live there. Every time I have gone, there has been a different species or a special encounter with one I’ve seen so far this spring. As many people have remarked, the cool start has been difficult for the birds migrating to their breeding grounds. I can only hope those who have visited the Portage are finding what they need in this little hotspot and will survive and flourish on the rest of their journey.
I will be back with lots more. Thanks for checking in, and I hope you are safe, well, and able to get out and enjoy this spring.
I can’t believe another week has gone by already. While it seems like time should be moving slowly, I am finding it to be the opposite as my days at home fill up with work and chores. It’s as if I never left my schedule. And yet because I am home, it sometimes seems like I don’t have a schedule.
Winter returned twice this week and I was going to post a few pictures of birds in the snow but time got away from me and I’m not feeling too nostalgic for snow at the moment. It’s still chilly overnight but I think we are finally going to start warming up. And of course the question lurking right behind that is, Then What?
I went to the Portage last Saturday and Sunday mornings, because both days turned out fairly decent weather-wise. The variety of species differed somewhat between the two days, in that the Yellow-Rumped Warblers who posed for pictures and the one Ruby-Crowned Kinglet were present on Saturday but not detectable on Sunday. That sort of thing. On the other hand, I had the Bluebird on Sunday. So it goes.
I’ve been seeing Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers (I call them “Sappies”) in the neighborhood all week, and had one in my yard last weekend, but this is the only one I’ve been able to sort of capture so far.
There were a lot of White-Throated Sparrows, or at least more of them than the other species. Below this grouping is a short recording of one of them singing. He had a really nice version of their song, which has always been one of my favorites.
I had no idea what was going on with these Red-Winged Blackbirds on the trail as I approached them on Saturday, but on Sunday I noticed that someone has been leaving a little pile of birdseed, so that explains the gathering and likely the behavior. Feeding the animals is a no-no. But I imagine there are more people walking the trails these days than normally do, and I think that’s a good thing. Maybe we will all treasure being outside more after our quarantine subsides.
The Tree Sparrow was seen on Saturday and not on Sunday. I don’t expect to see one again until late fall.
The female Red-Wingeds have now joined the males and everybody’s ready to start working on the next generation. On Saturday I must have had more than 50 Red-Winged Blackbirds at the Portage. I don’t think I ever saw that many last year. It could be some were passing through. It will be interesting to see how many remain to nest.
There was one male Blue-Winged Teal hanging out with a couple of Mallards.
I only got a glimpse of the crown on this Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.
Woodpeckers – there were a lot of Northern Flickers. And Downy Woodpeckers are always present. I always hear a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, but don’t always see one. It was also nice to see a Hairy Woodpecker. I keep hoping I will see a Red-Headed Woodpecker here again.
This looks like a young male Red-Winged Blackbird. He must be a late-bloomer.
Robins are everywhere.
As things are just starting to turn green, mosses were attractive.
People have been reporting Hermit Thrushes so I was happy to see one. I miss seeing half a dozen of them at once downtown in the city, but maybe it’s better to see one in the woods than a lot of them on turf grass.
There were two Turkey Vultures flying around, at then at one point they landed in the trees.
A lovely Mrs. Cowbird. What more can I say?
The trees are starting to bud and this will all burst into green soon.
If you click on the dove pictures you can see nesting material in its bill easier.
There are a lot of Cardinals at the Portage but they’re not always easy to capture, especially this time of year when they’re busy setting up territories.
So here is the Bluebird of Happiness. I don’t get to see Bluebirds too often, so this was a special treat.
I plan to go out this weekend and with any luck, there will be even more birds to see. Migration continues, and I suspect the birds are having a better time of it without so much human interruption.
I thought I’d be returning to this page with pictures from my travels but my plans have been derailed by local distractions. It seems I cannot stand at the kitchen sink and look out the window for more than a minute before a Downy Woodpecker is on the suet feeder that hangs from the sumac tree.
I planned to go to the Portage yesterday, but the weather kept me home with 35 mph winds and gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and also flood warnings along the Des Plaines. I decided not to take the chance of being blown around the trail with the possibility of trees falling on me. The Portage is likely high enough above the Des Plaines River basin not to be affected too much by its flooding but I wasn’t all that curious either. Not sure if fear of catching or spreading a virus is making me more timid to take any chances at all. Combining the weather warnings with cloudy skies and birds predictably hunkered down, I decided it was advisable to stay home. But I would go out for a walk a little later, just to experience the wind at a safe distance.
As it turned out, soon after I was out the front door, three, possibly four, Turkey Vultures appeared, coasting about on the wind. They were sallying around the neighborhood for half an hour at least. Then when I returned to my front door, I heard a nearby Dark-Eyed Junco, and got lucky with one and then another perching in the little apple tree where they posed for a minute or two. I have been trying to take pictures of Juncos for months to no avail, but have managed the past couple days to photograph the ones that visit my yard. I wonder if the birds are more curious about me, now that they are relatively free of constant human activity.
Most of the photographs below are from one sunny day last week, March 25. I went out and sat in the back of the yard soaking up the sunshine. It was midday, not the optimum for light conditions, but outside was the place to be, relatively warm, hanging out with the feeder crowd.
Even the local songster Northern Cardinal made a guest appearance…!
On Saturday afternoon late, when there were no birds in the yard, I saw the reason why. I couldn’t get very good images between the lack of light and the window screens on the porch, but here is a very hungry looking Cooper’s Hawk.
Of course as I tried to sneak out the back door for a better photo, it left.
Below is a little expression inspired by the indoor crowd yesterday. I’ve titled it “Minimalist Zebra Finches” and, of course, they participated enthusiastically.
The Mourning Doves below: I love how the male is “politely” chasing the female. I tried to capture how his neck was lit up in the second photograph.
It must have been the lighting – I was pretty far away – but this is an interesting-looking House Sparrow.
And there are worms to be had for the Robin…
Spring is coming. The days are getting longer. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.
We had beautiful weather for the entire trip, which made the drive from Puerto Vallarta to San Blas, Mexico, along the Pacific coast in the state of Nayarit, that much better. It’s a long drive, and we made several stops along the way to look for birds. Some were familiar, like Yellow Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Summer Tanager which visit my habitat during spring and summer.
We had San Blas Jays and Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers in abundance. The Golden-Fronted are common in Texas, but the San Blas Jays are endemic to Mexico.
We encountered some doves and Painted Buntings foraging along a dirt road…
I don’t know where I saw this heron, but the camera doesn’t lie, so we must have encountered it on that day. I don’t see Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons very often, especially juveniles.
At some point it was temporarily cloudy along the way. So you may wonder why I am including these very dark pictures. The Cinnamon-Rumped Seedeater is of some significance in that it has been split from the White-Collared Seedeater, which makes it an endemic species. And such a close encounter with some Black Vultures seemed friendly enough.
One of many Grayish Saltators on the trip.
We would see Sinaloa Wrens again. Which didn’t stop us from searching for a species called “Happy Wren” which we heard quite often, but hardly saw it once.
This could have been our only Gila Woodpecker. I had thought it was already on my life list but it turns out I haven’t seen it before, except in a field guide, so I am glad I have proof.
We would see Rufous-bellied Chachalacas again, but for a large bird they are amazing difficult to capture.
Our first Citreoline Trogon. I was surprised to find I actually got a fairly decent picture.
Later in the day, we were on the beach, and this lone Willet gave us good, if distant, views as it expertly navigated the shore.
An assortment of beach bums were gathered – Brown Pelicans, Black Vultures, Magnificent Frigatebirds, various Herons – I think a man had left them some food.
We were assured all cormorants would be Neo-tropical…and most of the terns were Royal.
Before we checked into our hotel, we stopped at a historical site, El fuerte de la Contaduria, when we arrived in San Blas. It’s situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I wish I had paid more attention to the historic significance which our guide, Steve, was trying to impart to us, but I was pretty tired from traveling by then. I believe the statue is of Don Jose Maria Mercado.
It was challenging for many reasons to get photographs on this day. The birds were far away. They were backlit. They were hiding behind branches of trees or leaves of cactus. It was somewhat cloudy. And yet I was surprised to finally go through all the pictures more thoroughly and find some images I didn’t know I had. Most of all, it is great to get a feel for the landscape where the birds and other creatures were.
Saving the big hike for the following day, we explored the low-lying areas along the Rio Grande.
Most of these birds we continued to see throughout the trip, like the Say’s Phoebe below. I like the cactus cover this bird was using.
Mexican Jays are stunning. I don’t think we ever saw more than two at one time. They were somewhat elusive.
We saw Roadrunners on occasion but not close enough or long enough to get really good pictures. Maybe we were too distracted by our search for less common species.
Hearing and barely seeing a Bell’s Vireo is a big event where I come from, so witnessing their incessant chatter and then getting such great views was heaven for me.
I adore Ravens and tried to get photographs whenever I could.
We spent some time locating and then looking at this Tropical Parula. It was so far away I wasn’t at all sure I got a photograph so I was surprised to find a few that were in focus. So I guess it was good I was carrying around my monster lens most of the time, although by the end of the trip it was starting to fall apart…
This Turkey Vulture is actually kind of cute. Snazzy pink legs and face to match.
Vermillion Flycatchers were almost everywhere. I like the female’s subdued plumage.
I think Western Wood Pewee was a new bird for me.
I got only one distant fuzzy shot of the male Varied Bunting, bottom right.