Black Mulberries and Odonata

EUST Berries Portage 08-05-17-7181

Juvenile European Starling in the Black Mulberry Tree

I went back to the Chicago Portage last Saturday and figured out the three big trees with berries. After seeing the berries in my photos, they looked like mulberries to me. Sure enough, the trees are Black Mulberry, which can get up to 50 feet high, and at the Portage over the long period of time, they look like they have.

My history with mulberries is brief, but years ago one tree made an impression on me. There was a White Mulberry (Chinese) in my yard when I first moved in, and I quickly tired of the Starlings leaving a berry mess all over the place, not to mention the fact that you can never entirely get rid of mulberry trees, so I had the tree removed but I have to remain constantly vigilant, cutting down shoots here and there, if I can’t dig them up. More pictures of a Black Mulberry Tree below.

Maybe it was too early in the day for butterflies as there were absolutely none, but there were dragonflies and damselflies.

Female 12-Spotted Skimmer Dragonfly Portage 08-05-17-7259

Female 12-Spotted Skimmer

Common Whitetail Portage 08-05-17-7320

Common Whitetail

Poss Female Powdered Dancer Portage 08-05-17-7315

possible Female Powdered Dancer

Eastern Forktail Portage 08-05-17-7312

Eastern Forktail

Blue-Ringed Dancer Portage 08-05-17-7298

Blue-Ringed Dancer

Predictably, many of the birds were juveniles, like the Red-Winged Blackbirds below.

And most of the birds were quite far away. For the record, a Cedar Waxwing and a Northern Flicker.

The Mourning Doves below were at first a bit closer but didn’t wait for my shot (left) and then were cautiously distant (right).

It was nice to see an Osprey fly over, for a change.

Osprey Portage 08-05-17-7268

And a flying cigar (Chimney Swift).

CHSW Portage 08-05-17-7206

And quite unexpectedly for both of us, a young buck White-tailed Deer on the trail ahead of me.

Young Buck Portage 08-05-17-7439Wildflowers still captured my attention.

Wildflower Portage 08-05-17-7040In particular I was glad to see the Jewelweed (impatiens capensis, Spotted Touch-Me-Not) starting up again. I’ve been seeing a couple hummingbirds at the Portage the last few weeks but not close. There’s always the possibility Jewelweed will attract them when it’s in full bloom.

Jewelweed Portage 08-05-17-7229

Jewelweed

And sure enough, Burdock and Pokeweed are on the chopping block.

Burdock and Pokeweed Pulled Up Portage 08-05-17-7223More unfinished Starlings below…

And Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and a Baltimore Oriole.

BAOR Portage 08-05-17-7351

House Wren and Gray Catbird… Indigo Buntings abound.

INBU Portage 08-05-17-7422

Female Indigo Bunting

INBU Portage 08-05-17-7056

Juvenile Male Indigo Bunting

AMRO Berries Portage 08-05-17-7174

American Robin in the Black Muberry

This coming Sunday, my flutist friend Linda and I are playing flute-and-piano music for the service at the Second Unitarian Church in Chicago. Not sure I will be able to venture out again this Saturday morning. I slept in last Sunday…

Big Marsh, Hegewisch Marsh and a Lifer

Least Bittern Big Marsh 07-30-17-6896

Least Bittern at Big Marsh

Last Sunday I joined Chicago Ornithological Society’s trip led by Walter Marcisz to a couple areas he knows so well, far south in the Cook County limits and to which I had never been. So tempting was this offering, there were an almost unmanageable 40 of us. But all went well, thanks to Walter’s skillful leadership.

The photograph above is of a Least Bittern which was a life bird for me. I wish I’d gotten a sharper image but we were all caught quite unawares standing around looking out when suddenly this bird decided it needed to go somewhere, so I consider myself lucky i got it at all. The rest of my shots of this bird have someone’s head in them so maybe that gives you an idea.

The parking lot where we met before taking off for the marshes not far away afforded these two captures below: a Double-Crested Cormorant on a light fixture and two Barn Swallows hanging out on the barbed wire.

The wildflower investigation continues. The plant below seemed to be everywhere at Big Marsh and I think there was some at Hegewisch too although by that time I was so tired of seeing it I may have been ignoring it. Someone identified it as Spotted Knapweed, so I looked it up on my wildflower app and sure enough, it is an invasive, with somewhat nasty properties. If handled a lot it can cause tumors on the hands. Yuck. Made one bee happy however.

Bee on the Invasive Plant Big Marsh 07-30-17-6934I grew tired of trying to figure out the one below but it’s pretty in its isolation. I believe it was at Hegewisch. I didn’t take many pictures at Hegewisch – we weren’t there long. We went to see the Common Gallinules – who used to be Common Moorhens – that have been breeding there this year. We caught glimpses but not much else behind the tall grasses.

Wildflowers Big Marsh 07-30-17-6958I was happy to see Northern Rough-winged Swallows as I have missed seeing them in my usual haunts this year.

More birds in flight. A Killdeer on the left, and a Great Egret on the right.

Always happy to see a Caspian Tern hunting in good view. This was also at Big Marsh where we spent the most time.

And Eastern Kingbirds still seemed to be everywhere.

HOFI Big Marsh 07-30-17-6946

Female House Finch, Big Marsh

As close in proximity as these areas are to the city, they are big enough to afford an unobstructed view of the sky which was gorgeous that day.

Cloudscape Big Marsh 07-30-17-6960One more swallow.

Northern RW Swallow Big Marsh 07-30-17-6950

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

Back very soon with a report from my yard as my wishes are slowly being fulfilled!

A Change in the Weather

Fog 6-25-14-2013

The weather in Chicago is nothing if not interesting. We seem to be repeating some of the pattern established last summer: extremely hot weather followed by a cool spell, usually following some thunderstorm activity. Last week the effect of all this was one spectacularly foggy morning in the Loop.

Fog 6-25-14-2018-2On the Way In 6-25-14-2015

By the time I got to the Thompson Center, the pigeons were hanging out on the Jean Dubuffet sculpture which looks like it was made out of paper mache. It’s big enough you can walk inside it, between its “legs.”

Pigeons on the Dubuffet sculpture at the Thompson Center

Pigeons on the Dubuffet sculpture at the Thompson Center

Pigeon on the Dubuffet 6-25-14-2026The lack of green space takes its toll on me and the birds down here. I’m also not fond of crowds and so I tend to stay away from Millennium Park during the summer. But after spending a couple days working through lunch, it’s definitely better to go out and look at anything that doesn’t have to do with staring at a computer monitor. So I visited Lurie Garden one day with the macro lens.

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake Master

Bug on Flowers 6-19-14-1810

Probable Margined Soldier Beetle

I’ve just purchased the Audubon app to help identify bugs but I am hopeless when it comes to flowers. I get overwhelmed surfing through pictures. I’ll take any help I can get if you know what these are. The red one on the bottom completely stumps me. Is it some sort of Monarda? (Those of you who are flower experts are allowed to laugh at me.)

Flower 6-19-14-1798

Spiderwort – I think

Flower 6-19-14-1812

almost looks like a Blazing Star but I don’t think it is

Flower 6-17-14-1764

A female Northern Cardinal found me that day and she got lucky, I had peanuts just for her.

Cardinal 6-13-14-1676

Sometimes it seems appropriate to pay attention to a Rock Pigeon. They are beautiful, we just take them for granted. But I look at it this way: they confirm our existence. This is one species that would not be here (as much) without us.

Pigeon 6-24-14-2007

 

“Marsh Mallow” at the Slough

Swamp Rose-Mallow

My visit to McGinnis Slough this time found the Swamp Rose-Mallow in bloom. I was able to find three colors of it. They are big, beautiful flowers that stand tall with the reeds.

Unlike last time when I was nearly eaten alive by deer flies, this morning was delightful. It was not yet too hot, there was a gentle breeze, and the sky was partly cloudy which gave a the light a particular density.

Great Egrets

Three weeks ago, I could find only one Great Egret. Today, there had to be maybe 300. If they weren’t in the trees they were fishing all along the banks and in the shallow water.

The Great Blue Herons had increased in number too from three weeks ago. I estimate 175. Here’s one flying over, looking effortless. Egrets, herons and cranes often remind me of ballet dancers defying gravity.

Great Blue Heron

And this time I had a Green Heron that flew up into a tree nearby, after something.

Green Heron

I don’t think he got what he was looking for, he looked frustrated. I’ll take suggestions for a caption for this shot!