Quick Visit

RHWO 6-16-18-5238

Red-Headed Woodpecker

After being stuck in the office all week even when there was nice weather, I decided I had to get out to the Portage early Saturday morning before the sauna-like weather baked in. I didn’t get there quite as early as planned but it was good to be back and get my mind off everything else for a couple hours.

Unsurprisingly, more birds were heard than seen. It’s breeding season and time be to inconspicuous. Also, the building intensity of sunlight didn’t suit many birds well. A lot of singers were hidden in the leaves of the treetops. And if I did see one, like the catbird below, it was backlit in the shade.

I’m almost embarrassed for the Baltimore Oriole on the left and bottom right below, I’m not sure if he’d just taken a bath but he was a disheveled mess when I caught him preening.

Then there was this iridescent green beetle on the trail…

Green Tiger Beetle 6-16-18-5168

Green Tiger Beetle

And one of many Widow Skimmers. It seems ridiculous to be taking closeups with a 600mm lens, but the dragonfly didn’t seem to mind.

Widow Skimmer 6-16-18-5166I had only one Red-Winged Blackbird volunteer.

RWBL 6-16-18-5139And after weeks of hardly seeing any Downy Woodpeckers, I did see this one messing around in the leaves like a warbler.

But the highlight was seeing an adult Red-Headed Woodpecker. Last fall I saw a juvenile at the end of September, pictured below. I have been wondering all year if these birds would find the Portage suitable habitat now that the forest is less dense. It worked for the Great Horned Owls. And now there is a Red-Headed Woodpecker. I hope he stays.

RHWO 09-30-17-9164

Juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker 9-30-17

I am only able to finish this short post because I didn’t go swimming tonight. The threat of thunderstorms kept me home. Not that I mind thunderstorms, but I don’t relish driving in them and anyway, for whatever reason, the threat can be enough for the fitness center to close access to the pool. So I’m sitting here safe, hanging out with the indoor crowd after a long day at work, hoping for a reassuring crash of thunder. In any event, whatever weather system this turns out to be, we will be cooler than the last three days and that will be a blessing.

A Flicker of Gold

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

I have longed to capture one of the most beautiful and amazing sights from several years ago when I was birding in the old Daley Bicentennial Plaza. A Northern (Golden-Shafted) Flicker flew right over my head and I was absolutely stunned by the shining gold of its spread wings. I never again wondered about the origin of the name “Golden-Shafted.”

Golden-Shafted Flicker

Golden-Shafted Flicker

Sunday morning at the Chicago Portage, I encountered what may have been a family group of Northern Flickers and spent time observing them. Individually Flickers can be pretty shy, so I was not about to pass up this opportunity. Although I was not able to get one to repeat my earlier experience, I did manage to capture a glimpse or two of the golden shafts, albeit from the back side.

Checking to make sure they left nothing behind?

Checking to make sure they left nothing behind?

Earlier this spring, a pair of Flickers spent much time discussing the nesting possibilities of this same dead stump. I never managed to check to see if they used it for that purpose but I imagine they did, their nesting experience was a successful one, and now they are reluctant to leave.

NOFL Portage 9-7-14-4865

Sometimes that white rump speeding away from me is all I will see of one of these birds. The light is rarely so fortunate to capture all this color.

NOFL Portage 9-7-14-4943

By the photo below, I now think the Flickers may have been attracted to this stump because they can blend in so well with it.

NOFL Portage 9-7-14-4864

More will follow eventually from Sunday’s excursion, in a subsequent post.