Birding the 3-day Weekend

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American Goldfinch (female)

I’m finally getting around to these pictures from the Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday morning I led the second walk at the Portage and the weather could not have been more different, shall we say – weather is becoming more than an idle topic for conversation lately as we keep having these 40 degree temperature swings in either direction – than the first walk which was rainy and chilly: this time we had plenty of sunshine and it was getting downright warm. We saw fewer species than the first group, as migration had progressed substantially in the two weeks between walks, but we had a good time.

GREG 5-26-18-4606It was nice to get good looks at the Great Egret that seems to be back in the area. The Green Herons were absent this visit but I suspect all the herons go back and forth between the Portage, Ottawa Trail and the Des Plaines River, so I am sure they are still around.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers were a presence. We didn’t even hear a Downy Woodpecker which is really unusual as I always expect to see or hear at least four any time of year but they must have been very busy being quiet.

It’s occurred to me that Song Sparrows are likely the only breeding sparrows at the Portage. Habitat requirements being what they are, I never thought this was odd but at the same time it seems there are a couple Chipping Sparrows that come back to my neighborhood every year so I wonder even about that. I guess it’s location, location, location.

Early on we saw one of many Warbling Vireos we would hear constantly.WAVI 5-26-18-4581And the Indigo Buntings did not disappoint.

This was as close as I could get to a Northern Flicker.NOFL 5-26-18-4620Two surprise birds below, neither of which were very visible, but I can now look forward to finding them again. Great Crested Flycatcher on the left, which we saw on our way out, and the camera just barely caught the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo on the right. I had pointed the camera lens at its curious-looking eyes peering out at me from where it was perched, and then it flew. I’ve heard cuckoos before at the Portage but have never seen one there until now.

For all the warmth and midges swarms, there weren’t many swallows that morning. Below is a Tree Swallow taking a break.

TRSW 5-26-18-4642There were likely more Common Grackles than we saw, but this one was foraging in the bottomlands by the Des Plaines River.

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Two days later on Memorial Day, I decided to go birding early at McGinnis Slough and then swim in the Orland Park fitness center pool, my dream scenario ever since I’ve had to go to Orland while my usual swimming hole has been under remodeling. I’ve been driving by the Slough at night after work to go swimming, often seeing deer foraging in the grass before the days got longer and thus lighter at that hour, but now I had the entire day free and it was hot so a swim after birding seemed to be the perfect idea. I haven’t been able to swim well with my knee out of whack, but the pool has been excellent therapy.

Below is a Widow Skimmer Dragonfly, which we also had at the Portage. A reminder it’s time to get ready for dragonfly identification again.

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Wood Duck

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Double-Crested Cormorants

It was nice to see families at McGinnis, like the Mallards below.

Red-Winged Blackbirds are more numerous here.

RWBL 5-28-18-4745RWBL 5-28-18-5043Two distinct silhouettes below: Double-Crested Cormorant and Turkey Vulture.

Song Sparrows like McGinnis too.

Another Goldfinch…

AMGO 5-26-18-4685Waterfowl at McGinnis are usually distant and hard to see. Sometimes I take pictures and blow them up later to see what I was looking at, not that I ever get a very good image. Below the Mallard family are a couple pictures of a Great Blue Heron in flight and more Wood Ducks. I was surprised to not see any Great Egrets yet at McGinnis, as they can be everywhere. Likely they’ve been thrown off by the crazy weather too and I’m more confused than they are. I’m sure I’ll see them as we slide into summer.

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Here’s one more picture of a most accommodating Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

RBWP 5-26-18-4695I’ll be staying close to home, there’s much work to do in my yard. Not feeling up to rushing yet. Still savoring life in the slow lane.


Blending In: The Camouflaged Life

Great Blue Heron, Fullersburg Woods

Great Blue Heron, Fullersburg Woods

Sunday morning I was still too worn out from the Friday and Saturday to go very far, so I made a trip to Fullersburg Woods in DuPage County, closer to home. Fullersburg has a range of habitats and the trails are easy to navigate, but the focal point for me in summertime has to be the Salt Creek running through it. It’s a beautiful setting.

Fullersburg Woods 1I2A0971

I did not expect to see very many species, but I thought perhaps I could get a little closer to a heron or two. My first discovery was not a bird but a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. Butterflies are rarer sights this year.

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

The herons did not disappoint. A few steps along the Salt Creek and I found a Great Egret who was more concerned about its catch than me taking its picture.

Great Egret Fullersburg 1I2A0903Great Egret Fullersburg 1I2A0902Great Egret Fullersburg 1I2A0913

Same goes for a juvenile Solitary Sandpiper.

Juvenile Solitary Sandpiper 1I2A0939Spotted Sandpiper 1I2A0925

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Farther along, the birds were a bit less obvious. Click on the picture below to see if you can find the Green Heron.

Green Heron in disguise

Green Heron in disguise

I caught up with it later at a much closer range.

Green Heron

Green Heron

And now see if you can find the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo in the photo below.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo - where are you?

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo – where are you?

Mallards are always expected. These were catching morning naps.



Sleeping with one eye open…

Sleeping Mallards

Sleeping Mallards

At some point this dragonfly decided it wanted to blend in with the trail right in front of me.

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The trail that runs along the Salt Creek meets up with Graue Mill to the south where there is a waterfall which supplied the power to run the mill.

Waterfall at Graue Mill

Waterfall at Graue Mill

The Great Blue Heron that appears at the beginning of this post eventually became tolerant enough of my presence to give me the photo below. I then left him to continue fishing.

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