Thursday, October 19, 2017

Little kings crowned and bejeweled

The final week of our "warm season" stay in Illinois drew to a close a bit earlier than in most years. We missed the peak of autumn color. It was forecast to be much more subdued this year because of the late-summer drought.

A few maples, at nearby Lippold Park in Batavia, stood out among the oaks...

Lippold Park color 2-20171009

...and one accented the pavillion:

Lippold Park pavillion 20171002

Usually our schedule permits us the opportunity, not only to witness the end of fall migration, but to see a variety of other northern "target" land bird species which spend their winters in NE Illinois. 

I hoped to see Fox Sparrows which usually arrive late in October, but which have posed for photos as early as October 7. Slate-colored Juncos and Purple Finches become abundant after mid-October.  Red-breasted Nuthatches are irregular migrants and may suddenly show up as early as August. American Tree Sparrows, Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings usually wait until November, although any of these birds might appear a month or more earlier. So far I had not seen any of the aforementioned species.

We had a lovely walk at Bliss Woods preserve in Sugar Grove, but saw few birds. Blackberry Creek provided a nice fence and reflection:

Blackberry Creek 02-20170919

Rain and family committments limited the opportunities for birding as our departure approached. Rather than focus on failure, let's talk about what we did see in early October. Among the warblers were...

Nashville Warbler:

Nashville Warbler 20171009

Black-throated Green Warbler:

Black-throated Green Warbler 01-20171009

Black-throated Green Warbler 03-20171009

The arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers signals that the end of migration is approaching:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 01-20171010

As expected, some of the earlier-arriving northern sparrows were present, including the White-throated Sparrow...

White-throated Sparrow 04-20171005

...and White-crowned Sparrow. This is an immature:

White-crowned Sparrow immature 20171009

Speaking of crowns, the highlights of our final week were flocks of two kinglet species. They are very active and tiny and difficult to photograph as they flit among the leaves.  

The female Golden-crowned Kinglet has a yellow cap:

Golden-crowned Kinglet 03-20171010

Male Golden-crowned Kinglets have varying amounts of red in the center of the patch:

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 06-20171008

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 08-20171008

The red feathers may be retracted and become barely visible, as in this male:

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 01-20171010

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were present among the Golden-crowns. The males erect a red crest when excited or displaying to females or rivals, but they seem to be more placid during fall migration:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 02-20171010

Here is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet displaying this May, at almost the same spot in Nelson Lake preserve:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 01-20170507

My first photo of the precious ruby crown was taken at Lippold Park in April, 2010:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2-20100414


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

________________________________________________


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Illinois birds and landscapes

With our stay in NE Illinois drawing to a close, we have spent limited time in the field. Badly needed rain showers also "dampened" our plans. 

A visit to Hannaford Woods preserve in Sugar Grove yielded a sought-after Red-headed Woodpecker, though it was not very cooperative. It spent all its time high in the treetops looking down at us:

Red-headed Woodpecker 03-20170925

Red-headed Woodpecker 04-20170925

A Magnolia Warbler posed nicely in a natural halo of bokeh created by a break in the canopy:

Magnolia Warbler 04-20170925

The barn at Hannaford is such an interesting subject. I rendered its image as an oil painting (Click on image for more detail):

Hannaford Barn OIL 01-20170925

At nearby Nelson Lake preserve... 

Nelson Lake east entry sign 20170926

...a Black-capped Chickadee welcomed us:

Black-capped Chickadee 01-20170926

A male Eastern Bluebird stood guard near the entrance path:

Eastern Bluebird 20171005

Autumn colors were subdued, but the play of shapes and colors along the entrance path begged for an impressionistic interpretation (Again, click to see the painterly effect)...

Nelson Lake east entry OIL 20170917

...as did a bright patch of goldenrod under a lone tree on the prairie:

Nelson Lake prairie OIL 20170917

An Orange-crowned Warbler foraged among weed stems...

Orange-crowned Warbler 04-20171005

...and then flew to a small tree to get a better look at us:

Orange-crowned Warbler 07-20171005

A Tennessee Warbler posed in good light:

Tennessee Warbler 01-20171005

A  foot bridge, dedicated to Audubon, spans the creek at Nelson Lake...

Audubon Bridge 03-20171001

...but two months without rainfall have left it dry. Animal tracks punctuate the muddy course:

Dry creek with deer tracks 06-20171001

A Sandhill Crane hunted in a field near the preserve:

Sandhill Crane 01-20171005

A small flock of bluebirds included this young male, not quite adorned in full adult plumage:

Eastern Bluebird 03-20171001

We walked in Jones Meadow, the "pocket park" only a few blocks from our condo in North Aurora. Homes reflect on the surface of its pond:

Jones Meadow Park pond reflections 20170924

A Great Blue Heron roosted in a tree nearby:

Great Blue Heron 20170924

At Hawk's Bluff, another small park just doors from our daughter's home in Batavia, we found more chickadees:

Black-capped Chickadee 3-20170928

Black-capped Chickadee 2-20170928

A White-breasted Nuthatch followed its upside-down instincts:

White-breasted Nuthatch 01-20170928

It was rewarded with a juicy titbit hidden in the bark under a crooked branch-- maybe it was a nut stored there by a squirrel or jay:

White-breasted Nuthatch 03-20170928

White-throated Sparrows had arrived from northern breeding grounds:

White-throated Sparrow 20171002

A resident Song Sparrow even sang a few notes:

Song Sparrow 01-20171002

A Cooper's Hawk kept the small birds in hiding at Lippold Park in Batavia:

Cooper's Hawk 01-20171002

Gathering clouds cluttered the sky over the twin oaks at Nelson Lake. Much-needed rain was indeed on the way!

Twin Oaks at Nelson Lake 20171005

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


________________________________________________