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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reverse Migration

Here in Illinois the offspring of the local Bald Eagles have just fledged. During the next 4-6 weeks they are expected to begin following their parents on fishing and hunting forays. By the time the cold weather arrives their proficiency should have improved to the point that they will strike out on their own. Depending upon the severity of the winter, they may move southward, joined by many more of their kind from the far northern reaches of the species' range, following along the Fox River to find open water, with many congregating downstream along the Illinois River to its confluence with the Mississippi River system.  

On May 18, one of the two eaglets was in the nest. It may have already fledged, but it is common for them return to the nest to be fed:

Bald Eagle and eaglet 20150517

 Bald Eagle feeding eaglet 2-20150517

The Bald Eagles that nested near our Florida home did not breed successfully this year. If they had, their young would just now be polishing their hunting skills in preparation for a migration in the opposite direction. As temperatures increase in the waters of Florida lakes, fish seek the cooler depths. Young eagles find it easier to see and catch fish in the cooler lakes and rivers to the north. Many move up the east coast to the Carolinas and the Chesapeake Bay area, and some have been tracked into the extreme northeastern US.

You may recall that the original male of the the pair lost his mate in late October, 2014, and found a new companion in early December. Although they mated, their union did not produce any young. They seem to have bonded very well. Curiously, they both continue to work on the nest, adding and rearranging sticks. See the latest reports and photos of this behavior by Luis, a faithful eagle watcher, at  THIS LINK

(Photo ©2015 LuisEagles)

We also are now heading the wrong way, flying back from Illinois to Florida, at least for a while, leaving what is left of the spring songbird migration behind us. Bad weather and lots of local travel and family events curtailed our time afield. Here are some photographic highlights of our stay in NE Illinois.

At Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh Forest Preserve in nearby Batavia, the grass had turned green and the trees were leafing out by the  middle of May:

 Nelson Lake HDR  20150515

A notable sighting at Nelson Lake on May 9 was a single Bobolink, the first reported in the county this season:

Bobolink 20150409

Bobolinks seem to have their plumage arranged the wrong way, as the undersides of most birds are lighter than their uppers. Posing on a fence post, the Bobolink demonstrates this feature very nicely:

Bobolink HDR 20150409

Yellow-rumped Warblers, early arrivals, were still moving through the treetops:

 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20150513

Common Yellowthroats are already staking out nesting territories on the prairie:

Common Yellowthroat 20150409

American Goldfinches, befitting their name, have molted into their brilliant breeding (alternate) plumage:

American Goldfinch 20150515

Yellow Warblers offer a more subtle but no less beautiful shade:

Yellow Warbler 3-20150518

I find it easy to overdose on Yellow Warbler photos:

Yellow Warbler singing 2-20150414

This first year male Orchard Oriole will take on a brick-red coat by next season:

 Orchard Oriole 1st yr male 20150518

An Eastern Meadowlark sings enthusiastically:

Eastern Meadowlark 3-20150409

A tad of yellow highlights the brow of a Savannah Sparrow:

Savannah Sparrow 20150518

While not sporting feathers, this early Eastern Tiger Swallowtail fits the theme as it probes the dandelions for nectar:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 3-20150515

Indigo Buntings represent another primary color:

Indigo Bunting singing 2-20150519

The clouds part momentarily, to allow a "blue-on-blue" portrait:

Indigo Bunting 20150519

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher incubates eggs in its expansible globular nest, fastened securely with spider webs and decorated with lichens:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at nest 2-20150407

One of my most sought-after spring arrivals, a Scarlet Tanager some distance away, completes the color wheel:

Scarlet Tanager 3- edit 20150514

A Northern Cardinal also represents the red faction...

Northern Cardinal 3-20150424 does a "fractionally" red Red-winged Blackbird...

Red-winged Blackbird in flight 20150515

...and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3-20150513

The older of our two Illinois granddaughters helps me spot orioles in the trees along the path at Hawk's Bluff Park in Batavia:

Graci 20150514

She points out a moth she found on the car window, unwittingly giving me my only image of a reflection:

Graci2 20150514

The moth is a Hydriomena species, thanks to ID by Facebook friends:

Hydriomena Moth 20150514

To her delight, we get good looks at several Baltimore Orioles:

 Baltimore Oriole in oak tree 20150514

Baltimore Oriole 20150515

It is a bit surprising that I have not yet run out of my favorites for our Illinois stay, such as this Great Blue Heron on the shoals of the Fox River...

Great Blue Heron HDR 20150518

...a Swainson's Thrush...

Swainson's Thrush 2-20150513

...a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle...

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle - Cicindela sexguttata 20150429

 ...lots of flowers, such as this Wake Robin in full bloom...

Wake Robin 20150514

...Nodding Onion...

Nodding Onion 2-20150517

...a Dandelion seed head...

Dandelion seed head 20150513

I must stop somewhere, but I want to show Tex some favorite fences, the "good," which surrounds Hickory Knolls Discovery Center and borders the road to the correctional institution...

Hickory Knolls correctional facility entrance 20150515

...and the "bad," for those inside:

Illinois Youth Center 2-20150515

We must end on an exuberant and happy note, to celebrate the birds...

White-crowned Sparrow 20150511

...the bees...

Beehives at Hickory Knolls 2150515

...the bridges...

Mill Creek bridge2 HDR 20150517

...and the brooks...

Mill Creek HDR 20150517

...the flowers...

Blue phlox 20150512

...and the fields:

Nelson Lake east entry HDR 20150512

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


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


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring migration is underway

We endured a wet and windy two weeks in Chicagoland until weather conditions changed to favor northbound migrants. Finally, the clouds disappeared, and we visited Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh Forest Preserve in Batavia. However, the northerly wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour nearly knocked us over and drove the birds into hiding. The trees had not yet leafed out as we walked to the observation platform at the edge of the lake, on April 28:

Nelson Lake HDR 20150428

 Although winds abated for a while, the next day we had similarly bad luck along the shores of the Fox River at Lippold Park:

Fox River to south HDR 20150429

While waiting for the sunshine, we did take advantage of breaks in the rain to visit the Bald Eagle nest only about a mile from our second home. This is the second nest that they have occupied, both on the grounds of the Mooseheart residential school. The first nest, initially occupied in 2005, collapsed in 2013 before the two eaglets were ready for flight. An attempt to replace the nest with a platform in an adjacent tree was not accepted and the young birds grounded themselves for a second time. They were captured and successfully rehabilitated.

Here they are at the first nest in June, 2010:

Adult over nest 20100604

Our two Illinois granddaughters observed the first nest, back in 2012:

Nietas watching eagles 2-20121118

The next year the pair relocated and successfully raised three eaglets:

Mooseheart three eaglets 20140521

The nest tree is in the center of a paved parking lot (taken May 24, 2014 -- note the green foliage):

Bald Eagle nest 20140521

Bald Eagles DETAIL 20150429

This year they were reported to have three young, but so far I could see only one. I am concerned about the apparent declining health of the nest tree, here photographed on April 27, 2015:

Bald Eagle on nest 20150427

One of the adults feeds an eaglet:

Bald Eagle feeding eaglet on nest 20150427

Bald Eagle on nest 3-20150427

By May 7, the eldest of the three owlets at Fabyan Park in Geneva had fledged, and the larger of its two younger siblings seemed almost ready to fly:

Great Horned Owl owlets 3-20150507

Great Horned owlet Portrai 20150507

GHO owlet HDR 20150507

I did not obtain a good view of the oldest owl, high in an adjacent oak tree:

Great Horned Owl owlet 2-20150507

One of the parents roosted just under the newly fledged youngster:

Great Horned Owl adult 2-20150507

At Hickory Knolls nature center in St. Charles, a male Eastern Bluebird rested on a nest box:

Bluebird HDR 20150501

At Bliss Woods Nature Preserve in Sugar Mound, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were busily constructing the foundation of their spherical nest of lichens and spider silk:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at nest in progress 20150502

Color has returned to the preserve, notably...

Baltimore Orioles...

Baltimore Oriole 20150502 early Warbling Vireo...

Warbling Vireo 2-20150506

(Anni take note-- here is my "carbon copy" of your Warbling Vireo!)

Warbling Vireo 20150506

..and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4-20150502

Listen to the grosbeak's energetic song. If the video fails to load in the space below, CLICK HERE:

More wildflowers! I was waiting to see the Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria:

Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria 20150502

Phlox - Phlox divaricata:

 Phlox - Phlox divaricata 20150502

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


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