Saturday, May 4, 2013

Catching up with migration in Illinois

We are back in Illinois and hoping to catch up with the northbound migrants that failed to visit our Florida neighborhood. Migration in southeastern Florida has been much quieter in spring than in the autumn, generally due to the prevailing southeasterly winds that steer migrants from Cuba towards the west coast and often allow them to continue non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico. We also departed Florida a bit ahead of the peak warbler migration.

Northern Illinois experienced record rainfall during the months of March and April. This broke the serious drought conditions that prevailed last year and caused massive crop failures. Now the farmers are concerned because their fields are too wet to permit planting of corn. Flooding and storms interfered with flight schedules, but we enjoyed fair skies on the first few days at our second home.

Suffering from "cabin fever," our granddaughters could not wait to get out on a "bird hike" with us, so we brought them to local Hawk's Bluff Park in Batavia on the morning after we arrived. As it turned out, model race cars and swing sets provided them with a much more interesting pastime, but it was great just being outside.

Cari 20130421

Graci with model race car 20130421

Graci with model race car 3-20130421

While Mary Lou supervised the children I broke away to capture this Red-tailed Hawk in flight.

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20130421

The calls of a White-breasted Nuthatch caught my attention.

White-breasted Nuthatch 2-20130421

A male Mallard lounged in a quiet corner of the creek.

Mallard COREL 20130424

American Robins were already building their nests.

American Robin 20130425

Daffodils were in bloom.

Daffodil COREL 20130424

Wake Robin (Trillium) buds were ready to open.

Wake Robin COREL 2-20130424

A stop at neighboring Jones Meadow Park was a disappointment. Flood waters had receded about three feet but still blocked the path and engulfed the woodlands.

Jones Meadow Park flooding 2-20130421

The next morning was a school day. It dawned bright, but windy and chilly (by Florida standards). Mary Lou and I headed for one of our favorite spots, Nelson Lake/Dick Young Kane County Forest Preserve in Batavia. We knew that we were a week or so ahead of the expected arrival of warblers, but we got great views of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet COREL 2-20130422

Ruby-crowned Kinglet COREL 20130422

We went on to visit Fabyan West Forest Preserve in Geneva, where we got to see the Great Horned Owl nestling that has attracted much attention. Here the owlet stares at an airplane as it passes overhead.

 Great Horned Owlet watching airplane20130422

One of the parent owls dozed high in a nearby tree.

Great Horned Owl COREL  20130424

A blue carpet of Scilla covered the floor of the open woodland.

Scilla blooming at Fabyan FP COREL  20130422

Several warblers foraged on the ground, probably because of the high winds. Among them was this Pine Warbler, usually found exploring the tips of pine trees.

Pine Warbler COREL 2-20130424

We later brought the girls over to see the owls. The chick flew from the nest that very night.

Great Horned Owlet 2-20130426

We capped off our first week in Illinois with visits to nearby Les Arends Preserve and Lippold Park, where numerous Tree Swallows flitted overhead. This one posed nicely, showing off its electric blue plumage.

Tree Swallow 20130425

Yellow-rumped Warblers are among the earliest and most numerous spring arrivals. They were everywhere.

Yellow-rumped Warbler 20130425

Arriving Sandhill Cranes flew high above.

Sandhill Cranes overhead 20130425

I caught this Yellow Warbler as it hover-gleaned in the junipers.

Yellow Warbler in flight 20130425

At Les Arends there were more Yellow-rumps hunting for insects on the lawns.

Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20130427

Song Sparrows joined the warblers.

Song Sparrow 20130427

I could not resist this photo-op with a Black-capped Chickadee.

Black-capped Chickadee 20130427


  1. all wonderful, again! the owl and owlet are awesome! but that tiny kinglet was really displaying for you!

  2. Ken, beautiful birds and a great post! The Warblers are gorgeous birds and I love the owls. Awesome photos!

  3. Oh my....if I had to choose a favorite, it'd be the kinglet!!

  4. Wow! Spectacular birds in motion shots! All of these are great. We have owls here, but I don't know if I'll ever get a photo of one of them. They are very stealthy here. :-)

  5. a lovely time shared with the younger ones; I love the photos of the birds you saw, such variety, thanks for sharing

  6. Wow Ken, so many birds! All terrific shots, love that little Kinglet!

  7. My son would be with the cars, I'd be with the birds, my daughter would flit between both and my wife would try to keep track of us all!


    Stewart M - Melbourne

  8. Beautiful sequence!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  9. So many, many, many beautiful birds! Odd how like and unlike you mallards are from ours. Love that first shot of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, very expressive look in it's eye and the bluebell wood is a dream. I hope you post a shot of the Triium in flower later. Great thrill to see the owls and young, especially the adult with that bored facial expression. A much appreciated post.

  10. What an attractive bird the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is! and those owlets are so cute!

  11. You really have some nice shots. Especially the last owl one.

  12. You got some nice cooperation from the birds! Wonderful series! Hope your stay is a good one, Ken.
    Love that Kinglet display!

  13. Lovely series. I like the owls and the hawks most.


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