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.
While Mary Lou supervised the children I broke away to capture this Red-tailed Hawk in flight.
The calls of a White-breasted Nuthatch caught my attention.
A male Mallard lounged in a quiet corner of the creek.
American Robins were already building their nests.
Daffodils were in bloom.
Wake Robin (Trillium) buds were ready to open.
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.
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.
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.
One of the parent owls dozed high in a nearby tree.
A blue carpet of Scilla covered the floor of the open woodland.
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.
We later brought the girls over to see the owls. The chick flew from the nest that very night.
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.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are among the earliest and most numerous spring arrivals. They were everywhere.
Arriving Sandhill Cranes flew high above.
I caught this Yellow Warbler as it hover-gleaned in the junipers.
At Les Arends there were more Yellow-rumps hunting for insects on the lawns.
Song Sparrows joined the warblers.
I could not resist this photo-op with a Black-capped Chickadee.