Rainy weather sidelined us for a couple of days during our second week in Illinois, but the month of May started out cool and clear. On May 2nd at 5:30 AM the Chicago weather radar images revealed massive migratory movement that filled the entire coverage circle. The base velocity display indicated birds were traveling due north. Ominous echoes moving in from the west portended the arrival of a storm system. The evidence of so many northbound birds reminded me of my New Jersey childhood birding days when, in early May the nearly leafless trees sometimes seemed to drip with the color of many species of warblers.
The prior day's birding had been promising. Within a couple of hours at Nelson Lake/Dick Young Forest Preserve I had recorded 38 bird species, among them my first-of-season (FOS) Black-throated Green and Nashville Warblers as well as Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush. I sighted all of these while standing in a small spot next to the creek that crosses the east path.
This is the "sit spot" that had been so productive the previous day. This morning promised to hold even more FOS's.
Black-throated Green Warbler
I was thrilled to get a good shot of a male Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler in full breeding plumage, something we usually do not see in South Florida.
I missed a photo of the Ovenbird, but this is a poor shot of a Nashville Warbler, for the record.
The Northern Waterthrush was more cooperative.
I was surprised to find a Lincoln's Sparrow, almost hidden in the leaf litter.
Nearby, a White-throated Sparrow explored under the shrubs, scratching noisely.
Mary Lou's brother from Florida was expected to arrive at Midway Airport around 8:30 AM, and she preferred to stay home to prepare for his visit. That weekend our daughter and her husband were to host over a hundred guests for our granddaughter's First Communion/Cinco de Mayo Party with a pig roast. Knowing there would be little time for hiking until after the weekend, I set out alone for Nelson's Lake at 7:00 AM, hoping for about an hour and a half of birding. Pulling into the parking lot I was greeted by the song of Eastern Meadowlarks.
I scanned the lake from the viewing platform. The lake was almost entirely dry in the fall, but snowmelt and the recent heavy rains had filled the lake. Few waterfowl were present, probably because nearly all the fish died off during the drought.
A White-crowned Sparrow foraged for green seeds next to the platform.
It was 60 degrees (F) and storm clouds were already gathering as I headed down the path along the east prairie.
American Robins formed small groups along the way.
A Savannah Sparrow sang from a trailside shrub.
I waited at the "sit spot" for over an hour as the weather deteriorated, and saw a few Yellow-rumps but no other warblers and certainly no more FOS sightings. A Northern Cardinal offered a bit of color.
Against the gray sky, A Canada Goose occupied a lonely "sit spot" atop the silo next to the parking lot as I departed. I wondered if he saw any FOS birds from his vantage point.
Although the next few days were occupied with family and friends, I did get a few choice photos from our daughter's back yard deck. The feeders were well-stocked, but this Black-capped Chickadee preferred to glean in the emerging leaves of one of their ornamental trees.
The feeders attracted scores of White-crowned Sparrows, many in full song.
The wrought iron fence railings framed this Savannah Sparrow.
A Red-tailed Hawk wheeled overhead.
A robin incubated eggs in a mud and straw nest, sheltered under the eaves on a downspout at the front corner of our daughter's home.
The Great Horned Owl fledged the day after I last photographed it in the nest at nearby Fabyan Park. Here it seems very interested in something directly under its perch.
The Wake Robins (Trillium) are opening their buds.
Blue Violets, the State Flower of Illinois, are now in bloom.