Thursday, April 30, 2015

Illinois birds: A robust robin and a little king

Two days after we left the fair skies of Florida behind. we arrived at our second home in NE Illinois.

Sunburst over the back gate:

 Sunburst HDR 20150416

 Clouds over the Everglades:

 Clouds over Everglades HDR 20150417

We were harshly greeted by cold, windy and wet weather. We ventured afield briefly in near-freezing temperatures and found that the dark skies and high winds rendered birding and photography nearly impossible. Staying in or near the car, my first shots were of a group of Northern Shovelers in a roadside pond.

Northern Shovelers 3-20150421

A Red-tailed Hawk kited motionless in the sky against the sharp headwind, with gusts over 40 MPH:

 Red-tailed Hawk 20150421

The buildings also stood still for the camera:

Barn Albumen 20150421  Barn2 Albumen 20150421 

After a sub-freezing night with snow flurries, the next day dawned bright, but the winds persisted. We got out to nearby Fabyan Park in Geneva, Illinois to see the nest of a Great Horned Owl with three owlets. 

Only two showed their faces:

 Great Horned Owls 20150422

Great Horned Owl 2 of 3 owlets 20150422

American Robins were special to me as a youngster in New Jersey, for they stirred hope that spring would soon arrive. They usually came in early March, but I still remember their early arrival on February 12, 1949, bird #18 on my first formal life list. On that same day I saw my first Redpoll, a species I would not see again until a trip to Alaska in 2011  :

We rarely see robins in our south Florida neighborhood. They may appear sporadically some winters for a few days as small bands or even huge migratory flocks, but they sometimes do not appear at all. Fabyan Park was full of them. This male was a particularly robust individual:

American Robin HDR 201500422

A colorful Yellow-rumped Warbler foraged on the path ahead of us:   

 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20150422

Our granddaughter helped me stock their backyard feeders, and they instantly attracted colorful Northern Cardinals...

Northern Cardinal 3-20150422

...joined by a male House Finch:

Northern Cardinal and House Finch 20150422

House Finch male 20150422

Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackle quickly helped deplete the seed:

Red-winged Blackbird 20150422

Common Grackle 20150422

Rain was predicted again, but we got out early to Lippold Park, where another Red-tailed Hawk soared above in circles:

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20150423

Stopping to photograph wildflowers, I had fallen behind Mary Lou. She called me excitedly to report her sighting of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with its bright head feathers extended. When I caught up to her, the kinglet's head was no longer adorned:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6-20150423

I took over a dozen photos, trying to catch at least a glimpse of its signature crown as it weaved through the understory, to no avail until suddenly it rewarded me!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3-20150423

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 20150423

During the past week the trees have started leafing out and wildflowers have appeared. Among the early flowers--


Bluebells -  Mertensia virginica 2-20150427

Blue Violets:

Blue Violet 20150427

Blue and White Violets:

Blue and white Violet 2-20150427

Spring Beauty:

Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica 2-20150423

Cutrleaf Toothwort:

Cutleaf Toothwort - Dentaria laciniata 20150423

White Trout Lily:

White Trout Lily - Erythronium albidum

And fittingly, a Wake Robin:

Wake Robin 20150429

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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


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



  1. Cracking post - and I do like that life list. I have lost almost all of the note books I had a kid - left them at home when I went to College and have not seem them since.

    Glad you liked my competition essay - I was a bit disappointed not to get anywhere in the comp - but not really surprised!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. Hello Ken, I just love the second sky shot, lovely..Cool shots of the owls..beautiful birds and awesome photos.. Have a happy day!

  3. Excellent...the whole group of images, Ken.

  4. happy illinois spring! love the bird shots. adorable little kinglet. i see golden-crowned here now and then but it's been years since i've seen a ruby-crowned. :) LOVE that opening shot. thanks, ken!

  5. Great series of photos beautiful skies, birds and flowers. The owls were my favorite.

  6. Wow - what glorious shots.

  7. What a stunning post - fantastic photos!! I love the Great Horned Owls - reminds of spring 2011 when we saw a family of them growing up at the lake. A wonderful experience.

  8. Absolutely amazing sights. A wonderful presentation.

  9. You got the crown of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet! I'd call that a successful birding day.

  10. Fabulous post and photos - but that shot of the "Clouds Over the Everglades" takes first prize!! :)

  11. HI Kenneth The Owls are gorgeous but really ALL the shots whether they are of birds or flowers are fabulous. I hope you settle quickly in this home.

  12. Oh wow so much to see here. Absolutely LOVED those Owl shots. - It's amazing that you still have records of your first bird sightings. I also loved the first two shots and congrats on that Kinglet sighting, what a cute bird.

  13. You are migrating along with the birds! I've never seen a robin e a Robin in Florida. . So common in the PNW but now when we go home , thet seem exotic.

  14. Wonderful collection of shot! I do like the opening sunburst shot... beautiful sky!!

  15. Enjoyed your photos very much

    ALOHA from Honolulu,

  16. A simply spectacular series of images, Kenneth. That shot of clouds over the Everglades is breath-taking and the owls just captivating - loved the one where Momma Owl has one eye open, and the other shot of owlet peeking over the tree bark! Beautiful - thank you for sharing your gift.

  17. I can't decide what I love the most...your incredible photos of the landscapes, of the birds or the flowers! They are ALL incredible! Loved seeing the page from your bird blog from your young years!

  18. I love your shots of the birds and flowers...superb photo of the robin. We helped to raise one once...years ago. You can read about it here:

  19. wow- excellent photos..Love the sunset/sunrise skies...and all your bird photos!! Great photo of the ruby crown...

  20. beautiful images but I love the two of the old buildings best.

  21. Wow too much to take in but really beautiful photo's. I like them much.

  22. Ken, just stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post.. Have a happy weekend!

  23. Wonderful photos! I love seeing all the birds and the flowers. The owls are fabulous.

  24. Hi Ken. Spring in Illinois has certainly provided you with a glorious selection of flora and birds.
    Fortunately our Robin species is with us all year round. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is similar to our Goldcrest AND still on my photo 'wanted list'.

  25. wow... absolutely amazing photos... The colourful birds , flowers and fantastic sky...Well done

  26. Wonderful collection of birds and flowers, Ken. The owl and owlets are amazing!

  27. All so beautiful!!! It was like I was there with you watching the clouds/sun and sky!! Rich colors.

    I like your charting....I do that too....but, yours looks much more a census!!! Well done.

    Excellent birds...and thankfully the buidlings DIDn't move for you.

  28. Wow... Stunning pictures! Thank you so much for sharing :)

  29. Such an amazing series! Your photos are fantastic!

  30. Impressive shots of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

  31. Really lovely photos - and what a great collection of birds!

  32. So many fantastic images. Really like the sky scenes and the American Robin.

  33. Beautiful post Ken. So much to see. That little kinglet is precious!

  34. So beautiful pictures, and the reflections on the second photo are gorgeous!

  35. Beautiful shots, Ken. Love the little owlets and the Kinglet's ruby crown.

  36. What a fabulous collection! Thoroughly enjoyed my visit!

  37. Love how you were able to catch the rays behind he cloud!

  38. nice photos,'Thats a good' article, i usually amazed with' this thing, i asked myself about this opinion, I wish You'll a better articles that can make another people impressive..don't make the article feel rigit and isn't interesting and poor, i like to read this' article and i think this is "good".thank you.

  39. It's really nice seeing all the owls nesting everywhere! They sure have had a great year. Those are beautiful photos. Spring is looking good over in your area:)

  40. We get those Shovelers just like you, but I would really like to the Robin you get, it looks fantastic.

  41. Great captures ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

  42. Beautiful birds and photos!


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