Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crops & Clips:Reclusive rails

Jones Meadow is a small "pocket" park within walking distance of our condo in NE Illinois.

Jones Meadow Park Batavia

It includes a variety of habitats. Near the entrance is a playground and then a pond which occupies about 5 acres: 

Jones Meadow Park 2-20160426

A marsh area about the same size is separated from the pond by a levee: 

Jones Meadow Park Wetlands2- MAR 17 2010

A paved trail leads about 3/4 mile along a strip of woods and wetlands. The entire park occupies about 30 acres and is entirely surrounded by houses, roads and cornfields:

Jones Meadow HDR 20150506

The old barn in the distance was a favored subject, but it has since been torn down to make way for more construction at the periphery of the park:

Jones Meadow Park HDR 20150709

Old Barn HDR 20130904

During my usually brief visits over the years I have observed 59 species of birds in this little park, not a very impressive total unless you weigh this against the minimal effort expended in my search. 

This spring, shortly after arriving in Illinois, I visited the wetlands in search of two rail species, Sora and Virginia Rail. I heard and caught fleeting glimpses of a Sora, but was lucky when a Virginia Rail appeared. It can be difficult to see amid the cattails:

Virginia Rail HDR 04-20160503

Virginia Rail HDR 03-20160503

Virginia Rail HDR 01-20160503

A Mallard eyed me suspiciously and then took flight:

Mallard HDR 20160502

Mallard in flight HDR  2-20160502

A Great Blue Heron foraged along the shore of the pond:

Great Blue Heron 02-20160502

The reflections of a Great Egret and two female Mallards were distorted by the breeze:

Great Egret with Mallards 20150918

A Muskrat nibbled on greenery:

Muskrat 2-20160502

Two Tree Swallows seemed to be disputing over ownership of the park:

Property dispute 20130509

When the winds let up, a Pied-billed Grebe reflected nicely:

Pied-billed Grebe 20150831

Overhead, Sandhill Cranes circled as if intending to land...

Sandhill Cranes HDR 01-20160502

Sandhill Crane HDR 03-20160502

...but continued on their way:

Sandhill Crane overhead HDR 20160502

My archives include over 500 photos taken in Jones Meadow Park. The earliest date back to 2008, when I started taking photos with my first DSLR, a first-generation 6.3 megapixel Canon EOS Digital Rebel 300D. A bicycle staged in a back yard along the trail provided the opportunity for me to do a bit of creative photo processing:

Bicycle ENAMEL 20150831

During a visit at sunset, a Great Horned Owl was silhouetted against the sky:

Owl at sunset 20130906

When younger, our Granddaughters begged to accompany us to the park:

Graci in JMP Playground- 20090429

Cari 3-20110817

An American Robin stood guard over the playground:

American Robin at playground HDR 20160501

New England Asters appeared along the path in August:

New England Asters 20150831

Bee Balm bloomed in the meadow:

Bee Balm flowers 20130709

Thanks so much for visiting! I will be on the road for the next couple of weeks and often away from WiFi and even out of cellular range. Mary Lou and I are celebrating our 56th Wedding Anniversary! Tending to my blog from a cellphone does not work out very well, so I have put my posts on "autopilot" in the interim, but promise to visit you as soon as possible when I get back to my PC.


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

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


  1. Hello Ken, another great post and wonderful photos. I like the rail and the cute muskrat. Your granddaughters are cuties. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

  2. 'pocket park' - i like that. loved its rural setting. shame about the barn. beautiful watery photos, ken. thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing photos. I love the American Robin and the Muskrat. Muskrats threaten the safety of the Dutch dikes. Therefore, these rats are slain in our country.

  4. so many wonderful images. i'd love walking along Jones Meadow seeing all this wildlife. it would make my heart sing. hope all is well. have a great day~

    Happy 56th Anniversary~

  5. awwww lovely park for a stroll

    Enjoyed your photos. So hot down here, I won't be doing much hiking for a while

  6. Hi Kenneth Once again an excellent array of gorgeou bird photographs. The flight one are marvellous adn I love that you were able to get hot of the Rail. I also am impressed with your creative ide that we do not often see. I adore love the ihn with the disputing Swallows. Thanks for sharing such lovley images and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Great post- love all the bird shots and I can imagine how much fun you had with your grands at the park. This looks like a wonderful place for a stroll, with lots of photo ops.

  8. Very enjoyable post. - Some nice fences. It's a shame they tore that barn down. - Enjoyed all the birds. I especially liked the shot with the birds on the Private Property Sign. Also the owl and your edited bicycle shot. So good that the grands enjoy going to these parks.

  9. Lovely views and I especially like the barn.

  10. Your photos are superb. What a great place for birdwatching.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  11. These are some wonderful photos from your visit with so much to see! The overhead shots are nicely done.

  12. Marvelous images!
    Thank you for ssharing at

  13. What captivating images!! I love the muskrat image in particular :)

    Wishing you a great weekend :)

  14. Great post and photos. Happy Anniversary!

  15. Hello, you do have action packed outings and great sightings. Love all the birds and images. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  16. a beautiful park. its a shame they tore the old barn down, it looks like it had lots of character.

  17. It does look a rather birdy spot - love the arguing birds!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. Fantastic. Each and every photo. I remember one of your granddaughters, Graciela....but I don't think I've ever learned your other g-daughter's name.

    Too bad about the barn having to be torn down. A beautiful, scenic area Ken. And great birds.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to share this post with all us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week. It's always appreciated.

  19. Hello Ken!:) It's always so enjoyable to visit you and see all your beautiful photographs. There is so much to see and admire here. I especially like your Sandhill Crane images, and the beautiful Sora Rail shots. The pretty birds on the signs, and the portraits of your granddaughters having fun. I wish you both a very happy 56th wedding Anniversary, and have a good time away.:)

  20. Great series of shots, KCS.

    I love those two arguing swallows!

  21. 30 acres is pretty substantial, though it's still amazing you spotted 59 species. That owl silhouette is exceptional (it would make a great album cover). One of the image-in-ing linkers had a dove question you may be able to answer over here:

  22. Nice photos. Hope you'll continue to link up fresh posts at

  23. Fantastic collection of good photos. And those swallows sure seem to have a lot to say to each other :)

    R. Täysin arkista

  24. Beautiful photos, the ones of the three Cranes, the Owl, and the Swallows are amazing, great shots!

  25. Beautiful birds! And such sweet girls!

  26. Great photos!
    Congratulations on your anniversary!

  27. A super array of birds. Really like the Rail pictures though. Never easy to get.

  28. Wonderful photos from the pocket park. I, too, love the arguing swallows.


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