Thursday, May 11, 2017

Birding in a pocket park

Jones Meadow Park is located only a few blocks away from our second home in NE Illinois. It is surrounded by development but is a quiet oasis with remarkably varied habitats, including manicured lawns with ornamental shrubbery, woodlands, a pond, wet meadows and marshes. 

This is one of my favorite photos of the area, taken in June of last year:

Jones Meadow pond HDR 20160628

A paved pathway winds around the south and western edges of the wetlands, and a grassy berm separates the pond from the marsh. 

It was my first stop, on the morning after we flew in from Florida. In this view near the entrance (taken a few days later), the berm occupies the opposite shore:

Jones Meadow lake 20170407

The marsh had flooded up over the pathway, and attracted an American Robin in search of drowning worms:

American Robin 04-20170502

A House Finch sang from the top of a little tree:

House Finch 04-20170502

Another House Finch was joined by an (out-of-focus) Yellow-rumped Warbler in a small shrub:

House Finch 03-20170502

Song Sparrows were abundant:

Song Sparrow 20170503

A female Eastern Bluebird perched near the path:

Eastern Bluebird female 04-20170502

A male Mallard paddled in the pond:

Mallard drake 20170502

Migrating Canada Geese flew overhead, as did three Sandhill Cranes, calling loudly:

Sandhill Cranes 2-20170502

It was cold and drizzling with the threat of heavier storms, so I hurried up and along the berm with one objective in mind. I wanted to see two species of rails, the Sora and Virginia Rail.

In my haste I almost overlooked a Green heron among the dried reeds:

Green Heron 01-20170502

Marsh birds tend to be secretive, and they take advantage of the abundant vegetation. This Swamp Sparrow was barely visible through the dried cattails:

Swamp Sparrow 20170502

As I walked along the berm I heard a Sora calling, but only caught a glimpse of the reclusive creature:

Sora 3-20170503

Sora 20170503

However, to my surprise, a Virginia Rail appeared at the edge of the cattails:

Virginia Rail eBird 20170503

It briefly walked out into the open. I found it almost impossible to focus the camera because of intervening high grasses and reeds. This was the best image out of my dozen or more attempts:

Virginia Rail eBird doc 20170502

A second Virginia Rail called from a grassy patch at the edge of the berm:

Virginia Rail eBird 2-20170503

The rain picked up and I returned to the car. That might have been the end of this story, but Mary Lou and I returned 5 days later on a much nicer morning and did get better views and photos of the rail:

Virginia Rail 02-20170507

Virginia Rail 01-20170507

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


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



  1. What a beautiful place to live, what beautiful birds and what magnificent photos.
    Congratulations, Mr. Kenneth, and thank you for sharing with us.


  2. A wonderful series of bird photos!
    The Green Heron is my favorite
    Glad you found the birds you were looking for
    Hope you are having a great day!

  3. An absolutely gorgeous and delightful series that has brought me much joy, Kenneth. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. It is amazing what you can find in those little run-off tanks

  5. Well, my favorite is the Green Heron. But, there are so many to choose from. You do so well with the photography.

  6. Beautiful collection of pics, extraordinary the variety

  7. Thanks for sharing your birds-everywhere-you-go life! Wonder if that Green Heron followed you from Florida (;>))? We heard a sora at Wakodahatchee last week -- sure couldn't see it. It was the same kind of difficult to take pictures of because of reeds and stuff -- great habitat but hard for an amateur photographer/birder. (But I'll take that -- was just glad to see the birds).

  8. Your fence shot was really pretty. - So many different birds. I loved the cranes flying.

  9. What a lovely landscape and birds. I like the Green Heron.
    And the reflection is beautiful.

  10. What beautiful pictures! Those 3 birds flying with the white sky background are amazing. :)

  11. Beautiful bird pictures; enjoyed them all. Alana

  12. Beautiful images, each one so crisp and sharp. Thank you.

  13. Gorgeous, fascinating series of photos. Love the perspectives of the little song sparrow and the heron.

  14. Great bird shots and a really beautiful landscape. Thanks for showing us.

  15. Awesome Virginia Rail! Beautiful birds all...great shots! What a wonderful place to bird!

  16. Beautiful park with such lovely birds.

  17. Lovely photos! I especially like the composition of the top one.

  18. It takes a lot of talent (and patience!) to get such nice pics of birds!

  19. A wonderful series of shots.

  20. Beautiful banner. Love the lovely landscape. Great critters shots. Have a beautiful week!

  21. Great series! I love the Sora and Rail!
    I am still running a little behind visiting my critter links! Thanks so much for linking up, have a great new week ahead!

  22. Absolutely wonderful!! First of all to have this scene in your 'back yard' community is great. And to have all the variety of bird life nearby like this...awesome.
    I am especially fond of the crested little green heron shot!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend...and hope you have a joyous week ahead!

  23. What a fabulous oasis in the city! I love all the different birds you found.

  24. It's amazing to catch sight of a bird that's perfectly still...and camouflaged! We almost missed a night heron on our last hike. Love seeing those Cranes in the air! Enjoy your week!

  25. Hi Kenneth sorry I have not been commenting as I have been away twice and then have found life is very busy here but I still enjoy our posts very much and this one is as wonderful as all the others. Thanks for sharing such beautiful through your photographs.

  26. Hello Ken!:) What a wonderful selection of marsh birds. You did well to photograph them amongst the tall reeds. I love the images of the Swamp Sparrow, the Green heron, and the flight shot of the Sandhill Cranes. Thank you for sharing!:)

  27. Beautiful birds. Are they the kind that sing at the crack of dawn every single day? If so, we have them here as well, only not so pretty.

  28. Each image made me smile, so wonderful your photography! Gorgeous birds to see and enjoy here~

  29. Précieuses photos ;-)
    Céline & Philippe


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