Thursday, October 19, 2017

Little kings crowned and bejeweled

The final week of our "warm season" stay in Illinois drew to a close a bit earlier than in most years. We missed the peak of autumn color. It was forecast to be much more subdued this year because of the late-summer drought.

A few maples, at nearby Lippold Park in Batavia, stood out among the oaks...

Lippold Park color 2-20171009

...and one accented the pavillion:

Lippold Park pavillion 20171002

Usually our schedule permits us the opportunity, not only to witness the end of fall migration, but to see a variety of other northern "target" land bird species which spend their winters in NE Illinois. 

I hoped to see Fox Sparrows which usually arrive late in October, but which have posed for photos as early as October 7. Slate-colored Juncos and Purple Finches become abundant after mid-October.  Red-breasted Nuthatches are irregular migrants and may suddenly show up as early as August. American Tree Sparrows, Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings usually wait until November, although any of these birds might appear a month or more earlier. So far I had not seen any of the aforementioned species.

We had a lovely walk at Bliss Woods preserve in Sugar Grove, but saw few birds. Blackberry Creek provided a nice fence and reflection:

Blackberry Creek 02-20170919

Rain and family committments limited the opportunities for birding as our departure approached. Rather than focus on failure, let's talk about what we did see in early October. Among the warblers were...

Nashville Warbler:

Nashville Warbler 20171009

Black-throated Green Warbler:

Black-throated Green Warbler 01-20171009

Black-throated Green Warbler 03-20171009

The arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers signals that the end of migration is approaching:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 01-20171010

As expected, some of the earlier-arriving northern sparrows were present, including the White-throated Sparrow...

White-throated Sparrow 04-20171005

...and White-crowned Sparrow. This is an immature:

White-crowned Sparrow immature 20171009

Speaking of crowns, the highlights of our final week were flocks of two kinglet species. They are very active and tiny and difficult to photograph as they flit among the leaves.  

The female Golden-crowned Kinglet has a yellow cap:

Golden-crowned Kinglet 03-20171010

Male Golden-crowned Kinglets have varying amounts of red in the center of the patch:

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 06-20171008

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 08-20171008

The red feathers may be retracted and become barely visible, as in this male:

Golden-crowned Kinglet male 01-20171010

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were present among the Golden-crowns. The males erect a red crest when excited or displaying to females or rivals, but they seem to be more placid during fall migration:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 02-20171010

Here is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet displaying this May, at almost the same spot in Nelson Lake preserve:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 01-20170507

My first photo of the precious ruby crown was taken at Lippold Park in April, 2010:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2-20100414


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

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

________________________________________________


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Illinois birds and landscapes

With our stay in NE Illinois drawing to a close, we have spent limited time in the field. Badly needed rain showers also "dampened" our plans. 

A visit to Hannaford Woods preserve in Sugar Grove yielded a sought-after Red-headed Woodpecker, though it was not very cooperative. It spent all its time high in the treetops looking down at us:

Red-headed Woodpecker 03-20170925

Red-headed Woodpecker 04-20170925

A Magnolia Warbler posed nicely in a natural halo of bokeh created by a break in the canopy:

Magnolia Warbler 04-20170925

The barn at Hannaford is such an interesting subject. I rendered its image as an oil painting (Click on image for more detail):

Hannaford Barn OIL 01-20170925

At nearby Nelson Lake preserve... 

Nelson Lake east entry sign 20170926

...a Black-capped Chickadee welcomed us:

Black-capped Chickadee 01-20170926

A male Eastern Bluebird stood guard near the entrance path:

Eastern Bluebird 20171005

Autumn colors were subdued, but the play of shapes and colors along the entrance path begged for an impressionistic interpretation (Again, click to see the painterly effect)...

Nelson Lake east entry OIL 20170917

...as did a bright patch of goldenrod under a lone tree on the prairie:

Nelson Lake prairie OIL 20170917

An Orange-crowned Warbler foraged among weed stems...

Orange-crowned Warbler 04-20171005

...and then flew to a small tree to get a better look at us:

Orange-crowned Warbler 07-20171005

A Tennessee Warbler posed in good light:

Tennessee Warbler 01-20171005

A  foot bridge, dedicated to Audubon, spans the creek at Nelson Lake...

Audubon Bridge 03-20171001

...but two months without rainfall have left it dry. Animal tracks punctuate the muddy course:

Dry creek with deer tracks 06-20171001

A Sandhill Crane hunted in a field near the preserve:

Sandhill Crane 01-20171005

A small flock of bluebirds included this young male, not quite adorned in full adult plumage:

Eastern Bluebird 03-20171001

We walked in Jones Meadow, the "pocket park" only a few blocks from our condo in North Aurora. Homes reflect on the surface of its pond:

Jones Meadow Park pond reflections 20170924

A Great Blue Heron roosted in a tree nearby:

Great Blue Heron 20170924

At Hawk's Bluff, another small park just doors from our daughter's home in Batavia, we found more chickadees:

Black-capped Chickadee 3-20170928

Black-capped Chickadee 2-20170928

A White-breasted Nuthatch followed its upside-down instincts:

White-breasted Nuthatch 01-20170928

It was rewarded with a juicy titbit hidden in the bark under a crooked branch-- maybe it was a nut stored there by a squirrel or jay:

White-breasted Nuthatch 03-20170928

White-throated Sparrows had arrived from northern breeding grounds:

White-throated Sparrow 20171002

A resident Song Sparrow even sang a few notes:

Song Sparrow 01-20171002

A Cooper's Hawk kept the small birds in hiding at Lippold Park in Batavia:

Cooper's Hawk 01-20171002

Gathering clouds cluttered the sky over the twin oaks at Nelson Lake. Much-needed rain was indeed on the way!

Twin Oaks at Nelson Lake 20171005

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

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


________________________________________________

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Crops & Clips: Flashback to October, 2014

This has become a habit of mine, to look back at photos I took three years ago. It may be boring to some, but it helps me to remember the good times past and anticipate the sights which may greet us this October as we venture out into Illinois parks and back to our south Florida Everglades remnant preserve, our "Wounded Wetland." 

To add some interest to my quest, I will try to include some favorite memes-- wild critters (especially birds), skies, reflections, fences, signs of the season, and scenes which speak for themselves.

We spent the first three weeks of October, 2014 at our second home in NE Illinois, missing the best of south Florida's warbler migration but enjoying the clear weather and cool temperatures. (This year we plan to get back to Florida a week earlier to celebrate the QuinceaƱera of the daughter of our son-in-law's first cousin in Miami.) 

Lippold Park, in Batavia, IL was adorned in fall colors:

Lippold Park 07-20141017

We got to welcome some winter birds, many of which do not visit south Florida. Yellow-rumped warblers arrived early in the month. In Florida they are among the last to appear and signal the end of warbler migration:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 2-20141007

White-throated Sparrows had arrived from northern breeding grounds:

White-throated Sparrow 20141009

White-throated Sparrow 3-20141009

White-crowned Sparrows visited our daughter's feeders and rested on the deck railing. This is an adult:

White-crowned Sparrow 10-20141010

First-year White-crowned Sparrows have brown and dull gray rather than black and white head stripes:

White-crowned Sparrow 06-20141010

Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared. In Florida we may see one or two some winters:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2-20141009

White-breasted Nuthatches are Illinois residents and are seen all winter, but they do move erratically southward and may be replaced by migrants or wanderers from the north. Few make it into south Florida:

White-breasted Nuthatch 20141016

Black-capped Chickadees were abundant. This is another resident species which may wander about unexpectedly in some winters. A very similar relative, the Carolina Chickadee, ranges into central Florida:

Black-capped Chickadee2 06-20141021

Canada Geese were moving south. Note the similar but much smaller Cackling Geese in the foreground:

Cackling Geese 20141022

On October 22 we encountered our first flock of Purple Finches. This is a female:

Purple Finch 02-20141022

After breeding season, American Goldfinches change from bright yellow into more somber garb:

American Goldfinch 20141009

Before departing for Florida we spent a long weekend of fun with our daughter and family at Sturgeon Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. It is located in far NE Wisconsin and straddles both sides of the inlet between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Our lodge was on the waterfront and we enjoyed beautiful sunsets:

Sturgeon Bay sunset 3-20141011

Sturgeon Bay Marina:

Sturgeon Bay marina 20141011

Beautiful split-rail fence at "The Farm" in Door County:

Split-rail fence 20141012

It was much colder up in Wisconsin:

Ken and Mary Lou at The Farm 20141012

October 26 found us back in Florida. We were out early the next morning and captured this Great Egret before sunrise as it lifted off:

Great Egret 20141027

While visiting Chapel Trail Nature Preserve I obtained this unusual photo of a pair of Purple (Gray-headed) Swamphens reflecting in the lake: 

Purple Swamphens 03-20141030

A Cattle Egret hunted for insects on a cow's back in the pasture next to Chapel Trail:

Cattle Egret on back of cow 20141030

Sadly, on October 30 I saw our local female Bald Eagle "Joy" for the last time before she disappeared and was never seen again. She was sitting rather deep in the nest, rearranging sticks while her mate "Pride" stood by:

 Bald Eagle pair at nest 02-20141030
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

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


________________________________________________