Saturday, October 11, 2014

Early Autumn in Illinois

Soon after we arrived to our second home in NE Illinois we enjoyed a delightful respite from the heat and humidity of south Florida. We visited a nearby sod farm, hoping to see some Buff-breasted Sandpipers along with a Upland Sandpiper that had appeared there in mid-August. 

Water tower2 20140925

We dipped on both, but did find three American Golden-Plovers as we scanned this extensive sod field.

Sod Farm 20140925

Two foraged together out in the open turf.

American Golden-Plovers 20140925

One allowed comparison of its size and shape to a Killdeer, also a member of the plover family.

American Golden-Plover 20140925

Another golden-plover appeared closer to the path.

American Golden-Plover 2-20140925

American Goldfinches had already changed into their drab winter plumage.

American Goldfinch 20140918

American Goldfinches 20140924

This male goldfinch retained some of its summer brilliance.

American Goldfinch 20141009

A Nashville Warbler joined the goldfinches on the goldenrod, now going to seed.

Nashville Warbler 20140918

Black-capped Chickadees were numerous but so restless that I had trouble keeping one in my viewfinder.

Black-capped Chickadee 20140918

A long-legged Palm Warbler flew up into a small tree, characteristically wagging its tail.

Palm Warbler 20140924

This Philadelphia Vireo was a nice find. The similar Warbling Vireo lacks the black line in front of its eye and bright yellow on its throat and central breast, quite evident in this photo.

Philadelphia Vireo 20140923

The beginning of October heralded the arrival of the Yellow-rumped Warblers, and signaled that fall warbler migration was drawing to a close. Suddenly the trees were alive with them.

Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20140925

Now it was time to await the arrival of the next wave of visitors, sparrows and finches from the north. Following up on a lead from a local birder, we visited nearby Prairie Green Preserve in Geneva, Illinois. 

We followed an indistinct path through the high grass and found the elusive Nelson's Sparrow at the edge of the marsh. This was my first opportunity to photograph this species.

Nelson's Sparrow 07-20140929

I was afraid to use my flash as it might frighten the bird, so shadows obscured its amazingly bright orange head and chest.

Nelson's Sparrow 09-20140929

Another target species was the Marsh Wren, which also had eluded my camera. I was not disappointed, as 4 or 5 flitted about in the cattails.

Marsh Wren 01-20140929

Marsh Wren 03-20140929

A Swamp Sparrow provided perhaps the best photos I have ever obtained of this species.

Swamp Sparrow 04-20140929

Swamp Sparrow 09-20140929

To top it off, a Lincoln's Sparrow appeared unexpectedly.

Lincolns Sparrow 20140929

The sparrow was "photo-bombed" by a Common Yellowthroat that popped up beside it in the cattails.

Lincolns Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat 20140929

Suffice it to say that this was a very satisfying visit despite the hundreds of nettles that we had to remove from our trousers and socks! 

A Clouded Sulphur butterfly on red clover, October 1st:

Clouded Sulphur on red clover 2-20141001

On October 4th it turned cold and we had snow flurries! Monarch butterfles endured the cold and appeared in good numbers as the morning sun warmed them on October 8th.

Monarch butterfly 20141008


  1. Another very enjoyable post. Loved the birds and butterflies. Have a great weekend!

  2. Absolutely fantastic, the birds are beautiful.

  3. lovely birds - several of which i've never seen - the nelson's sparrow is new to me!

  4. (and i loved the brick barn in the first shot, too)

  5. HI Gary You seem to be settling in to your 2nd home again and I see you have been out and about with your camera. You are great at captured the small birds, not always easy. Love that Little Wren. That was special and I loved both of the butterflies. The second one looks like stain glass. Have a great weekend.

  6. Fabulous photos! Looks like you had a great day. I love the little wren.

  7. Excellent....Excellent!! I applaud you. What a super, wonderful, array of such glorious birds!! I'm partial to the finch...but all are so worthy of notice.

    And, thanks for sharing the link today at I'd Rather B Birdin'

  8. Love the variety of birds! All were wonderful! I'm glad I can offer you some SW views since you no longer live in New Mexico. I enjoy seeing forests and streams and woodland birds and animals to remind me of Virginia and Alabama. I miss those areas. It is different here, but very interesting, that's for sure! I am enjoying photographing the area!

  9. Wonderful shots of the birds and butterflies. The finches are such sweet looking birds.

  10. Wonderful collection of birds. I love the different sparrows. And the Plovers. Great photos.

  11. Really very good pictures and a super post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  12. A wonderful collection of birds! Great!

  13. lovely selection of birds!

  14. What a great group of birds here. I love that little Marsh Wren, The Chickadees here have been so wary and restless that I've had a hard time photographing them.

  15. What a lovely series of shots! Autumn looks lovely where you are!

  16. A lot of great photography here! I like the Nashville Warbler shot, among others.

  17. You find great birds wherever you are. I tried commenting from my PC, but it wouldn't take my comment on your posts for some reason. So I'm using the IPad... Because both these posts are so lovely...not that you needed me to tell you that ))

  18. What a great day you had!! love them all .....


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