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


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Green Cay and Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Our visit to two of the famous birding locations in West Palm Beach County started at Green Cay Wetlands. It was a beautiful clear morning, without a cloud in sight. This is the boardwalk that leads out into the wetlands from the Nature Center. 

Green Cay wetlands HDR 20150212

Green Cay boardwalk HDR 20150212

Green Cay HDR 20150212

The birding action started even before we set foot on the boardwalk, with an abundance of Painted Buntings at the feeders along the path to the Nature Center:

Painted Bunting male 20150212

A young Anhinga preened, oblivious to human presence. In the wetlands near our home there are so few people that this species is particulary wary:

Anhinga preening 20150212

Along the boardwalk , this pair of Blue-winged Teal was one of many:

Blue-winged Teal 20150212

A Green Heron hunted so close by that I had to back up to fit it in the viewfinder:

Green Heron 20150212

Pied-billed Grebes dived and swam under the boardwalk:

Pied-billed Grebe 20150212

An American Bittern stood stark still for a long time, emitting soft calls of alarm. Another photographer pointed out that it was reacting to the danger posed by a Northern Harrier that was sitting, hidden deep in the grass only a few feet away:

American Bittern 20150212

The light caught the subtle rusty feathers on a Cattle Egret's head:

Cattle Egret 20150212

A blue-eyed Double Crested Cormaorant posed:

Double-crested Cormorant 20150212

A Red-winged Blackbird sang and displayed on the boardwalk railing:

Red-winged Blackbird 2-20150212

On a snag, a White Ibis provided a nice photo-op:

White ibis on snag 20150212

In the trees on the islands between the boardwalks, we saw warblers, including a Palm Warbler...

Palm Warbler 2-20150212

...Pine Warblers...

Pine Warbler 20150212

...Yellow-rumped Warblers...

Yellow-rumped Warbler 20150212

...and an Orange-crowned Warbler:

Orange-crowned Warbler poss 20150212

We moved on to Wadokahatchee Wetlands, where there were the nests of many herons, Anhingas, cormorants and storks. 

There may have been as many as 12 pairs of Wood Storks, which have practically abandoned their historic breeding grounds to the south:

Wood Storks nesting 20150212

The storks competed with Anhingas for space in a single tree:

Wood Storks nesting 2-20150212

There were many nesting Great Blue Herons:

Great Blue Heron 20150212

A Great Egret arranged a stick in its nest (an Anhinga chick is in the foreground):

Great Egret at nest 20150212

The male Great Egret in this nest exhibits the green face and the nearly black upper mandible that appear at the height of breeding condition:

Great Egrets at nest 2-20150212

A Snowy Egret:

Snowy Egret 2-20150212

One of many Purple Gallinules:

Purple Gallinule 2-20140212

There were numerous Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, which became abundant here only a couple of years ago:

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks 3-20150212

Perhaps the most spectacular bird at Wadokahatchee was this Roseate Spoonbill. I loved its pink reflection:

Roseate Sponbill 03-20150212

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