Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reverse Migration

Here in Illinois the offspring of the local Bald Eagles have just fledged. During the next 4-6 weeks they are expected to begin following their parents on fishing and hunting forays. By the time the cold weather arrives their proficiency should have improved to the point that they will strike out on their own. Depending upon the severity of the winter, they may move southward, joined by many more of their kind from the far northern reaches of the species' range, following along the Fox River to find open water, with many congregating downstream along the Illinois River to its confluence with the Mississippi River system.  

On May 18, one of the two eaglets was in the nest. It may have already fledged, but it is common for them return to the nest to be fed:

Bald Eagle and eaglet 20150517

 Bald Eagle feeding eaglet 2-20150517

The Bald Eagles that nested near our Florida home did not breed successfully this year. If they had, their young would just now be polishing their hunting skills in preparation for a migration in the opposite direction. As temperatures increase in the waters of Florida lakes, fish seek the cooler depths. Young eagles find it easier to see and catch fish in the cooler lakes and rivers to the north. Many move up the east coast to the Carolinas and the Chesapeake Bay area, and some have been tracked into the extreme northeastern US.

You may recall that the original male of the the pair lost his mate in late October, 2014, and found a new companion in early December. Although they mated, their union did not produce any young. They seem to have bonded very well. Curiously, they both continue to work on the nest, adding and rearranging sticks. See the latest reports and photos of this behavior by Luis, a faithful eagle watcher, at  THIS LINK

(Photo ©2015 LuisEagles)

We also are now heading the wrong way, flying back from Illinois to Florida, at least for a while, leaving what is left of the spring songbird migration behind us. Bad weather and lots of local travel and family events curtailed our time afield. Here are some photographic highlights of our stay in NE Illinois.

At Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh Forest Preserve in nearby Batavia, the grass had turned green and the trees were leafing out by the  middle of May:

 Nelson Lake HDR  20150515

A notable sighting at Nelson Lake on May 9 was a single Bobolink, the first reported in the county this season:

Bobolink 20150409

Bobolinks seem to have their plumage arranged the wrong way, as the undersides of most birds are lighter than their uppers. Posing on a fence post, the Bobolink demonstrates this feature very nicely:

Bobolink HDR 20150409

Yellow-rumped Warblers, early arrivals, were still moving through the treetops:

 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20150513

Common Yellowthroats are already staking out nesting territories on the prairie:

Common Yellowthroat 20150409

American Goldfinches, befitting their name, have molted into their brilliant breeding (alternate) plumage:

American Goldfinch 20150515

Yellow Warblers offer a more subtle but no less beautiful shade:

Yellow Warbler 3-20150518

I find it easy to overdose on Yellow Warbler photos:

Yellow Warbler singing 2-20150414

This first year male Orchard Oriole will take on a brick-red coat by next season:

 Orchard Oriole 1st yr male 20150518

An Eastern Meadowlark sings enthusiastically:

Eastern Meadowlark 3-20150409

A tad of yellow highlights the brow of a Savannah Sparrow:

Savannah Sparrow 20150518

While not sporting feathers, this early Eastern Tiger Swallowtail fits the theme as it probes the dandelions for nectar:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 3-20150515

Indigo Buntings represent another primary color:

Indigo Bunting singing 2-20150519

The clouds part momentarily, to allow a "blue-on-blue" portrait:

Indigo Bunting 20150519

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher incubates eggs in its expansible globular nest, fastened securely with spider webs and decorated with lichens:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at nest 2-20150407

One of my most sought-after spring arrivals, a Scarlet Tanager some distance away, completes the color wheel:

Scarlet Tanager 3- edit 20150514

A Northern Cardinal also represents the red faction...

Northern Cardinal 3-20150424 does a "fractionally" red Red-winged Blackbird...

Red-winged Blackbird in flight 20150515

...and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3-20150513

The older of our two Illinois granddaughters helps me spot orioles in the trees along the path at Hawk's Bluff Park in Batavia:

Graci 20150514

She points out a moth she found on the car window, unwittingly giving me my only image of a reflection:

Graci2 20150514

The moth is a Hydriomena species, thanks to ID by Facebook friends:

Hydriomena Moth 20150514

To her delight, we get good looks at several Baltimore Orioles:

 Baltimore Oriole in oak tree 20150514

Baltimore Oriole 20150515

It is a bit surprising that I have not yet run out of my favorites for our Illinois stay, such as this Great Blue Heron on the shoals of the Fox River...

Great Blue Heron HDR 20150518

...a Swainson's Thrush...

Swainson's Thrush 2-20150513

...a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle...

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle - Cicindela sexguttata 20150429

 ...lots of flowers, such as this Wake Robin in full bloom...

Wake Robin 20150514

...Nodding Onion...

Nodding Onion 2-20150517

...a Dandelion seed head...

Dandelion seed head 20150513

I must stop somewhere, but I want to show Tex some favorite fences, the "good," which surrounds Hickory Knolls Discovery Center and borders the road to the correctional institution...

Hickory Knolls correctional facility entrance 20150515

...and the "bad," for those inside:

Illinois Youth Center 2-20150515

We must end on an exuberant and happy note, to celebrate the birds...

White-crowned Sparrow 20150511

...the bees...

Beehives at Hickory Knolls 2150515

...the bridges...

Mill Creek bridge2 HDR 20150517

...and the brooks...

Mill Creek HDR 20150517

...the flowers...

Blue phlox 20150512

...and the fields:

Nelson Lake east entry HDR 20150512

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 I Heart Macro by Laura


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



  1. Hello Ken, gorgeous photos and lovely collection of birds. It is great to see your granddaughter is birding, we always like to see the younger generation enjoying the birds and wildlife. Have a happy day!

  2. First visit . . . absolutely beautiful photos of the Northern Illinois Bald Eagles and many birds . . . Several sightings of Bald Eagle are happening along the western Michigan shoreline near Muskegon in the past few weeks/days . . .
    I enjoyed your fence contrasts . . .

  3. WOW! Kenneth, another wonderful post adn lovely tosee your grand child so interested in birds/nature. A fantastic selection of birds in this post. My favoutie being the orioles. Love all the wild flowers, fences adn that reflection shot in the car window is very cool.

  4. Hi Ken - a dazzling series of photos - so glad I stumbled across your blog. I believe that Bobolink is my favorite today!! :)

  5. i would have a hard time leaving that midwestern lushness at this time of year. :) you found a wonderful colorwheel of birds, again. LOVE the bobolink! miss them from my wisconsin childhood when i'd escape thru the neighboring fields down to the creek. yes, both good and bad fences, but i guess the bad depends on which side you're on. :)

  6. Hi Ken.

    I just love all your pictures, fences, land,birds, pretty Granddaughter. So nice to come here and sit and look. You have everything that catches the eyes. Very observant photographer you are as you click away.

  7. I just totally love your photos...great bird photos. I seldom see baltimore orioles here at home, but used to at this place I worked. Of course, with working I did not have my camera with me. I love all the birds...and love that bridge shot. And the last shot has an awesome sky.

  8. Beautiful shots of beautiful birds, Ken. Good to see your have grandbirdwatchers, too!

  9. It's always a sweet journey through your amazing photos. All the birds are such a delight to see. I love the Eagles and the pretty yellow birds. Also the Scarlet Tanger was lovely. So much to see here with gorgeous flowers, a neat reflection shot, and some great fences. The (good) was so pretty and the (bad) well it's sad but a necessary fencing.

  10. What a great selection of photos - how lucky to have such a bumper crop of birds in such a dazzling array of colors!

  11. Scrolling through your beautiful photos is a delight. I had to pause and marvel at that wonderful piece of construction that is the Gnatcatcher's nest.

  12. Such lovely photos! Your bird shots are extraordinaire. I have never heard of a Bobolink - it looks beautiful I love Baltimore Orioles - here, we have Hooded Orioles which are beautiful as well. The Scarlet Tanager is fabulous! We don't have any real red birds here - the "reddest" are the purple finches and the house finches.

  13. What an amazing collection of photos, celebrating your time there! Wow! It was interesting to read about the birds (and your) reverse migration as well.

  14. Impressive sky and I love your bird photos

  15. Stunning sky shots and I love that oriole!

  16. Such beautiful flowers, and I love the pathways too.

  17. great series of nature images. love the rustic rail fence

  18. fabulous all the bird photos

  19. I came over to enjoy your skywatch post but stayed to enjoy all the great flora and fauna shots! Great post.

  20. Wow, thanks for sharing your outing! So many beautiful birds. Nice to have a grand daughter that is interested in it too:)

  21. Where is that bridge so lovely a walk such diversity in birds we do not have here

  22. Oh, my, I don't know where to start! From yellow, to blue, to red ... a story in colorful feathers, blooms and a grand-daughter birder/butterfly lover. YeeHaw! Happy Critter Day!

  23. Some fantastic looking birds there and butterflies too.

  24. Hello Ken, just stopping back to say thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  25. What a great array of colours - your warblers really do have some wonderful colours on them.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. What a fabulous collection of photos. I enjoyed seeing all the flowers and the birds. The eagles are magnificent birds.

  27. A joy-filled post! The Eagles making sure their nest is ready for next year,s fresh start. And then your beautiful collection of Illinois songbirds. I love the cheerful yellows, the beautiful blues, and the gorgeous scarlet tanager! Wonderful collection ... And special time with your granddaughter! Lovely post altogether.

    It's not bad here in Our part of Florida this time of year either.... Welcome back.

  28. It's been a few weeks since you've added your link at I'd Rather B Birdin'....thought maybe you were traveling.

    LOVE these images Ken!! Especially the "Blue on Blue" of the I. Bunting!!!

  29. My favorites of these are the warblers -- all of them! There are so many species that do not come through here, so that just means I'll have to travel. Interesting info about the Eagle who has found a new mate. Hope they can be successful next time.

  30. Wow! So many wonderful pictures. Some really stunning birds there.

  31. First class photos of those birds!


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