Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh preserve

South Florida has continued to experience unusual quantities of rainfall. Getting out early, we sometimes had to curtail our wetland walks as storms approached. On the day before we departed, thunderstorms gathered on all sides. On our way back home via the gravel road an ominous "double mushroom thunderhead" had formed in the southeast, over the city of Miami:

Double Mushroom HDR 20160923 

The early morning sun created a startling rainbow effect:

Rainbow effect HDR 20160923

Before the winds picked up, a Green Heron reflected from its perch on a little rock island:

Green Heron HDR 05-20160922

Both days after we arrived at our second home in northeastern Illinois we took morning walks at nearby Nelson Lake, a Kane County Forest Preserve. On the first day we explored the eastern prairie and surrounding woodlands. The weather was pleasant but the birding was slow.

Silo at Nelson Lake HDR 20160925

An observation deck overlooks the east side of the lake:

Nelson Lake east platform HDR 20160926

The view from the platform:

Nelson Lake HDR 20160925

A Red-tailed Hawk flew towards us and passed right overhead:

Red-tailed Hawk 05-20160925

Red-tailed Hawk 01-20160925

A Savannah Sparrow flew up from the path and then settled on a small shrub. They are usually active and restless, but this one allowed a rather close approach. 

Savannah Sparrow 07-20160925

Savannah Sparrow 04-20160925

In the wooded area, photography was a bit of a challenge because of the dense foliage and dark shadows. This Downy Woodpecker was a case in point. My photos were soft but I liked the bokeh caused by the filtered light and the different postures assumed by the woodpecker as it foraged on some low-lying branches:

Downy Woodpecker HDR 20160925 

Downy Woodpecker HDR 02-20160925

Yellow-Rumped Warblers are late migrants, and their arrival signaled that the best of the season had passed. It was difficult to pick them out among the leaves:

Yellow-rumped Warbler HDR 02-20160925

Yellow-rumped Warbler HDR 01-20160925

That night a cold front passed through. In mid-morning, after the rains let up we entered the preserve from the north We were not prepared for the cold 46 degrees  (~8 degrees Celsius), such a contrast from Florida's heat and humidity. A family group of Sandhill Cranes provided a nice photo opportunity.  The colt lacks the red forehead which distinguishes it from its parents:

Sandhill Cranes 01-20160926

They suddenly decided they did not appreciate our intrusion:

Sandhill Cranes HDR 06-20160926

Sandhill Cranes in flight HDR 20160926

Sandhill Cranes in flight HDR 02-20160926

When birding is slow there is time to observe other items of interest and beauty, including colorful Milkweed Bugs:

Milkweed Bugs 20160925

It was very windy and there were few butterflies but plenty of flowers, such as these rich purple New England Asters:

New England Aster 20160926

A honeybee collected pollen from a Heath Aster...

Honeybee on Heath Aster 20160925

...and a Yellow Jacket also visited: 

Yellow Jacket on Heath Aster 20160925

Our travel and temporary relocation have caused me to get terribly behind on correspondence, but rain is in the forecast and I hope to have more computer face time in the next few days. I will certainly be browsing all your great posts, and thank you for so many kind comments! (Now to make my Thursday morning deadline!) 

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

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



  1. Why aren't you back in FL? We've had a nice couple days.

    I LOVE those cloud shots. I love clouds.

    Loved your critters and stuff too :)

  2. love the purple asters. the cranes are awesome. beautiful savannah sparrow portraits! thank you, ken.

  3. Wow! Great photography ~ the avian ones are particularly eye catching and so well photographed ~

    Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

  4. beautiful photos as always...that cloud formation in the first photo looks like a ufo!

  5. Hello Ken!:) Magical nature shots,... ALL of your photos. Love the in flight Sandhill Crane shots, the hawk, and Savannah Sparrow. The pretty bugs also deserve a mention, and the purple Asters.

  6. Gorgeous photos, Kenneth! Your photo of the platform and its views reminds me of a nature park here in Montreal. There is a platform with a couple of benches and beautiful views.

  7. Wonderful post. The birds are always a pleasure to see. I liked the Sandhill Cranes in flight. - Also the colorful bugs. But I must say the first 2 shots with those amazing clouds (and a fence) were my absolute favorites today.

  8. You have the most beautiful, dramatic skies!! So many great photos here, I really enjoyed the post.

  9. Wonderful shots. Lovely birds and flowers.

  10. The rainbow clouds photos is amazing! Love the flowers and bird photos too!

  11. Wow - fabulous shots. Those rainbow clouds are gorgeous!

  12. Great capture,double mushroom cloud

  13. Beautiful, just beautiful birds and skies...the sky is just something else, what luck you had to catch that! Fantastic shot...

  14. Such beauty! The cloud pics are probably some of the best I have ever seen! It looks like a watercolor painting. We winter in South Fl also. I love all of the beautiful color and wildlife it has to offer.

  15. There is always something to see in nature isn't there? You certainly found it in these lovely photos. Thank you once again for sharing them with Today's Flowers, and have a great weekend.

  16. love the towering cloud in the first image. very impressive.

  17. The first two photos are gorgeous! They have an almost unreal effect - fascinating!!

  18. As usual Kenneth a wonderful post and I particularly loved the Cranes in flight.Have a wonderful weekend.

  19. I love the clouds (wow, aren't they magnificent) and the birds.

  20. All wonderful photos. I particularly like the Red-tailed Hawk shots.

  21. So many wonderful images!! Loving the rainbow sky, very unusual and the green heron reflection. Your bird captures are stunning as are your flowers and insects. Thank you so much for sharing and have a lovely weekend.

  22. Hello Ken, awesome series of photo. I love all the birds and sky shots. The first mushroom cloud capture is stunning. The Cranes photos are some of my favorites. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  23. A beautiful series of photos!
    Great photos of the Savannah Sparrow!
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  24. Those Florida skies are beautiful but definitely ominous.... We look at the storm tracker every morning from the safety of our Oregon home and cross our fingers. It's wonderful how you find such beautiful birds around both your homes... I am a bit envious needless to say. Tho I hope that eventually we will be able to make more birding trips while we're in Oregon.

  25. great photos. we have some sand hill cranes that walk through our yard every morning about 830am. they're really loud! but so pretty.

  26. A beautiful, colourful sky picture. Your Savannah Sparrow looks a lot like the Song Sparrow that came to visit our cabin last winter. I sure hope it returns this year. I miss all the summer birds. - Margy

  27. amazing clouds and a sweet reflection of the little heron

  28. Absolutely wonderful once again Ken!! Loved viewing the sand hill cranes in take off mode this time around. Wow!! As with all your photos, they're super ----never saw a 'rainbow effect' on the morning clouds before.

    Sharing this post was much appreciated for us birders this week at I'd Rather B Birdin'....for that, I thank you.

  29. Love those beautiful sandhill cranes in flight! And amazing photos of the red-tailed hawk. Thanks so much for your help identifying mine last week. I really appreciated your detailed id....I would love to try to remember it when I spot hawks here in FL. Enjoy your afternoon!

  30. That cloud looks rather ominous!

    In a few weeks I'll be posting my first Australian Cranes - Brolga.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  31. These are all great shots, but the sky in the first one is amazing! What an artist God is, huh?
    Thanks for sharing at

  32. Florida produced some beautiful images and it was neat to see that great shot of the hawk!

  33. Wonderful photos! I love the hawk!

  34. Wonderful collection of photos! I love the clouds in the two first photos and the cranes in flight are lovely.


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