Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sandpipers in potholes, fluddles and retention ponds

The Upper Midwest is dotted with depressions which collect water from rainfall and snowmelt. Varying in size, depth and weather conditions, some may dry up rather quickly while others may be relatively permanent. All serve as important foraging sites for waterfowl and the larger ones are major breeding sites, comprising " of the most important wetland regions in the world. The area is home to more than 50 percent of North American waterfowl." [Ref: Prairie Potholes US Environmental Protection Agency

At Nelson Lake Marsh/Dick Young Kane County Forest Preserve near our second home in NE Illinois, there is a nice example of a pothole which holds water the year around, surrounded by marshes. Ducks, geese and Sandhill Cranes have raised their broods here. Red-winged Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens and Swamp Sparrows reside in the wetlands:  

Nelson Lake pothole 20170721 

A Double-crested Cormorant perches on a Muskrat lodge:

Nelson Lake Prairie pothole 20170714

Before the land around our condominium was developed, one small pothole served as a permanent residence for a family of Muskrats and attracted migrating geese, ducks and sandpipers.

The view from our front porch in May, 2011:

Canada Geese in front yard 20110508

We were delighted when a Snow Goose showed up:

Snow Goose in front yard 20110508

Among our breeding "yard birds" were Spotted Sandpipers (May, 2012):

Spotted Sandpiper 2-20120515

Potholes were produced by the weight of glacial ice some 10,000 years ago. Many of the original potholes were filled and drained as areas were developed for agricultural or commercial purposes. Yet some remnants persist even in cultivated fields as evanescent shallow flood puddles ("fluddles") which attract migrating sandpipers and plovers. Other man-made retention ponds capture urban rainwater and serve as surrigate "potholes."

This past week our local Kane County Audubon Society sponsored a "ramble" to one such retention pond, on the grounds of the James O Breen Community Park in St. Charles. 

KCAS birders watching sandpipers 20170921

August and September have been unusually dry, and water levels have decreased to the point of threatening the pond's fish population. Large carp are surfacing to gasp for air, to the delight of Ospreys. Mud flats along the shore have attracted large numbers of sandpipers.

Lesser Yellowlegs predominated:

Lesser Yellowlegs 01-20170921 

I counted nine Stilt Sandpipers:

Stilt Sandpiper 01-20170921

A small and short-legged Baird's Sandpiper foraged among the Killdeer:

Baird's Sandpiper with Killdeers 03-20170921

Baird's Sandpiper 01-20170921

Two beautiful Buff-breasted Sandpipers provided excellent views:

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 01-20170921

A Wilson's Snipe rested on the mudflat:

Wilson's Snipe 20170921

An immature Red-tailed Hawk oversaw the action from atop a goal post, but seemed to pose no threat:

Red-tailed Hawk 02-20170921

The Community Park is part of a complex managed by the St Charles Park District which includes athletic fields, community vegetable gardens, an aquatic park, picnic areas and the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center with an adjacent natural area.

Community Gardens with idle pasture in foreground:

Community gardens idle for winter HDR 20161010

Autumn color at Hickory Knolls:

Hickory Knolls 2-20141023

Nature trail:

Hickory Knolls 20141023

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


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



  1. I learned a new word...yeah, said the writer.

    So many lovely shots. I'm hoping for cooler weather so I can get out again.

  2. Lovely to have so many beautiful birds to watch. The fifth photo makes me smile.
    Have a good day.

  3. A glorious and captivating series, Kenneth! Thank you so much for sharing, and the Autumn colours are brilliant!

  4. My hope is it rains soon so the birds continue to have a lovely place to call home!

  5. Love the photo of the photographers! And the Red-tailed Hawk - such a beauty!

  6. Those potholes add so much to the landscape of the prairies.

  7. Really interesting about the "potholes"! Wonderful bird photos. I think my favorite is the Wilson's Snipe. Very unusual looking!

  8. Love the reflected birds and the rich autumn color! I did not know about fluddles but I like the word.

  9. Hello, Mr. Kenneth.
    What beautiful pictures you share with us the beauties that surround you. Thank you
    Have a good weekend!


  10. You are so lucky to see all this wildlife and have a camera and the talent to use the camera this well. Nice images.

  11. Beautiful series of images but the hawk and the last three really caught my eye.

  12. Hello, sounds like a great birding spot. All the Sandpipers are wonderful, I love the Snipe. I have to add the Baird's and Buff-breasted Sandpiper to my wish list. The views of the trail and falls colors are pretty. Thank you so much for linking up today, sorry if there was trouble with the linky. I am working on it. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  13. A wonderful post! I really like the composition of top photo.

  14. Such an amazing place! Wow...look at the birders assembled! :-) So many different species to see, and beautiful scenery as well.

  15. What a great set of photos, the photographer photograph is great - I travel light with an Iphone so always appreciate the detail with professional camera. How wonderful than some photos are taken from home, very special to have such beauty on your doorstep.

  16. Sorry I am late visiting. Bud & I had a family pet of 25 years pass away last night.

    Thanks so much for faithfully linking up & sharing your birds!

  17. Just gearing up for wader season here - had a flock of Red-Necked Stint in the scope last week - of course the long lens was in the house at the time! Oh well.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. Beautiful nature and bird photos!

  19. Gorgeous Fall colors in the trees, Ken! And the sandpiper is so elegant. An image of photographers always make me smile - they are so focused, but in a different way than painters.
    Thank you for your comment about the angel with the snake of the hurricane - wouldn't be surprised if you were in the prayers of some bloggers:):) Have a great week!

  20. Gorgeous images here.
    Thanks for joining the party at

  21. Wow so many different species of birds. These are awesome shot. And look at all the photographers! They must be having fun.

  22. Kenneth,

    Your bird photos always amaze me. I love the one with the sandpiper's reflection in the water - great capture! The landscape shots are fabulous, too. I love "Autumn Colors at Hickory Knolls"! It makes me giddy to think of nature's changing wardrobe soon approaching provided the leaves don't dry up and blow away. We haven't had enough rain lately and I'm afraid we'll have less than spectacular fall display. Oh well...I'll enjoy whatever Mother Nature gives me. Have a good day and feel free to join me on not-so Wordless Wednesday!

  23. Great scenic photos!
    Love all the birds, but the Hawk is my favorite of this wonderful collection.


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