A reunion with 20 members of our Illinois family this past weekend, and preparations for a Cinco de Mayo party that our daughter’s family plans to host this coming Sunday have occupied much of our time. Happily, there is a new city park, only four or five doors away from their home in Batavia. It hugs the bank of Mill Creek, just a few hundred yards west of Randall Road, a busy thoroughfare. It opened a few months ago [and will be dedicated as “Hawk’s Bluff Park” later this month], and is a nice example of the many natural areas that are preserved by local and county governments in Illinois.
Some neighbors who enjoyed fishing in Mill Creek feared that the park would disrupt the surrounding woodlands and degrade its waters. Time will tell whether these fears were warranted. At the edge of what had been an almost impenetrable tangle of shrubs, vines and fine old trees, there is a play area and a parking lot that connect to about a half mile network of wood-chip trails. The trails generally steer clear of the banks of Mill Creek.
With my new birding companion, our daughter’s family dog, Agramonte, a (nearly) five month old Tibetan Mastiff puppy, we have been exploring the new park almost daily. If the granddaughters are with us, we spend most of our time at the new swings and slides. Almost always, there is time to visit the viewing area.
Viewing platform at Mill Creek, the only place where the trail is adjacent to the water:
One member of a pair of Canada Geese that are nesting near the overlook exhibited an interesting behavior. One of the birds was sitting on a nest, crouched low and barely visible, just across the small creek from our vantage point. Since there is almost always a mate keeping watch over a nest, I looked carefully for the second goose.
I finally located it, about 25 feet away, near the other side of the creek. I would not have seen it, but for the fact that it had been swimming in that location earlier. This bird was absolutely still in the water with its neck extended and its head partly under water. This posture hid its distinctive chin marking. It looked for all the world like a pile of debris. In fact, I had to scrutinize it with my binoculars to confirm that I was looking at a living goose. It remained motionless the entire time we were there, for over 10 minutes. Might the presence of Agramonte triggered this unusual defensive behavior?
Looking northeast at bend in Mill Creek. Canada Goose on nest is barely visible on bank to the right:
Looking southeast from viewing platform:
Birding has not been very remarkable, but as the leaves begin to erupt I am sure that the number of migrants will increase. Yesterday there were Blue-headed and Yellow-throated Vireos, and a Nashville Warbler present. I checked the Key West radar this evening and saw migrants departing northward from Cuba and the Keys in good numbers. Maybe some will follow a more westerly course and arrive here in Chicagoland in a few days.
At the bottom of this page is the Key West NWS radar view at a little after 10:30 PM, Florida time. As always, be sure to check BADBIRDZ in the morning for a full report on Florida migration radar for the entire night.
Some interesting flowers are in bloom. I am trying to learn all their names. Oh, to be seventy again!
Blue Violet, Illinois State Flower:
White Trout Lily:
Wake Robin (Trillium recurvatum):
Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata):
Key West Radar, one hour loop at about 10:30 PM Florida time, shows impressive numbers of birds passing over the Straits of Florida from Cuba, and others moving northwestward from the Keys. :