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08/29/09
Birding Nelson Lake’s East Side
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 9:46 am

Kane County Audubon Society birders on east trail at Nelson Lake:

NelsonLakeBirdersTrail 060

The eastern portion of Nelson Lake/Dick Young Kane County (Illinois) Forest Preserve offers a greater variety of habitats than the newly developed northern and western part of the preserve. As noted im my previous post, the  latter area is dominated by tall grass prairie. Interfaces between different habitats are usually more ecologically diverse. On the east side there are many more “edges” to explore, between the lake, wetlands, woodlands and grasslands.  

Looking back towards the old silo that marks the east entry:

East Entrance Nelson Lake 20090818

This panoramic view was taken from the entrance path, facing to the west. Directly in front is the observation platform that overlooks the lake. Extensive woodlands encircle the lake, and grasslands are on both sides, to the south and north. A 3 1/2 mile mowed path follows the lake’s perimeter.

Click for a scrolling panorama at http://clvr.eu/acc (reduce image size to better appreciate the view):

Nelson Lake Observation Deck Pano20090814

The grasslands on the east side of Nelson lake are not extensive enough to attract Bobolinks and Henslow’s Sparrows, but during spring and summer we usually hear a half dozen Sedge Wrens singing
next to the entrance path.

Four male Sedge Wrens were still singing on August 18th:

Sedge Wren 2-20090818

The Kane County Audubon Society sponsors 8:00 AM field trips on the first Saturday of each month. In November, the general public is invited to participate in “scope day,” when members bring their spotting scopes and array them on the metal deck, where the lake and wetlands may be conveniently scanned.  

Scope Day, back in November, 2007:

NelsonLake 051Scopers

Last week, we arrived at the observation deck early, and saw this Coyote hunting along the shore of Nelson Lake:

Coyote 20090813

As we watched the Coyote, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched right next to us, so close that I had to switch to a macro lens setting:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2-20090813

A family of Eastern Kingbird fledglings waited patiently to be fed:

Eastern Kingbird Chicks 20090813

A parent bird arrived with a fairly large wild cherry, but the adult had to eat it after the begging youngsters repeatedly refused to swallow it:

Eastern Kingbird Feeding Chicks 20090813

Backlighted by the low sun, a third chick readily accepted an insect treat:

Kingbird Feeding Young B&W 20090813

A red-eyed Eastern Towhee scolded us from a nearby bush:

Eastern Towhee 20090813

A Brown Thrasher glared at us with white eyes:

Brown Thrasher 3-20090813

A Gray Catbird showed us its reddish under-tail coverts:

Gray Catbird 20090813

A molting Indigo bunting craned his neck, as if to get a better look at us:

Indigo Bunting 20090813

This Common Yellowthroat also cocked his head quizzically:

Common Yellowthroat 2-20090813

A fledgling yellowthroat was nearby, atop a milkweed:

Common Yellowthroat Immature20090813

It is hard to turn down an American Goldfinch photo opportunity:

American Goldfinch 20090813

Many birds were molting, such as this shaggy Red-tailed Hawk; note the symmetry of flight feather replacement that maintains flight balance:

Red-tailed Hawk Molting 20090813

Back at our condo, a male American Kestrel hunting for grasshoppers posed on a painted post just outside our front door, but his mate was out of camera range:

American Kestrel 3-20090821

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