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05/16/10
It’s Beginning to Feel Like Summer
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches", Bald Eagle Nest
Posted by: Ken @ 10:43 pm

Here in Illinois, the trees are almost completely leafed out. This, combined with a series of overcast days, has made it difficult for me to ID warblers high in the trees. Resident birds now dominate the scene, the more colorful of which are Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Buntings.

Mary Lou and I have visited our local “patches” nearly every morning, hoping not to miss the spring migration warbler bonanza. Frankly, too many of the warblers we encountered ended up in the “unidentified” column. This morning I saw an Orange-crowned Warbler in Hawk’s Bluff Park, Batavia, Illinois.

Hawk’s Bluff Park observation and fishing deck on a bend of Mill Creek:

Hawk's Bluff Park Fishing platform 20100516

The broken eye ring, yellow undersides and grayish head help distinguish the Orange-crowned Warbler from other similar warblers such as Common Yellowthroat and female Yellow Warbler:

Warbler 20100516

While I was trying (unsuccesfully) to get photos of a small flock of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, these two Gray Catbirds suddenly appeared. They were displaying and interacting in a manner that suggested courtship rather than hostility, but they flew off before I could better interpret their actions.

This image makes it look like an angry confrontation, but they did not attack each other and seemed to be engaged in a mating ritual or “dance’  (click on the photo for another view):

Gray Catbirds displaying 2-20100516

Nearby, an Indigo Bunting appeared to be jumping for joy:

Indigo Bunting liftoff 20100516

A Red-tailed Hawk floated overhead:

Red-tailed Hawk 20100510

American Redstarts were the most common of the warblers at Hawk’s Bluff:

American Redstart 2-20100510

From the south end of Hawk’s Bluff, two eaglets are clearly visible in this shot of the Mooseheart nest, the first in Kane County since DDT was abolished in the 1970s:

Bald Eagles 20100516

Here is a male Yellow Warbler, seen at Les Arends Forest Preserve in Batavia, also a rather poor image due to the heavy overcast:

Yellow Warbler 20100515

An Eastern Kingbird appears ever vigilant…

Eastern Kingbird 20100514

…while an Eastern Phoebe seems to be at peace with the world:

Eastern Phoebe 20100515

A third species of flycatcher, this Great Crested, calls from the upper canopy:

Great Crested Flycatcher 20100514

A White-eyed Vireo sings his heart out:

White-eyed Vireo 4-20100514

At Jones Meadow Park near our North Aurora home, we often heard and sometimes caught glimpses of several Soras that nest in the wetlands. This time I was lucky. High water had forced them up the berm near the trail. It was difficult to focus on them through the high grass, but two ventured so close to me that I could not get their entire bodies in my viewfinder.

This Sora walked right out in the open, almost at my feet (click on photo for more views):

Sora SOOC crop 20100515

A resident Muskrat munches on cattail sprouts:

Muskrat 20100515

Also at Jones Meadow, this Northern Cardinal seems to be wearing a set of false teeth! On closer examination, his mouth is full of seeds, probably intended for a nestling:

Northern Cardinal 20100515

American Goldfinches abounded:

American Goldfinch 20100515

Sporting a bright reddish cap, a Chipping Sparrow visited the play area at Jones Meadow Park:

Chipping Sparrow 20100515

A late White-crowned Sparrow pecked at dandelion seeds along the path:

White-crowned Sparrow 20100515

The sparrow missed this perfect dandelion seed head:

Dandelion Seed 20100516

A Tree Swallow guards its nest box:

Tree Swallow SOOC 20100515

Wildflowers add their color to the scene…

Flowers 20100515

…as does this Red Admiral Butterfly:

Red Admiral Butterfly 20100516

…and a Baltimore Oriole:

Baltimore Oriole 2-20100515

This afternoon, as I was cooking a BBQ at our daughter’s home, a Savannah Sparrow put in an appearance in their back yard:

Savannah Sparrow SOOC crop 20100516

One Response to “It’s Beginning to Feel Like Summer”

  1. phil Says:
    Another superb set Ken. That Tree Sparrow is just spot on and I have to say, once again, Savannah Sparrow - awesome light in that shot.

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