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07/30/11
Illinois prairie in early summer
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 8:00 am

Soon after returning from from Alaska to our second home in Illinois, I took a break from editing and reviewing the photos from the trip. Illinois weather had been quite variable, from cool and rainy to hotter than Florida. Our first stop was at Aurora West Forest Preserve, only a couple of miles from our condo. Our target bird was the Clay-colored Sparrow that nested there last year. We had no luck in finding the sparrow, but it was a delightful morning full of color and sound.

An Indigo Bunting sang a variant song from the top of a tree. Mary Lou and I had heard this same bird before we left for Alaska. Instead of the usual series of coupled warbling notes, this bird repeated two wheezy phrases that sounded like “Wree-Wree, Wree-Wree…” etc. It definitely meant to be singing, not sounding call notes.

I like the way that the blues and greens work together in this image:

Indigo Bunting 20110704

A Field Sparrow sang vigorously. Its behavior suggested that a nest was nearby, as it raised its crest anxiously, making it look as if it were wearing a red hat:

Field Sparrow 20110704

The Red-winged Blackbirds were also in an agitated state…

Red-winged Blackbird 2-20110704

…flying back and forth across the path in front of us as if to distract us from fledglings hidden in the high grass:

Red-winged Blackbird 20110704

The blackbirds directed their ire at another trespasser; a Red-tailed Hawk endured repeated bombardment by four or five Red-wings:

Red-tailed Hawk and blackbird 3-20110704

One actually landed on the hawk’s back:

Red-tailed Hawk and blackbird 2-20110704

Two mornings later, we moved on to Dick Young Forest Preserve/Nelson Lake Marsh in nearby Batavia, birding the tallgrass prairie on the north side of the Preserve. Here, our target birds were Henslow’s Sparrows, Bobolinks and Sedge Wrens. We dipped on the sparrows and wrens, but did see Bobolinks.

Overhead, a Great Blue Heron drifted by lazily:

Great Blue Heron 20110706

American Goldfinches were everywhere:

American Goldfinch 20110706

A pair of Killdeers guarded their three chicks, two of which are seen here:

Killdeer chicks and worried parents 20110706

Song Sparrows added to the morning chorus:

Song Sparrow 20110706

We encountered a singing Dicksissel about every 100 yards along the trail:

Dicksissel 20110706

Common Yellowthroats were… well, common:

Common Yellowthroat 20110706

The yellowthroats, usually reclusive, were singing from perches in full view:

Common Yellowthroat 2-20110706

Bobolinks are among my favorite birds, and we saw several that morning:

Bobolink 2-20110706

I always try to get as much of a Bobolink’s back and face in the photo as possible, not always easy to do:

Bobolink 20110706

On the drive home, we saw two adult Red-tailed Hawks sharing a roost on a street light:

Red-tailed Hawks 20110706

13 Responses to “Illinois prairie in early summer”

  1. Richard Says:
    +1 on the bunting photo, and the action shots of the blackbirds harassing the hawk are great. Thanks again, Ken.
  2. holdingmoments Says:
    Excellent series of shots Ken. Amazing captures of the Red-winged Blackbird and the Red-tailed Hawk.
  3. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  4. Hilke Breder Says:
    Marvellous variety of birds, Ken! I agree the blue and the green in the first shot are beautiful. It’s one of my favorite color combination. The flight mobbing shots are terrific! Bobolinks are one of my favorite birds.
  5. springman Says:
    Great Post!!! There are so many A+++ shots here, it’s like 10 cracking posts in one. The blues and greens in the bunting picture are as intense as I’ve ever seen. I know well the lighting conditions you were dealing with, that high blazing sun; the back-lighting, the stark shadows. I can imagine your fingers flying around the controls of your Dslr. The variety of your subject and the liveliness of the poses is off the charts. But… The best compliment I can give you is that you make me want to slap closed with the lid on this laptop and go outside!
  6. Mick Says:
    Great series of birds and photos but the ones of the Bunting and the Hawk being chased are especially good.
  7. fjÀllripan Says:
    Wonderful photos, they are all so fantastic!!
  8. Andrew Says:
    A fantastic series… I really enjoyed viewing your flight shots.
  9. Neil Says:
    A great series of photos.
  10. Eileen Says:
    Wonderful photos! The birds are all great. I love the heorn in flight and the Indigo Bunting is beautiful. I would love to see a Bobolink. Great photos.
  11. Aria Says:
    What a beautiful series of birds and photographs!
  12. Pat Says:
    These are all wonderful shots and I agree with you about the colors in the first one! I’ve never seen a Bobolink and your pictures clearly illustrate what a beauty I am missing!
  13. Sondra Says:
    WOW amazing shots of some excellent BIRDS

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