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09/04/11
NE Illinois: Parting images
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 10:16 am

Alas, we are leaving our second home in northeastern Illinois to return to Florida, just at the start of warbler migration. Yesterday Kane County Audubon Society sponsored its monthly “Scope Day” at Nelson Lake/Dick Young Forest Preserve, only about a mile from our condo. Although I obtained not a single decent shot of any of the Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, Magnolia Warblers and Black-throated Green Warblers we sighted, the arduous 3 1/2 mile walk around the lake made for a most enjoyable morning. We logged over 60 species.

The group included a nice mix of experienced and casual local birders, as well as visitors from out of state. They gathered on the east viewing platform to scope out herons and ducks:

Nelson Lake KCAS 20110903

Here, some of the two dozen birders who showed up are zeroing in on a Sedge Wren that posed nicely in the tall grass (until I raised my camera):

Birders in action 20110903

The past three days have been hotter and more humid than back “home” in Florida. The day before “Scope Day” I braved the heat and scouted out the east side of Nelson Lake. There were relatively few migratory birds to be seen after about 8:30 AM. They probably were hiding in the cool shade  

This Magnolia Warbler was a sweet find, though its photo is a bit out of focus:

Magnolia Warbler 2-20110902

As usual, an American Redstart made my job very difficult by refusing to sit in one spot for more than a nanosecond:

American Redstart 20110902

When migrants are few and far between, I can always turn to more familiar subjects, such as this Black-capped Chickadee:

Black-capped Chickadee 20110902

Common as they may be, I have found it difficult to get decent shots of chickadees; here is one from a different perspective:

Black-capped Chickadee 2-20110902

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird appeared briefly in my viewfinder:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 20110902

A couple of days earlier I serendipitously obtained a better image when a hummer wandered into my field of view as I was photographing a flock of Tennessee Warblers at Les Arends Forest Preserve; note its long tongue:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird long tongue 20110830

This redstart eyed me briefly:

American Redstart 20110830

The Tennessee Warblers were nearly as uncooperative as the redstart had been. Here was my best shot of one, peering out from under a leaf:

Tennessee Warbler 4-20110830

The best I could obtain from this Nashville Warbler was a “butt shot,” which nicely illustrates the yellow undetail coverts and longer tail feathers that help distinguish it from the more numerous Tennessee Warblers when they mingle in the treetops:

 Nashville Warbler 20110830

Three of the flycatchers that I spotted the day before before Scope Day failed to show up for the wider audience. This is a Least Flycatcher…

Least Flycatcher 2-20110829

… a shadow-marred Great Crested Flycatcher…

Great Crested Flycatcher 20110829

… and here is my fuzzy shot that documents my sighting of an Olive-sided Flycatcher:

Olive-sided Flycatcher 2-20110829

Exactly one year earlier, I had captured a better view of the Olive-sided Flyactcher at the same location, one that exhibits its namesake dark “vest:”

Olive-sided Flycatcher 3-20100904

White feathers may ruffle up on the rump of this species, providing another useful field mark:

Olive-sided Flycatcher 4-20100904

Compensating for the absence of their flycatcher cousins, Scope Day participant saw many Eastern Wood-Pewees:

Eastern Wood-Pewee 2-20110903

American Goldfinches were the most common land birds we saw on Scope Day:

American Goldfinch 20110821

The goldfinches were busy attending to their young. Earlier this week, at Lippold Park, I captured this female gathering thistles for her nest:

American Goldfinch with thistle down 2-20110825

Unlike nearly all other songbirds, goldfinches do not feed insects to their young. Instead, the adults ingest seeds and regurgitate a protein-rich “milk” from their crop linings:

American Goldfinch with thistle down 20110825

Audubon walks are not only about birds, and participants got to see some interesting insects, including this Praying Mantis…

Praying Mantis 20110903

…a close-up of a nectar-sipping Eastern Tiger Swallowtail…

Tiger Swallowtail detail 20110903

…a pollen-gathering Carpenter Bee (told from a Bumblebee by its dark non-furry abdomen)…

Carpenter Bee on clover 20110903

…and a vivid male Common Whitetail dragonfly resting trailside:

Common Whitetail 20110903

Finally, as I arrived home, hot and dehydrated, I saw the family of Sandhill Cranes resting in the shade of a willow next to our condo; my presence put them on alert:

Sandhill Cranes 20110903

13 Responses to “NE Illinois: Parting images”

  1. Marion Miller Says:
    Nice summary of the Saturday walk. Enjoyed the beautiful pictures too. Sorry to hear you out of IL again. Enjoy your FL home and say Hi to Mary Lou.
  2. Aria Says:
    Your photos are a joy to behold and the one you say was slightly out of focus can better be described by the photographic term ’soft focus’. Brilliant collection of great birds.
  3. eileen Says:
    Wow, great collections of birds and photos. I love all the warblers and the cute Goldfinches. The cranes are a neat sighting. Have a safe trip back to Florida.
  4. Stewart M - Australia Says:
    Hi there - seems like a very good day - I would have thought that the insect shots more than made up for a few less the 100% bird shots! And some of the birds (goldfinches) are pretty good at that! Cheers - SM
  5. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  6. Hilke Breder Says:
    Gorgeous photos, Ken! I love all your warbler shots. also your flycatchers, insects, sandhill cranes…. Great series! We are having a really rainy week (tropical storm Lee announcing itelf?) and therefore no looking for migratory birds, except one evening watching nighthawks which was fun, just too high to take pictures.
  7. Andrew Says:
    A wonderful post… a lovely read and your images a so beautiful.
  8. Elaine Says:
    Hello, Thank you for the awesome pictures! I found a link to your blog from the Kane County Audubon website which I frequently read. I am learning to identify birds from the pictures you post. Enjoy FL! Best Regards, Elaine
  9. springman Says:
    Now that is what I call bird blogging! Whew, That is a wild variety of photographs you share with us. I like that you caught such nice views of the thistle munching goldfinches. We are seeing some of the same things! The bee on the clover is magnificently shot. I have never Birded in a group, it would be fun to try. Wouldn’t it be a good opportunity to take candid shots of birdwatchers faces? So intense! And NO! The Magnolia warbler is not “slightly out of focus.” It is flat out spectacular.
  10. fjÀllripan Says:
    Wonderful post! So many beautiful birds you found. The humminbird is so great captured and I really liked the starnge insect…the prayer something :)
  11. Pat Says:
    A spectacular group of birds displayed here! They are all fantastic, but I’m drawn to the Goldfinch with a mouthful of thistledown.
  12. Hummingbird Food Recipe Says:
    Hummingbirds are so adorable. Thanks for writing this!
  13. Santiago Aragon Says:
    Ken, The pictures of the Cranes are the ones I saw last week, very loud ones. Take care, Santi

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