Sunday, May 3, 2015
A robust robin and a little king
Posted by Kenneth Cole Schneider
Two days after we left the fair skies of Florida behind. we arrived at our second home in NE Illinois.
Sunburst over the back gate:
Clouds over the Everglades:
We were harshly greeted by cold, windy and wet weather. We ventured afield briefly in near-freezing temperatures and found that the dark skies and high winds rendered birding and photography nearly impossible. Staying in or near the car, my first shots were of a group of Northern Shovelers in a roadside pond.
A Red-tailed Hawk kited motionless in the sky against the sharp headwind, with gusts over 40 MPH:
The buildings also stood still for the camera:
After a sub-freezing night with snow flurries, the next day dawned bright, but the winds persisted. We got out to nearby Fabyan Park in Geneva, Illinois to see the nest of a Great Horned Owl with three owlets.
Only two showed their faces:
American Robins were special to me as a youngster in New Jersey, for they stirred hope that spring would soon arrive. They usually came in early March, but I still remember their early arrival on February 12, 1949, bird #18 on my first formal life list. On that same day I saw my first Redpoll, a species I would not see again until a trip to Alaska in 2011 :
We rarely see robins in our south Florida neighborhood. They may appear sporadically some winters for a few days as small bands or even huge migratory flocks, but they sometimes do not appear at all. Fabyan Park was full of them. This male was a particularly robust individual:
A colorful Yellow-rumped Warbler foraged on the path ahead of us:
Our granddaughter helped me stock their backyard feeders, and they instantly attracted colorful Northern Cardinals...
...joined by a male House Finch:
Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackle quickly helped deplete the seed:
Rain was predicted again, but we got out early to Lippold Park, where another Red-tailed Hawk soared above in circles:
Stopping to photograph wildflowers, I had fallen behind Mary Lou. She called me excitedly to report her sighting of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with its bright head feathers extended. When I caught up to her, the kinglet's head was no longer adorned:
I took over a dozen photos, trying to catch at least a glimpse of its signature crown as it weaved through the understory, to no avail until suddenly it rewarded me!
During the past week the trees have started leafing out and wildflowers have appeared. Among the early flowers--
Blue and White Violets:
White Trout Lily:
And fittingly, a Wake Robin: