Sunday, May 3, 2015

A robust robin and a little king

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:

 Sunburst HDR 20150416

 Clouds over the Everglades:

 Clouds over Everglades HDR 20150417

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.

Northern Shovelers 3-20150421

A Red-tailed Hawk kited motionless in the sky against the sharp headwind, with gusts over 40 MPH:

 Red-tailed Hawk 20150421

The buildings also stood still for the camera:

Barn Albumen 20150421  Barn2 Albumen 20150421 

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:

 Great Horned Owls 20150422

Great Horned Owl 2 of 3 owlets 20150422

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:

American Robin HDR 201500422

A colorful Yellow-rumped Warbler foraged on the path ahead of us:   

 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-20150422

Our granddaughter helped me stock their backyard feeders, and they instantly attracted colorful Northern Cardinals...

Northern Cardinal 3-20150422

...joined by a male House Finch:

Northern Cardinal and House Finch 20150422

House Finch male 20150422

Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackle quickly helped deplete the seed:

Red-winged Blackbird 20150422

Common Grackle 20150422

Rain was predicted again, but we got out early to Lippold Park, where another Red-tailed Hawk soared above in circles:

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20150423

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:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6-20150423

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!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3-20150423

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 20150423

During the past week the trees have started leafing out and wildflowers have appeared. Among the early flowers--

Bluebells -  Mertensia virginica 2-20150427

Blue Violets:

Blue Violet 20150427

Blue and White Violets:

Blue and white Violet 2-20150427

Spring Beauty:

Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica 2-20150423

Cutrleaf Toothwort:

Cutleaf Toothwort - Dentaria laciniata 20150423

White Trout Lily:

White Trout Lily - Erythronium albidum

And fittingly, a Wake Robin:

Wake Robin 20150429


  1. Simply wonderful series, Ken! Even if it is from "up north"! :)
    I'm really jealous of that kinglet shot. I've yet to get an image of one showing of that crown.
    Hope your spring is off to a great start.

  2. It doesn't happen very often Kenneth, but I am absolutely speechless at all these fabulous photos.

  3. Great shots! amazing skies, cute owls & amazing flowers!

    xoxo, Juliana | PJ’ Happies :)

  4. Your photos are absolutely stunning, Kenneth!