Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, September 26, 2009


A couple of years ago this bird was a life bird for me. This is not an endangered or rare bird but a few years ago to me it was an exciting find. I heard this term before but I wasn't really sure what it meant. Recently on Twitter I found this tweet @Back2N8ure Do you know what a life bird is? . Another tweeter @Kolibrix does a Book Review: Life List by Olivia Gentile. Biograph of the birder Phoebe Snetsinger post on his Birding blog by Gunnar Engblom.

While out birding last weekend I came across this beautiful Killdeer foraging along the Fox River. A few years back I can remember wishing and wishing I could see one. Now I see them so often that sometimes I don't even give them a second thought. On this particular day however I reminisced of time spent birding with my sister a few years ago. She is a librarian and had checked out a bird field guide for my visit.

Before going out on our birding adventure my sister and I located this bird in the field guide and read about it's habitat and habits. I remember reading about it's distinctive cry like call often heard in flight. What I was most intrigued by however was the broken wing act they use to lead you away from their nest. I remember reading this part aloud to my sister before we left her house. I was amazed when we actually came upon a pair of them in one of the Metro parks near her home. And guess what they were doing. Yep! The broken wing act! This of course pulled us (respectfully) closer to them much to their chagrin. I couldn't believe that I was witnessing this just after reading about it only a few hours before. Below are the pictures I took that day with my sister. One of my first and most memorable birding adventures with my sister to this day.

Killdeer Nest
Broken Wing Act 1
Broken Wing Act 2
Broken Wing Act 3

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekends are Worth Their Weight in Gold

Kingfisher along the Fox River

I love weekends! When Monday rolls around I wait for another two days off. I often think if I had just one more weekend day, I would be able to catch up on stuff around the house. But the reality is ... I would just relax or play outside more and continue to wish for that one more day to catch up. Last Saturday for example I stayed in my pajamas all day long, sat at my computer for a while then vegged on the couch the rest of the night in my warm socks with tea and a fantastic foot rub from my husband.

Sunday was even better. I took my new binoculars: the ones I just won from Wildbird Magazine's 21st annual photo contest and spend the entire day out side birdwatching with my husband. I have so enjoyed the gorgeous late late summer weather these past few weekends. As the new school year begins I truly value weekends like these. They are definitely worth their weight in gold.

We of course came across a few treasures while breaking in my new binoculars. My favorite find so far is the Belted Kingfisher we saw last weekend along the Fox River in Batavia Illinois.
While watching a Great Egret fish in the river, I noticed something hover above the egret and us. It was a Belted Kingfisher! Suddenly another one flew up and the two were off chasing each other back and forth while chatting up a storm. How exciting! We watched them fly over to a couple of trees along the shore across from us. The binoculars pinpointed the location for us so we decided to try and get a little closer. We figured they would be gone by the time we made it over to the trees they were playing in but decided to try anyway.

The Great Egret continued to fish. It was very interesting to watch as we made our way toward the Kingfisher. The egret would tilt it's head so that it was almost horizontal with it's body while eying it's next catch. It then started flying toward us on the shore line we were walking on, that is until it noticed us and made a u-turn to flew toward the opposite shore.

Then a little Mallard beauty along the way.
It's bright orange feet and yellow beak shine in the sunlight.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker creeps along tree while catching bugs.

Then finally ... finally our Belted beauty.
We watched him preen and shiver before taking off.

Down the Fox River it flew ... skimming and catching fish. Then landed way down
the river where we no longer had access. It was an awesome sight/experience.

Thank you Wildbird Magazine for choosing my Great Horned Owl entry as your 2nd place winner in the amateur category. I love my new binoculars!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Birding Along ... Roads Less Traveled

I started my day at the computer and was having a hard time pulling myself away. Luckily a warm breeze carried the smell of sunshine through my front door and swirled around my computer chair. The result was this Twitter tweet: "HooootOwl Fresh air calling ... gonna go get some Happy Sunday :)" The only decision left now was where and how to fit some birdwatching in to my plans for the day. My husband and I really enjoy a good Sunday drive .... so we decided to take our time driving to a new shop location for my Nature-ally Beautiful Cards. Our Destination? : The Oregon Soap Shoppe ... The Route? : Rural. You know these roads ... dirt, gravel and partial paved back roads that eventually get you to your destination. The View? : Mostly farm land cloaked with prairie fields that give you the feel of the antiquated countryside charm of long ago. Very peaceful ride. Quiet. No music needed.The first bird ... well duck, that caught my attention and caused that double take rubber neck reaction was a Muscovy Duck. I was more than surprised to see one in Illinois. I didn't realize that they were or could be a domesticated farm duck. So I Googled it and found this, a blog by a fellow Twitter with username tylamac on a squidoo post . An enjoyable read.

The Muscovy we saw today were on a farm we passed along a quiet rural
road. They were eating with a pig of all things. There were three Muscovy
on this farm. They seemed very tolerant of each other while sharing the ... ?
whatever they were eating under the clumps of dried grass and mud.
The Muscovy I saw in Texas this past January seemed much larger.
It was more of a loner, among but not associating with any other birds, fowl
or pigs for that matter. This odd pairing was a pleasant surprise
type of a sighting for me today ... so we watched them munch .. they watched us
photograph them ... then we were back on the road again.

The next farm along our peaceful route had a rolling meadow feel with
a beautiful winding stream that appeared to have no end.
It was a breath taking view where we saw a Great Blue Heron and
a Mallard Duck family sharing the cool fresh water with many cows.

Then all of a sudden a flock of European Starling swarmed
the fields covering both the fields and the cows.

They swarmed ...

and swarmed ...

and swarmed!

I'm not sure if there were more flies or Starlings
bothering the cows here today.

There were miles and miles of telephone wire along the way.
It seemed to be another area that attracted many birds
along these countryside and rural roads.

Clear blue skies made a beautiful backdrop for these Swallows
chatting it up on the telephone wires along a gravel road.

The perfect spot to scan the entire area looking for the next tasty treat.

A beautiful View

Then finally by foot : We stopped here on way back home
Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh Nature Preserve

A female American Gold Finch

A little camera envy

A gorgeous grape vine waiting for a customer.

A female American Redstart bouncing from branch to branch.

In addition to the beautiful birds we saw here today,
the many blossoms basking in the sunshine made our walk enjoyable.
I was hoping to see a hummingbird today. The path was
loaded with flowers to attract them along with many songbirds.

There were so many things to photograph here
including other photographers enjoying their day too.

By car or foot ... so much to see and always something new.