Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gray Catbird

I really liked the fine detail on the feathers of this Catbird.

Note: I set a goal of blogging every day for a month and this is my 31st post. Mission Accomplished! I don't know if I could capture enough fresh images for blogging in any other month than in May. It was a great month for nature photography.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Assorted Warblers

All of these warblers were found in the same location for a pretty good representation of the species in one concentration:

Nashville Warbler

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Black & White Warbler

Female Blue-winged Warbler

Female Yellow-breasted Chat

According to Richard, this is a Warbling Vireo!-Thanks Richard!!!!!!

Magnolia Warbler

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bullfrog Eye

I thought this picture was cool because you can see me in a squat position behind the decking in his eye reflection, and his fleckily (is that a word?) gold eye is so vibrant.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gasp!!!!!!! Scarlet Tanagers!

Back story: I haven't seen a Scarlet Tanager in 5 years, and that anomaly was my first EVER---EVER ! So...Fastforward to present: I totally freaked out when I saw this Scarlet Tanager sitting on a cable that bordered the road inside Kankakee State Park on Sunday. Truth be told, there were 2 perched, when I first saw them as I drove right past. [Insert gasp here!] Needless to say, right time, right place! Now...the predicament is, what to do about getting these guys on film without scaring them...Hmmm....I backed up very slowly, hugged the other side of the pavement as much as I could and had my co-pilot Cutti direct me to the spot. The road was a one-way so they (Tanagers) were as close as 4 feet from my car door. I didn't know how I was going to pull this off...

Obviously I got my shot, but it was cra-zy, that they didn't fly off...

There ended up being 3 of them on various oak trees...

I took all kinds of pictures until they flew away into the forest.

We found them again alittle south of the first sighting, along with a female.

It was a GREAT day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Even More Yardbirds

Another Indigo Bunting made an appearance in my yard and at my feeder.

My Oriole has mastered the art of drinking from the hummingbird feeder.

I have read that orioles will kill hummingbirds in their territory, so I am a little bothered by this. I already have an oriole feeder with orange halves, but he also likes this sugar feeder. Any thoughts on this subject?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Raccoon Hammock

I hope everyone is having a nice Memorial Day...Most of us have a day off from the daily grind and I plan on taking it easy today like this raccoon!

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

I wish I would have taken a distant shot of this fella. You could see this guy in the tree from the parking lot, but didn't know exactly what it was. I couldn't believe it was in this particular tree, given its lack of cover.
Taken 2nd week in April.

If you see "Poppy's" please support the Veterans!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Variety of Squirrels in Illinois

It seems that I have photographed all of the varieties of squirrels found in Illinois this year. So... I gathered them all for a final post about the different species:

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is a slender rat-sized rodent weighing about 8 ounces with a length of about 10 inches including a tail of 3 inches. As its name implies, 13 stripes run the length of this ground squirrel’s body. Five of the light-colored lines break up into a series of spots as they progress down the back and over the rump. Five light and four dark stripes extend along the top of the head and end between the animal’s eyes.

Chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae). There are about 20 species of western chipmunks and one species of eastern chipmunk in USA and Canada. Chipmunks can be found in woodlands, forest edges, bushes, gardens, parks, around houses or cemeteries. They have reddish-brown fur, with white and black stripes on their back. They also have long flat bushy tails.

Pine squirrels are small tree squirrels with bushy tails, and apart from the members of the genus Sciurus, they are probably the members of the large family Sciuridae that conform most closely to the commonly held idea of what a squirrel looks like and how it behaves.

Black squirrels are a melanistic phase of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. They are common in Midwestern North America and, in some places, outnumber the grey squirrels by a ratio of about ten to one.

The Fox Squirrel is the largest of the tree squirrels found in Illinois. It gets its name from its color that sometimes resembles a red fox. Fox Squirrels have large bushy tail with yellow-tipped hairs.

Now, about this particular squirrel, I have yet to be able to identify it (it's not an albino), so if anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated. There are 3 in the park of the same color-blondish-and has a heavier coat and seems to be slightly larger than fox squirrels.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mute Swan & Mallard Ducklings

Mute Swans are always a beautiful site to see in the wild. I can usually spot them twice a year during migration. A good stop over for them is where 3 rivers meet & where American White Pelicans make the same place a resting stop.

This particular Swan seemed to be alittle too "tame". It approached me as I walked to the shore, suggesting it has probably been fed by humans. (I ruled out a tame swan "on the loose", because of past sitings in this exact locale.)

Note: As an introduced species it is of concern because of its effects on native wildlife. Its aggressive nature can disrupt the nesting of native waterfowl. It is protected in some states, but not others. Some states are attempting to control Mute Swan numbers. The Mute Swan is reported to mate for life. However, changing of mates does occur infrequently, and swans will remate if their partner dies. (Source: All About Birds)

My first ducklings of the season! There were a total of 7, but getting them all in 1 shot was nearly impossible. I guess I never knew just how active they were until I observed these little guys. It was non-stop action and I felt sorry for poor mom, having to look after these guys going in every direction.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Daytime Nighthawk

Stopping at my local warbler station, I set up my comfy camp chair and relaxed under the bluest sky nil of clouds. The light breezes and sunshine made for the perfect 70-ish degree day. I didn't care if I saw a bird or not; it was more about soaking in the gorgeous day and what it had to offer. Then something flew over my head...

It took me a few seconds, because I have only seen these once before during the daylight hours and they were extremely high in the sky at the time... A Nighthawk!-WOW!

Then another and another and another...COOL! I watched them circle above me for awhile, then head north...It got me thinking maybe I should follow them, so I did.

I found about 10 of them at a pond within the park, swooping down low... like swallows do. They were feeding! I took all the shots I could, but these guys are really really fast! They fed and they left, and I have to say that I was so disappointed when they did. I had such a good time with them as they were buzzing around my head. Who can say they got to spend a few minutes watching nighthawks feed, up close and personal? It was truly...amazing!

Cool Facts: Pursuing flying insects at dusk and dawn, the Common Nighthawk can be seen flying its floppy flight in rural or urban areas. Its white wing patches and eratic flight make it look like a big bat with headlights, and it is known in some areas as the "bullbat." It also has a tiny beak with a large gape, surrounded by stiff feathers called rictal bristles, which help the bird catch its aerial prey. The male Common Nighthawk has a dramatic booming display used during the breeding season. He flies around at a moderate height, then dives straight toward the ground. Somewhere just about two meters from the ground he turns upward. At the bottom of the dive he flexes his wings downward, and the air rushing through his wingtips makes a deep booming sound. The dives are directed at females, young nighthawks, intruders, and even people. (Source: All About Birds)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lighting is Everything!

I was so happy with the lighting on this series that I had to share a few...

The contrast of the yellows and the greens complimented each other for a bright picture.

Yellow Warblers are abundant if you know where to look at this time of year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good Intentions

I saw a cute picture over at Richards blog that I just loved and actually gave it to my significant other as a joke. We both thought it was hilarious, and then on sunday, this bunny made the joke come alive. As the bunny was eatin, we were quoting the words...and ahhhh, it just tickled me to no end...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bluebird Security

Security: Everybody needs it. We all provide some of our own on different levels. Some of us have had security broken on some level, which causes more drastic measures for protection, and the bottom line is, we have property to protect. It is no different for Bluebirds. They have duties to perform for nature and life, so protecting their home is of extreme importance.

Male Eastern Bluebird on sentry duty protecting his home nearby.

Same male

Guarding territory is a Bluebird trait during breeding season. NOTE: At the house opening, a "real" conservation lady placed some wet wipes into the hole to keep a sparrow out. We felt bad for the bluebird wanting to use this box, and eventually pulled the wipes out ourselves, when the sparrow was gone.

I found 2 separate sites specific of this behavior.

Female Bluebird on sentry duty.