Monday, May 31, 2010

Wondrous Warblers

The spring season is always a magical time in the Midwest. Warmer temperatures bring along a wide array of colorful migrating warblers. Some delight us with their beauty throughout the summer months and others stop for only a brief visit as they make their way north.

A stunning Chestnut-sided Warbler searches for sustenance

A lovely Magnolia Warbler forages amid the branches

An energetic black-capped Wilson's Warbler pauses for a moment

A Blackburnian Warbler displays his vibrant orange throat feathers

The striking chestnut cap of a Palm Warbler

This yellow-bellied Nashville Warbler was spotted high in the treetops

A resplendent Yellow Warbler delights my ears with a bouncy tune

A Yellow-rumped Warbler hover-gleans magnificently in the tree canopy

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nature's Pallete: Fiery Reds and Radiant Oranges

At the beginning of the week, temperatures soared and Chicago sweltered under a blazing hot sun. In keeping with this sizzling theme, I feature fiery red and radiant orange feathered friends.

The brilliant chili pepper red feathers of a male Scarlet Tanager

The throat of a Blackburnian Warbler reminds me of glowing embers

The blazing fire engine red cap of a Red-bellied Woodpecker

These Barn Swallows display beautiful terra cotta colored throats and subtle cantaloupe orange breast feathers

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird shows off his best iridescent asset

This female Balitmore Oriole is a lovely shade of butternut squash orange

The feathers of a male Balitmore Oriole are similar in color to sightly California poppies

The vibrant tangerine orange plumage of an American Redstart

The eyes of a Wood Duck resemble the lustrous red of a hibiscus flower

The deep pumpkin orange breast feathers of an American Robin

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nature's Palette: Breathtaking Blues

Mother Nature delights our eyes by showcasing a wide range of colors. Today I feature beautiful breathtaking blues.

The Prussian Blue feathers of an Indigo Bunting

Blue Jay feathers have a variety of tones including striking Cobalt Blue

A Black-crowned Night Heron displays it's deep Rembrandt Blue plumage

An Eastern Bluebird shows off his radiant Cerulean Blue feathers

The subtle Powder Blue tones of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A Mallard offers a glimpse of her brilliant Ultramarine Blue plumage

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nature Flourishes Along Chicago's Lakefront

When you think of the city of Chicago, what comes to mind? Towering skyscrapers? Fabulous shopping on the Magnificent Mile? Decadent deep-dish pizza? The Bears? Corrupt politicians? I suspect a haven for nature is not often thought of.

Surprisingly, there are several locations along Chicago's scenic lakefront where beautiful nature and wildlife can be found. Two favorite gems of mine are North Pond Nature Sanctuary and Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. Below are a series of photographs taken at these small but special preserves where nature florishes.

Two precious downy goslings enjoy a dip in the pond

 A Gray Catbird pauses from dining on tasty Sumac seeds

A colorful Green Heron hunts for a finned lunchtime meal

The striking masked face of a Common Yellowthroat

A Black-crowned Night Heron hides amid the leaving tree buds

The beautiful markings of a Yellow-rumped Warbler

A pretty Palm Warbler alights upon a blossoming branch

A queue of Red-eared Sliders rest atop a log

A diminutive Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flits from branch to branch

A lone Ovenbird perches upon a limb

Two Mallard ducklings delight in a late morning swim

The click of my camera shutter wakes a napping Red Fox

... though, only momentarily

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Big Catch!

Camera in hand, eyes focused upward to the blossoming tree canopy, I stroll quietly in search of colorful warblers and other migrating birds. I wander along a newly laid wood mulch trail that borders North Pond, a body of water teeming with a variety of fish, flora and fauna. My concentration is interrupted by the sound of flapping wings followed by a hushed thunk. I follow the disturbance to a sizable fallen tree that arcs out over the resplendent pond. There, atop the thick, mossy, horizontal trunk stands a beautifully hued Green Heron with quite a mouthful. Upon closer inspection, I see the Green Heron is quite the skilled fisherman. A large, glistening Bluegill is the unfortunate meal today.

I have observed several Green Herons before and their usual appearance is one of a multicolored football, perched on a tree limb, skulking stance, ready to strike. Much like the photo below.

Today, my first view was this ...

What to do next with this rather large catch ...

Perhaps a few steps will help send the fish to the depths ...

A quick twist will surely assist ...

Down the gullet with this mullet!

A long stretch of the neck will benefit a speck ...

A satisfying lick of the beak, end to an admirable technique

Finishing up with a long slurp ... or was that a burp?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Golden Moments at the Marsh

I wake early, eager with anticipation for an excursion down to the marsh. I step outside to a sleepy sun peeking through the trees and gentle breezes whispering between the pines. My ears perk, delighted with the various joyful tunes of an avian chorus. In the distance, a proud rooster crows ... ah, country living. Making my way through the deep forest on a roughly trod deer trail, I am careful to avoid the ever unpleasant poison ivy plants. I wander along a shallow ravine blanketed in fresh green undergrowth. As I near the marsh, it is as if the radio tuning dial has been changed. The previous station featured flute-like trills of House Wrens, clear, whistled melodies of Northern Cardinals and a bright, sing-song aria from a lone Scarlet Tanager. The new station showcases bouncy, sweet lilts sung by Yellow Warblers, reedy musical tunes and metallic tinks from Red-winged Blackbirds and comical trumpeting honks of Sandhill Cranes.

Spying brightness up ahead, I part the densely leaved branches to a forest of weatherworn cattails and burping frogs. Stepping gingerly atop the spongy marsh floor, a magical scene appears before my eyes. The rising sun casts it's golden warmth upon a marsh filled with budding slough flora and tattered cattails. Bright, fluttering gold speckles the wetlands. I situate myself in amongst 10 foot tall cattails, along the edge of a meandering stream that hosts a variety of wildlife including frogs, turtles, ducks, beavers and Sandhill Cranes. I quietly stand and observe ... What follows are a few of my golden moments at the marsh.

A Yellow Warbler seeks the perfect seed

A Yellow Warbler sings a merry tune

A Common Yellowthroat perches amongst the cattails

A Yellow Warbler looks out over the marsh

An American Goldfinch shows off his vibrant feathers

A Common Yellowthroat joins in the chorus

A female Yellow Warbler croons a pretty melody

The lovely plumage of a Yellow Warbler

A Yellow Warbler pauses on a flowering limb