Finally getting back to this blog thingy. I’ve been extremely busy this month – well, let’s go with busier than norm. My life seems to be in constant motion thanks to way too many honey-do items, a hell of a lot of work to keep my country homestead under control, a running passion that probably borders on addiction, year-round Halloween prop building and oh, that little thing called my day job. It’s rather amazing there’s time left to actually go in the field and snap our feathered friends.
Luckily, there’s plenty of outings still in the queue to pull from. Today’s featured specimen comes to us courtesy of Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Spring Grove, IL. As mentioned several times now, that park is one of our favorites in IL. Varied habitats ranging from wetlands/river to deep woods and all the way to acres and acres of natural prairie. Well maintained trails allow for easy navigation between the settings giving ample opportunity to shoot a wide range of birds. Although are standard goal there is to get the large Sandhill Cranes in the tin, we definitely take time out to for the smalls.
Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the Yellow Bandit..
Since I was recently reminded of the depth of my backlog by a friend of the blog, thought I’d mix it up a bit and go super fresh. A relative term, of course, but it isn’t very common you get to read about an encounter that is only ONE year old. That’s right, our little masked specimen here was found back in June 2019. Not bad eh? Truth be told, there are plenty of older posts just waiting for the call up to the big leagues. We’ll get to those soon enough. Right now the focus is on the Common Yellowthroat. Truly a uniquely paletted bird from its overall yellow tone, the white visor bar and of course the “give me all your seed” black face mask. This male specimen was very accommodating to my photography needs making sure I had ample opportunity to tin various angles giving a really good experience for those not familiar with this New World Warbler.
Although consider extremely common across North and Central America depending on the season (they push south during nonbreeding times), it hasn’t really been until the last several years that I’ve really noticed them out and about. Cannot recall actually seeing these Warblers much in my early years of birding, however, they tend to come out and greet me at just about every run these days. They may be difficult to locate quickly due to their knack of staying lower in the vegetation and often obscured by leaves and other underbrush. No worries, their distinctive call can get you in the general vicinity fairly quickly. Their song closely mimics the witchety-witchety-witchety reference pattern. Apparently they like to hear themselves sing as Cornell’s website noted they can emit this chant upwards of 300 times per hour. Note, Ron has this song down pat and has an amazing ability to pick it out instantly in the field. Based on my encounters while running, suspect the witchety means “what a shitty runner” in Yellowthroat speak. Running hecklers are the worst!
Yikes, seeing the exposure change on the last shot means I must be out of images – put that at the end as I liked the composition, but need to go back and deepen that a bit more. I wanted a rich yellow/green feel to the shots to compliment the bird and ended up liking the richer color over the brighter hues in the last shot. Maybe you like the lighter tones instead – let me know in the comments, always like getting different perspectives.
By the way, my plant knowledge probably leveled off about the 2nd grade. A few rhymes to keep me out of the poisonous ones and a crash course on how much some of the prettier ones cost thanks to our yearly run to refresh our landscaping – beyond that, pretty much clueless other than what my wife points out to me (which is a surprisingly large amount thanks to being a lifelong Girl Scout). A long lead into the fact I have no idea what this plant in the images is. Definitely unique if not a bit menacing – envision that masked fiend breaking that bulb off, hitting me over the head with it as I ran by and then stealing my phone as I lay out cold on the trail. Wait, maybe witchety means “stickity-up” Now that makes a whole lot more sense – always wondered what a bird would care about how good of a runner I was .. if nothing else, I feel a lot less humiliated now… and more concerned about losing my expensive phone. So, if you do happen to know the name of that plant, please let me know in the comments and double my plant knowledge ha!
Long live the smalls.