Winded and a Bit Slow

5/31/2022


The year is blowing by. Almost literally. We have had high winds for a number of days here, recently. With the holiday weekend, I had grand plans of three days of uninhibited birding. No such luck.


Things went a little pear-shaped Friday night. In short, I needed to stay close to home to potentially handle some paperwork. Luckily, I was able to take care of it over the phone the next morning. Since I had to stay close to home, I ditched my original plans and headed out to The Crest behind Eagle Creek Park. I wanted to check on the Henslow's situation and see if anything had moved into the prairie that was burned. The usual area was burned again this year. The other areas of the prairie have not been touched in years. They just keep re-burning the same area. The back area is so overgrown with Bradford Pear that you cannot walk it. Nothing short of a chain saw will reclaim it. The far end is starting to grow up heavily in trees, too. The burned area was low, lush, and barren. There were a few Field Sparrows. No Grasshopper Sparrow. Definitely no Henslow's. I checked the far end had one Henslow's that popped up when I pished. I did have a pair of Eastern Kingbirds work their way around me while I was walking the field. I played a little tag with them, but they never let me get close enough to get a good shot. They would let me take a distant shot and then fly off a short ways. The morning ended with me wandering across a slightly more cooperative Yellow Warbler. The wind had picked up by this point, and I needed to make some phone calls; so, I headed home.


Saturday, I got up "late" and drove up to Prophetstown. Late was 5:15 and out the door by 5:30. I have not been paying attention, and sunrise is at 6:30. I was a half hour late for sunrise at Prophetstown. The wind was not overly favorable by the time I arrived. Convincing sparrows to perch up in tall, spindly grasses in high winds is pretty much a losing proposition. Combine that with the inherent stubbornness of sparrows, and it gets difficult quick. I was really hoping to come across some Henslow's in all the spiderwort blooming up there. It is one of my favorite plants, and Henslow's are one of my favorite birds. Seems like a good combination. Much like The Crest, though, the spiderwort areas had been burned this year. No Henslow's anywhere near them. Instead, they were all packed in closely together in the meadow, which looks like this, right now.

Full-frame of Henslow's Sparrow in grass.

First thing in the morning, I could not get on the right side of the light; so, I was shooting some backlit shots.

Backlit Henslow's Sparrow
Another backlit Henslow's Sparrow

Often, while trying to pish one bird out, I would notice another was perched up and staring at me. I had higher hopes for this shot.

Henslow's Sparrow singing from perch

In general, it was nice to be out and see so many Henslow's Sparrows. Dickcissel were plentiful but uncooperative. I saw several females foraging food. Blue Grosbeak were nearly absent. For a place I count on seeing several, I heard one the whole morning. Sedge Wrens were absent; not unexpected this time of year. I had two Grasshopper Sparrow. Common Yellowthroat were not... plentiful. I also only heard a couple of Eastern Meadowlark. That is a bit odd for the park. I did find a Chipping Sparrow. That was a bit unexpected. In general, it was not the morning I was hoping for. I tend to make my first visit here a little later in the summer. I hope my future trips are a bit better. Again, I am sure the wind did not help.

There are reasons why I rarely put my camera up before I get home. Right as I passed out of the entrance gate to head home, I noticed an Eastern Meadowlark strutting through the grass along the road. They are infamously shy, and I expected it to fly as soon as I parked. It did not. I leaned across the front seat and poked the camera out the passenger window. I managed a couple shots as it quickly foraged through the grass. It even paused and belted out a couple of calls before remembering it was shy and flying off. Not aa bad ending to the morning.


Monday, I took the day off of work and birding. The winds were already pretty strong by the time I got up. (I slept in until the late hour of 8:00.) I got things done around the house and processed some pics. I am heading out on a small vacation soon. I have a lot to get done before I take off. Hopefully, I can squeeze in a little birding this next weekend. It is a short week! The weekend will be here soon.


Thanks for reading,

Mike



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