Female Ruddy Duck
Male American Kestrel
Today my husband and I traveled about two hours south of our home to some state wildlife preserves. It was a crystal clear day with very little wind. We left over 9 inches of snow at our house, and by the time we reached our destination there was no snow, and the temperature was in the low 50s. It was a great day for exploring!
Our first stop was Banner Marsh in the Canton, Illinois area. There were so many great marsh areas to explore, but we didn’t go very far because we could hear the gunfire from the duck hunters. We saw several species of ducks, a blue heron, and these beautiful mute swans.
The next stop was Emiquon Preserve in Lewiston, Illinois. The area is amazing! The views were breathtaking, and the lake had several types of waterfowl, some that I have never seen before. Unfortunately most of the birds were too far out to get good photos, however I managed to get an acceptable photo of a ruddy duck. This was the first time that I have seen this species.
We also paid a short visit to Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in Havana, Illinois. This area is definitely worth a trip back. There are hiking trails, observation platforms, marsh areas, and wooded areas that are worth exploring. This was the last stop of the day, and we needed to get back home, so we did not stay long. However, I was able to spot a beautiful male kestrel on our way out of the refuge. I had hoped for a closer shot (this one was cropped quite a bit) but he didn’t like our intrusion in his hunting area.
I am definitely looking forward to the next time I am able to travel back to the Havana area! I think I might make it a two-day trip:-)
We were jolted into winter last night when received over nine inches of snow! The temperatures fell into the mid twenties today, and tonight it is supposed to be in the single digits. Just last weekend we enjoyed temperatures in the mid sixties and thought that winter was a long way off. Even though we have had several hard frosts, my delphinium has still been blooming. I think this might be it’s last hurrah!
My backyard looks like a winter wonderland. Deep, wet snow has coated the trees, bushes, and my bird feeders. I went outside first thing this morning and cleared the snow (after one of the feeders had already fallen over). The birds were very appreciative and were very active all day long.
Eurasian Collared Dove
Today was a cloudy, windy, and warm day. It wasn’t the greatest day for photography, but I decided to venture out to see if there was anything out and about. I saw very little wildlife and was getting ready to head home when I spotted this bald eagle hunting in the shallow waters of the Mississippi River. I am looking forward to seeing many more of these beautiful birds during the winter months!
Today I was treated to a wonderful lunch surprise! Sitting on the fence right next to my house was this beautiful Cooper’s Hawk. I was amazed that he was willing to pose for a lengthy photo shoot before escaping to shelter of our maple tree.
This weekend as I was out and about it struck me how quickly the beautiful fall colors in my area have faded. Sure, there are a few trees that have hung on to their beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves, and my knockout roses are still blooming, but most everything else has put on the browns, grays, and tans of winter. Most of the insects have left for their winter homes. So, I am struggling to find interesting things to photograph. One of my favorite subjects are waterfowl, but we are right in the middle of hunting season, so finding a subject on or near the water to photograph is really difficult. So, when I went for an afternoon hike on Sunday I decided to leave my camera at home. Instead, I focused on finding some things to use in a fall arrangement. It was a really nice experience, simply enjoying being out and taking in the changing of the season. Winter is just around the corner.