Last week I finally was able to go birding with my friend Bill. Between me being out of town, and then Bill being out of town, we hadn’t been exploring together since May. The day started out great; we got an early start at 6:30 and with the promise of a beautiful sunny day in the low 80s we were ready to get out and explore! Bill suggested Mautino State Fish and Wildlife Area near Sheffield, Illinois. He had been to the area, but I had not. The closer we got to the area the cloudier it got. What started out as a bright blue sky, became a cloudy gray mess of clouds. Not only was it cloudy, it was cold! We both had to put on our jackets to keep warm. We were disappointed with the cloudy, cold day and were not sure if we would see any birds worth photographing when Bill spotted him….a blue grosbeak! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had never seen this beautiful bird.
This was not only the first time I had photographed this bird, but it was the first “real” subject I had shot with my new camera, a Nikon 1 V3. This photo did not turn out as sharp as I would have liked, but to be fair, the grosbeak was rather far away; I was just happy to get the photo!
If you have never seen a dickcissel, they are small, beautiful birds that are very photogenic. There was an open field where they were very active, and Bill and I had several opportunities to capture them singing.
Next, we got in the car and drove down to an area where Bill had seen some barn swallows nesting under a shelter. Swallows are such beautiful birds!
Our next spotting was a cedar waxwing. He was perched at the top of a tree and sat without moving for the longest time. Every cedar waxwing I have seen in the past has been very skittish and difficult to photograph. This one seemed to be asking us to take pictures of him.
This cute little Thirteen-lined ground squirrel was enjoying the cool weather in the cemetery just outside of the wildlife area.
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
On our way home we decided to stop by Johnson Sauk Trail State Park in Kewanee, Illinois. The sky was still gray, and the temperature had not climbed out of the mid-sixties. We decided to hike the prairie to see if we could stir up anything. The first thing we saw was a female red-winged blackbird; she must have had a nest very close because she was very angry at us and stayed close.
Red-winged Blackbird Female
Even though it was cloudy, I really enjoyed my outing with my good friend Bill. The results I got with my new camera were good (althoughI still have a lot of work ahead of me). Summer is going way too fast and I need to remember to take time to smell the flowers; winter will be here before you know it!