The duck population at Whelon Lake has been enhanced by the arrival of many Lesser Scaups and a few Ring-necks. We also saw one (probably female) Oldsquaw in the mix. An interesting part of these observations is that we didn’t spot a single Mallard! The ice is gone, so they have the whole pond to enjoy, along with the resident gulls and (always noisy) geese.
A recent visit to the Whelon Lake Nature Area off Royce Road found some open water with lots of both Canvasback and Common Goldeneye ducks zig-zagging and diving among the resident population of gulls and Canada Geese. Whelon is such a bird-rich area and so accessible and close by — neat!
No sign of herons or egrets in this area yet, but maybe in a month or so. Not as many hawks in the skies so far this year, it seems.
On 10/24 (Wednesday) a routine trip over to the rookery site revealed only a couple of good ol’ Mallard pairs — until, that is, we heard a sort of buzz-saw/jackhammer sound coming from the right of where we were parked at the far west end of the rear parking lot, overlooking the near pond. Looking to see what was making all the noise, we spotted a Belted Kingfisher perched on an overhanging branch near the pond. He was in full sun and plain sight, and no doubt hungry. He didn’t make one of the classic dives these birds make to extract a fish from the water while we watched , but it was a ‘regal’ sighting nevertheless.
Also, there are still a few Herons around, but it seems that most, along with the Great Egrets, have departed.
Here’s an update on the rookery area, based on a number of recent visits. The near pond (west end, closest to the Costco back parking lot) almost dried up a month or so ago, but now has a modicum of water in it. Unfortunately, much of the surface has given way to heavy algae growth, and, combined with the plentiful infusion of water grasses, there is not a whole lot of open water left.
The good news is that the duck population seems not to care. Over the weekend and yesterday (Monday, 10/1) in fact, we have seen not only the usual Mallards, but several Wood Ducks!! Males and females of this remarkable species were there, along with numerous — and rather less glamorous — Pintails. Wood Ducks are really something to behold up close like that — a rare and memorable opportunity.
Also present at this point were both Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, flitting about in the nearby bushes and small trees. The migration is in full swing, it seems. And, to that point, we haven’t spotted a heron or egret there for a couple of weeks. One can’t tell if they’ve just left the area or left town.
Finally, it’s a pleasure to report that a pair of Blue Jays visited us the other day in the trees behind our Darien townhouse. We haven’t seen such in quite a long time!
What are you’re seeing . . ?
Well, it’s now meteorlogical fall, and sure enough, the Great Horned Owl(s) are letting us know it. After dark in the Carriage Greens golf course, Hoo-Hoo, Hoo Hoo! comes out of the trees along the 8th fairway. This is repeated dozens of times, at about twenty-second intervals. We haven’t seen him/her/them yet, but will keep looking!
Meantime, the Cardinals are becoming more frequent at the feeder, and the hummers are consuming what seems like gallons of nectar (well, probably only ounces, really), and spatting with each other for access to the good stuff.
While the herons are still in the vicinity of the rookery area, they are having company. On Thursday (7/19), we saw three Great Egrets over there! Two were hanging out on the nesting tree and another was ‘dabbling’ in the near pond. It’s still a mystery where these guys’ nests are (they clearly aren’t using the now-abandoned heron nests), but they are Great (pun intended!) to see. A couple weeks ago there was also a new Mallard family, but they seem to have left the area — presumably to find deeper water.
Today we encountered the Great Egret center of the world (or at least the nearby world). The Whalon Lake nature center is south off of Royce Road in Bolingbrook, a few miles west of Rte. 53. There are both shallow and deep (Whalon Lake itself) ponds there, and today there were at least 20 of these large white birds puddling around in the shallow areas. They were accompanied by one Great Blue Heron, numerous Herring gulls and too-many-to-count swooping and diving tree swallows.
In the lake, there were numerous Cormorants floating and diving, lots more gulls and a few ducks. A stiff east breeze was producing repeating white-caps. This is a very nice area, well worth the short trip to get there. A walking/biking path circles the lake. And, there also an off-lead dog park there!