A couple of times recently I went off on a hike without my camera. I mean, here we are in the middle of June and what could be so interesting to shoot? Boy was I wrong. (Don’t) take a look:
We went over the Morton Arb looking for the Blue Grosbeak and saw it from afar – no picture opportunity there. We bumped into Birder2011 who pointed out a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher building a nest. She got a nice shot of it (see Latest Pics). Below is the shot I couldn’t take:
Then we bumped into Birding Buddy Anna who said she just saw a Northern Mockingbird in a different part of the Arb. We hurried over because mockingbirds are very infrequent visitors and to have one in your backyard was amazing. It gave a great show while perched. Here’s the picture I’ll never get:
A day later we were in Starved Rock State Park. It was a family reunion for just my kids (2 + spouses) and grandkids (6). We took some long walks through the beautiful canyons there – the hiking was easy down in the bottom of the canyons because they were pretty dry due to the lack of rain. There was at least one or two Acadian Flycatchers in each canyon. These pretty little birds were singing loudly and flitted from branch to branch just above our head. Here’s a look of one of the Acadian Flycatchers I couldn’t take a picture of:
The next day we were in Mattiesson State Park in the Lower Dells canyon and I noticed a Louisiana Waterthrush fly by. I tracked it over by the trickle of water going through the canyon and actually saw two of them. Each one would grab an insect and then fly up to the cliff, presumably to feed a chick (I couldn’t see it). I got very close to the pair and watched them for 20 minutes as they walked along the bank catching insects. Here’s not one of the Louisiana Waterthrushes with a bug in it’s beak:
On the last day of our stay we went back to Starved Rock State Park and hiked in the beautiful St. Louis Canyon. As we turned to head back I noticed a female Brown-headed Cowbird land on a nest and poke around in it. After a few seconds it withdrew its head with an egg clenched in its beak! As you know, Cowbirds are infamous for laying their eggs in other birds’ nests – and to give their offspring the best chance sometimes they remove or destroy the host bird’s eggs. The Cowbird took off with the egg in its beak with another bird hot in pursuit. Here’s a non-picture of the Cowbird removing the egg from the nest.
All kidding aside, it’s amazing what you can miss without your camera. Sometimes I drag it around for hours, but it just takes one cooperative bird or unique situation to make it all worthwhile. Lesson learned: Take Your Camera With You!
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