I like to post images the walks I take along the I & M Canal.
My friend Mary asked where I find all of this scenery, so I'm posting my path.
I start walking at the I & M Canal Access off McLinden Road. Take Hansel Road to where it ends at McLinden Road, then turn left. Just over the bridge is parking area to the left. It is very open and safe. You can also catch McLinden on Route 6 just west of Ridge Road.
I walk toward Morris, about two miles. The whole walk has so much to enjoy, but the area just after Tabler Road is beautiful. This is the lock system at Aux Sable Creek. You'll find an aqueduct that carries the canal over the creek, the locks and a little bypass creek that ends with a waterfall. They've done a nice job with bridges and sheltered places to sit. If you wanted to skip the walk, you can take Cemetary Road just past Tabler Road. Once you cross Aux Sable Creek you'll find a small parking area.
Looks like it will be sunny tomorrow. Might be a nice day to go exploring!
Tuesday Tools | Birds of Illinois Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
I'm into gadgets. Craftsman or Apple. Doesn't matter... I'm a gadget guy. I'll share some favorites. On Tuesdays, I post stuff that works.
OK, you may look at this gadget and think, "Isn't that a book? It's not Wednesday."
True, it is a book, but not one you sit down and read. It's a reference book. A paper app!
If you like looking at birds or are curious about the world around you, Stan Tekiela produced an amazing set of field guides on birds, animals, wildflowers and trees. His website is also helpful: naturesmart.com
I picked this up at Sam's years ago. You can get it on Amazon. Don't live in Illinois? Lucky you....I mean, that's OK...he's produced books for many states around the country. Check out his amazon author page for options.
I like this guide for many reasons:
1. It is tabbed by color. When you site a bird, determine its dominant color, then look it up.
2. The pictures are vivid and they are actual pictures, not drawings.
3. Every page has a section called Stan's Notes. They are incredibly descriptive and often point out several unique characteristics that help identify the bird. I still remember the first time I saw what I thought was a Baltimore Oriole. I was not sure if they even lived in Illinois. He writes, "Fantastic songers, you are likely to hear this bird before seeing it." He was dead-on accurate. I heard the song and thought, "I've never heard a bird like that before." I started to search and spotted him at the top of the tree. The last part of his description says, "They sit in the tops of trees feeding on caterpillars." The description was a perfect match. I now have an Oriole feeder. They live in my yard all summer.
4. Like many guide books, it provides a map showing when and where the birds live.
5. Many times he includes an image of the female too, especially if there is a stark difference.
6. The picture and description is on the same page. Other books divide them up. For me, this is better.
If you have kids, this is a great book to take on a walk along a nature trail. It is very compact, and simple enough for them to use. If you're in Scouts or another outdoor-oriented club, it's indispensable.
BTW...I saw the bird on the cover several times this past week while camping in Wisconsin. The first time I ever saw one it was drinking out of a puddle on the sidewalk in front of Bob and Carol Mores' house in Joliet. It looked surreal, like a miscolored Cardinal. Know what it is? I do. I looked it up in this guide as soon as I got home.
We all know it has been a strange late winter/spring. We're seeing buds burst and lawns mowed weeks before normal.
For the past few weeks, I thought I saw a hummingbird (can't help but hear an Elmer Fudd accent while writing that!). Its pattern of flight tends to look more like a large insect than a small bird. I just kept chalking it up to my imagination.
We are dominated by gold finches, house finches and sparrows. I also attract some cardinals (the good kind, not the baseball players), orioles (again, not baseball players) and gross beaks. Almost forgot...woodpeckers (couple kinds), nuthatches, chickadees, titmice and juncos.
One of my favorites is the hummingbird.
In the past, I placed our hummingbird feeder near our back tree.
This year I moved it up by our house in full sun.
The hummingbirds loved the spot.
We had a few regulars all summer long.
One bird (nicknamed Hummy...creative, I know) claimed the feeder as his own.
The image in the post is of Hummy.
Sorry it isn't clearer. I took it through the window with my phone.
He did something I've never seen before. Hummy would land and perch for several minutes at a time.
It was amazing to really get a close look at this tiny bird.
Flying, they look smaller than a dragon fly. It's easy to mistake them for a giant bumblebee.
I'm not sure if it is characteristic of all hummingbirds, but we observed that Hummy was very territorial. He would sit, perched, looking all around. When one of the other hummers came for a drink, the chase would be on!
One of the coolest moments of the summer happened one morning when I was filling the feeder. Hummy didn't know I was standing there. He flew up and hovered about 1 foot from my face for about 15 seconds. The sound was crazy amazing. It was a moment of sheer wonder.
I saw Hummy yesterday (October 17).
Seems like he should be headed south by now.
Every time I see him, I know it may be the last time until spring.
Ever want to know more about attracting a wide variety of birds, and how to avoid the nasty ones, I'd be glad to talk.