Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Magic Hedge, Post 1/2 - April 6, 2012

So April 6th was my first trip to the Magic Hedge for the season.  Not a whole lot there yet, and nothing *terribly* exciting, but a few new things and some nice signs of spring.

There was one thing that has me wondering what the season will be like at the Hedge.  They did a massive slash and burn.  I *do* know that burns are part of keeping a wild habitat vibrant and sustainable.  But the vast majority of the area is prairie savannah and all of the tall grasses and flowers have been taken down.  All that's there now is about a month's growth of ground cover plants.  Which means there's no real good places to look for caterpillars or butterflies.  All the birds have taken to the very high trees.

Now, maybe it'll be better in a month or so when some of the prairie grasses have a chance to recover, but right now, there's a whole lot of nothing out there.  Well, not *nothing*... but not a whole lot yet, either.

This is a House Finch.  I'm not sure if I've not seen these before or if I was calling them female Northern Cardinals.  Either way, they're new!  Yay.

House Finch (2012 - 016)

Another House Finch.  Just a different view.  Hopefully the next time I see them, I'll get clearer shots, but these guys *are* skittish.

Brown Creeper (2012 - 017)

A creeper!  My first one for the season.  There will be another one in the North Pond shots that will go up next, but here was the first.

The finch and the creeper are both birds that migrate through Chicago, so it was good to see signs of the migration season starting.  It's a few weeks early, but with the very bizarre weather we had this winter and early spring, this is not surprising.  I just hope we don't get socked with a surprise really bad cold snap that would be very bad for warm-climate birds.

Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker (2012 - 018)
The flickers have come back in.  This particular flicker is a male Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker.  His most distinguishing feature (in terms of telling him apart from other forms of flickers) is the black patches on his cheeks.

Now, I know I saw a small flock of them on the ground at Lincoln Park last year, but apparently they never made it to the blog.  I got some great shots of what looked like courting behaviors, but now when I go to look for them, I don't see them here, so I guess I never posted them.  So the good news is, it counts as a newly-blogged species. :)

It was a bit gray and cloudy when I was shooting, so my camera was jumping up to 800 ISO when on automatic settings.  Which is too bad, because this would have been a pretty good shot if it were less grainy.

Northern Cardinal.  They stay all year, and they're fairly common, but I still love seeing them.

Song Sparrow (2012 - 019)
This guy is a Song Sparrow.  Less common than the House Sparrows that we get by the millions (or so it seems).  It was awfully nice of him to turn and look at me while I was shooting him. :)
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (2012 - 020)

One of the effects of the burn is that the bunnies have all relocated.  They used to hang out in the grasses, but now they're chased into the more forest-y areas.  It makes them a bit harder to see, because at least when they were living in the grasses, they'd come out onto the paths to run and play with each other.

Just one more post for this shoot. Like I said, it was pretty slow and the savannah was gone.  So I'll keep going back to see how the habitat responds, but it could be a slow year at the Hedge. ;)

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