Spring Bulbs, Waterfowl, and a Snake

After some snow last week the weather warmed up again and it is feeling like spring.

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Cheery crocuses

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Mini daffodils

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Rhubarb emerging last week.  Already the leaves are much bigger today.

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I heard reports of common loons in our area on their way north and I went to the Sagahashkee Slough to see if I could spot any.  It was a cloudy day and I did not see loons, but enjoyed watching other waterfowl.

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There were maybe 40- 50 American coots on the west end of the slough.  A fisherman was seeing what he could catch, but he told me he had not caught any fish.

IMG_7193 American coots

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I spent a while trying to get a picture of this guy, that I think is a horned grebe with breading plumage.

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Another view of the male horned grebe.

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I wondered if this could be the female or a juvenile as it seemed nearby without the yellow head plumage.  It was continually diving for food.

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By the lake I came across a rugged path along the south side of the slough that I will have to come back and explore with Dan some time.  I continue to be amazed at how many places there are still for us to explore for the first time in the Palos forest preserves.

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Unidentified seed heads by the lake.

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Mosses on tree trunk

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There was a large patch of little blue flowers by the side of the path.

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As I walked along the path I just about stepped on this little garter snake.  It was maybe 15 inches long.  I poked the tail very gently with a stick to try to get it to move out of my way.

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It curled up and showed me its red tongue, but I had more room to get by.  I like how this picture captures the design.

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I drove to Maple lake to see if there might be loons there, but it was hard to get close enough to the birds and my camera battery was dying.  I managed to get a picture of a red-breasted merganser couple.

I was going to end with a short video of a muskrat at Lake Katherine, but I am having trouble getting it to upload, so maybe another time….

Snow Crocus

The days are getting longer…  Green shoots are coming out of the ground.  It is fun to step out into the yard and see a flower blooming at the end of February.

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Snow crocuses on February 27th in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

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All over the yard daffodil shoots are coming up.  These ones near the north side of the house are the tallest.

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I hear new bird calls in the yard each day, and sometimes I don’t recognize the calls.  This week I noticed these birds in the yard: robins, cardinals, black-capped chickadees, mourning doves, and even a white breasted nuthatch, which I could not get a good picture of for this post.  The sandhill cranes continue to fly north over our neighborhood.