Category Archives: Travel

I found summer!

Summer had yet to arrive in our part of the country when we left home yesterday. The high temp in our part of Lake County, Illinois was just 60°F whereas the normal is 76°F. Tomorrow & Saturday are predicted in the low 70’s. After driving south for the past two days, I know where summer has been hiding. OMG it’s hot here!

This afternoon we had a hot, sweaty picnic at the lovely Georgia Veterans State Park where we were joined by curious Northern Mockingbirds and a few Common Grackles watching us from Spanish moss-covered trees. We took a short walk there after lunch and actually saw our first ever Tufted Titmouse. They range in our part of Illinois but for some reason they are kind of hard to find in our county.

We’re now staying at a hotel close to the Space Coast with the main goal of seeing the Space Shuttle launch on Saturday morning. But first, some (hopefully good) birding!

There is a group of Least Terns flying around the roof of our hotel, transporting fish and making a lot of noise. Are they feeding young?

While trying to make a video of the tern shenanigans, this flock of White Ibis flew by. Can’t wait to see some more southern birds tomorrow!

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Skywatch Friday: The Pinery

On April 29th, on our way from Chicagoland to Niagara Falls, we stopped at The Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario. It was a huge and beautiful park and I was so sorry we did not have time to explore. We kept our visit very short but were able to walk the .8 km Pine Trail before hitting the highway once more.

The Pine Nature Trail

The trail lived up to its name. Beautiful tall pine trees reached up to the bright blue sky.

Pines @ the Pinery

Not all trees were green yet, though. It probably won’t be too long now though, I imagine, before these are also full of leaves soaking in the sun.

Reaching Trees

The last part of the trail was flooded. We walked around the water and headed back to the car. The refreshing walk was a welcome break between many hours of highway driving.

Flooded Trail

Be sure to visit Skywatch Friday to see the other stories of the sky submitted for this week.

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Scene-stealing gulls at Niagara Falls

Gulls were plentiful at Niagara Falls. I saw both Herring and Ring-billed. I’m no gull hero so I certainly could have missed other species.

This Ring-billed Gull drew a small crowd of photographers as it posed in front of the Falls on the Canadian side.

Rainbow & Ring-billed Gull

I couldn’t resist a shot, myself. I suppose I ‘should have’ gotten the Falls in the shot too, but I was only thinking about this one-legged beauty.

One-legged Gull
Gulls lined the rocky walls of the Niagara River. Part of the state park on the American side was closed off for breeding gulls.

Roosting Gulls

These high-adrenaline gulls actually bathed in the Niagara River, not too far from the falls. Now that’s some fresh water!

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Not birding at Niagara Falls

It was a whirlwind trip: less than 80 hours and over 1300 miles. The goal: see Niagara Falls. No time for birding. Yeah, right!

The falls were extremely impressive. Here are the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

Horseshoe Falls

And here are the American Falls, with a Maid of the Mist boat in the foreground.

American Falls

Walking along the river on the Canadian side, we soaked in the views. I soaked in a few Canadian birds, too, so I was always running behind. And then this was the view I had of my family for most of the day.

I'm always behind!

The birds weren’t rare, but that’s okay. I love them all, from the little House Sparrow sitting on a lamp…

House Sparrow on Lamp

… to the female Red-winged Blackbird pausing to drink out of a discarded bottle cap.

Female Red-winged Blackbird

I bet this Canadian-American Robin hardly ever gets a second look from passers-by as he forages for worms, with the roaring Falls behind him.

Canadian-American Robin

Cormorants were everywhere, posing on rocks by the Falls…


… flying overhead in flocks…

Cormorants over Niagara Falls

… and dipping in the water.

Cormorant swimming in Niagara River

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