1. I went to the Morton Arboretum this past weekend, ostensibly to see the trees, as one would expect when making a trip to an arboretum. It occurred to me while there that I was in nature and it’s fall migration season, so in an instant the purpose of the trip switched from looking at the pretty fall colors to searching for pretty migratory (or resident, if I had to settle for it) birdies. And boy, did the arboretum deliver!
While on what will officially go down in my birding life as the first time I intentionally bird-watched, rather than accidentally stumbling across a bird while going about my daily life, I saw:
1) a Downy Woodpecker:
2) like five million Red-Bellied Woodpeckers (okay, maybe not five million, but there were a lot. There were so many I actually got familiar with their call! One more to add to the very short list of bird sounds I can recognize.) :
3) several female Myrtle’s Yellow-rumped Warblers, here shown displaying the reason for its name:
*dies* Such a cutie! And a new-to-me bird, too! Although, when I was waiting for the train downtown for my Open House Chicago adventures the weekend before, I saw a bird in a tree with a yellow butt, but I thought it was a female American Goldfinch. Now that I’ve seen this bird, I’m wondering if I actually saw a female Yellow-rumped Warbler instead. I’ll never know!
4) a White-breasted Nuthatch, here shown displaying its unique ability to climb headfirst down a tree (most birds can only climb up a tree, if they even have the ability to climb at all.)
5) an EASTERN BLUEBIRD, which was the last bird I saw for the day, and, being my favorite birdie of all the birdies AND the one most cooperative to being photographed, was the highlight of my day:
Also, can we please discuss this goofball? Who does that with their head? What a ham.
Just casually doing neck circles, nbd. As a bluebird does.
I also saw an American Robin, a Blue Jay, a Brown Creeper, and a few Chickadees, though they all went unphotographed. At one point, a Chickadee was hanging out with the previously pictured bluebird, which was basically all I could ever hope for out of birding, given that Chickadees are my second favorite birdies after bluebirds. I thought I got a picture of the two of them on the same branch, but I couldn’t find it later, so maybe not.
I also saw this bird, though I have yet to identify it with absolute certainty:
You will need to forgive my inability to get the bird in focus. I put one of the pictures into Merlin, and it told me it was an Eastern Kingbird, which would be a HUGE find if its true, because that bird was listed as RARE on Merlin (based on the location and time of year–rare doesn’t mean it’s endangered, just not likely to be where you were when you were there). Then I put a different picture into Merlin, and it said it couldn’t identify the bird. Additionally, when I went to log an Eastern Kingbird on my list on eBird, which allows you to create lists of the birds you’ve seen, for the day, the Eastern Kingbird wasn’t even an option for the list I was attempting to create for the Morton Arboretum (you have to say where you saw the bird before it gives you a list, and then it gives you a checklist of birds you may have seen. You enter the number of birds you saw next to the bird’s name (so next to Eastern Bluebird I entered “1,” for example).) So now I’m not so sure. I think it looks a lot like an Eastern Kingbird, and they do summer around here, and they have been spotted at the arboretum before (though never later than early September, from what I can tell), so it’s not impossible…just unlikely. But maybe I found a straggler? Someone who doesn’t realize it’s time to head south for the winter (I mean, can you blame him? It’s cold now, but it was in the mid 70s on Saturday.)?
In non-avian sightings, I also encountered this spider, who was one of the weirdest looking bugs I’ve ever seen:
All in all, a very successful afternoon spent in nature!
2. My other weekend trip was to Union Station to see the Daily Show’s Presidential Twitter Library, an extremely temporary (it only lasted through the weekend) exhibit of the various ways Trump has caused a seemingly endless amount of drama via Twitter over the years.
It truly was laugh-out-loud funny. They set it up like an actual museum/gallery, with tweets organized into displays by topic/drama caused. The best of the best (worst of the worst?) were framed, titled, and described on a plaque hanging below the frame, like you’d see at an art museum. There was also a “gone but not forgotten” display memorializing deleted tweets.
Aside from the creativity, I was super impressed that the Daily Show would put so much effort into something that was only on display for three days. It was really quite the setup!
3. Oh, Chicago Marathon. This race, ever desperate to get marathoners to sign up for the Shamrock Shuffle, sent an email to all marathon participants last week that included this fascinating piece of information:
Now, I don’t expect all of you to have my 8K PR memorized–I don’t even have the specific time memorized–but I knew beyond a doubt that I had never broken 40:00 at the Shamrock Shuffle (my PR, upon looking into it, is 41:32), and I also knew beyond a doubt that I generally run the Shamrock Shuffle at a MUCH faster pace than I run the marathon (usually somewhere in the 8:30 neighborhood, while my marathon pace, at least this past year, was closer to 11:30). It seemed wildly unlikely, to say the least, that I had somehow dropped nearly six full minutes off my 8K time, and that I did that during the marathon, no less. On top of all of that, since they did mark the 8K on the course this year, I looked at my watch when I got to that sign because I was curious how much slower my marathon 8K was compared to my usual Shamrock times, and my watch said I was at 52:xx. That left me with a burning question: why on earth did the marathon think I had dropped a 35:38 8K, when I knew for a fact that I most certainly did not?
So I pulled up my race results, and lo and behold: I crossed the 5K mark at 35:38 *headdesk* I wasn’t some anomaly here, either: everyone I know who got this email also had their 5K split listed as their 8K split. I don’t even remember if they even took our 8K splits?! I don’t remember a timing mat being at the 8K mark, but I also wasn’t paying that much attention, so it could’ve been there. Regardless, I think it’s hilarious that the marathon took our 8K “splits” 1.87 miles too early. Now I just need to figure out how to run an 8K 39 seconds/mile faster than the very, very fastest I’ve ever run a 5K so I can “beat my time” 😛
Have you ever been to the Morton Arboretum?
Have the trees changed where you live yet? I feel like nothing had turned last week, and now everything’s changed in a heartbeat. No complaints from me! I love fall colors 🙂