The word “warble” is defined as to sing or whistle with trills, quavers, or melodic, embellishments. According to the internet dictionary, it does not mean to look for warblers during spring migration. This is what brought me to Ryerson Woods in late May. Following the Illinois Birding Network group on Facebook, I had seen many beautiful warblers photographed at Ryerson Woods, so I decided to make an outing of it.
Arriving to Ryerson Woods
Ryerson Woods is located just off Interstate 94 in suburban Deerfield and is part of the Lake County Forest Preserve District. It took me about a half hour to drive there from the northwest side of Chicago.
I parked and walked the first trail out of the parking lot. It ended at a very flooded Des Plaines River. The bridge was out on the trail and a couple people were hanging out there. I doubled back to the parking lot passing a women on her cell phone as she was walking the trail. I do not get this. Stay in your car if you are going to have a long conversation.
Slow going the first part of the hike
I started walking down the road out of the forest preserve and then found a trail into the woods. The only signs of life were squirrels, robins, and red-winged blackbirds. I walked on the muddy trail over a few boardwalks. I finally saw something interesting when an indigo bunting appeared in the woods. The trail came close to the river, so I wandered down to the bank by a beautiful flowering tree.
Warblers and other birds along the Des Plaines River at Ryerson Woods
A scarlet tanager flew across the river, and I saw some potential warblers in the trees, so I decided this would be a good place to stake out. I ended up staying here for about four hours. I think my visit was a little past prime migration for the spring warblers, but I did see a nice variety.
The first warbler I saw and the most plentiful during the afternoon was a blackburnian warbler. There was at least one sometimes two in the towering trees above me. On the warbler front, I also saw bay-breasted, black-throated green, black-and-white, cape-may, and chestnut-sided warbler. I was excited to see the bay-breasted as this was a first for me.
A couple of times I saw this larger bird in the woods on a lower branch. I could not get a clear shot, so I did the best I could, so I could try and identify later. I am pretty sure it was a great-crested flycatcher. What threw me off is there is really not much of a crest on the bird that I saw. Looking through other pictures of the bird, some have very pronounced crests while others do not, so I am pretty sure that it what it is. This is another new bird for me.
Speaking of new birds, a yellow warbler began flitting around on a smaller try right next to me. For ten minutes I patiently tried to get a clear shot. I finally did get one. I thought I was chasing a prothonatory warbler, but when I looked at my picture closer up, I saw it had a black eye bar. Doing a little research, I discovered it was a blue-winged warbler. Another new bird for me.
Other birds seen at Ryerson Woods
Besides the already mentioned warblers, I saw a cardinal, blue jays, eastern kingbird, a great blue heron, an unidentified bird of prey who quickly soared over my location, and eastern bluebirds back in the parking lot.
I failed to do a tick check after this birding session, and two days later, discovered three ticks around my waistline. Late May is also the peak season for ticks in Illinois, so be sure to do a thorough check after hitting the woods during this time of the year.
For more information on Ryerson Woods, click on their website for more.
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