Residents Move In

by Carl Strang

Yesterday I shared some of the migrant birds that have been stopping by Mayslake Forest Preserve. Others have been establishing their presence as they prepare to nest there.

Two pairs of eastern kingbirds have been active in different parts of the preserve.

Two pairs of eastern kingbirds have been active in different parts of the preserve.

Kingbirds like open areas including Mayslake’s prairies, with trees at the edge. Other species prefer the woodlands.

Great crested flycatchers have been noisy and conspicuous, but they will become less so as nesting progresses.

Great crested flycatchers have been noisy and conspicuous, but they will become less so as nesting progresses.

Finally, the airways above the mansion have been filled with the chittering calls of zooming chimney swifts.

There appear to be 3 pairs hanging around the Mayslake buildings.

There appear to be 3 pairs hanging around the Mayslake buildings.

All these birds have been a welcome antidote to the winter just past.

Advertisements

Some Mayslake Migrants

by Carl Strang

This has been a good spring for migrant birds at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Some are species that nest in DuPage County, but use Mayslake only for day stops.

The savanna sparrow is one of these, though as Mayslake’s prairies continue to expand, the day may come when one or more pairs nest on the preserve.

The savanna sparrow is one of these, though as Mayslake’s prairies continue to expand, the day may come when one or more pairs nest on the preserve.

Scarlet tanagers prefer forests to Mayslake’s more open woodlands.

Scarlet tanagers prefer forests to Mayslake’s more open woodlands.

One morning my walk across the mansion grounds was arrested by a distinctive, repeated “pick-a-tuck.”

Sure enough, a summer tanager, an immature male.

Sure enough, a summer tanager, an immature male.

Summer tanagers are among the southern birds that increasingly are appearing in the Chicago region. The point of all these birds stopping for the day is illustrated in the next photo.

A Philadelphia vireo refuels.

A Philadelphia vireo refuels.

Caterpillars and other herbivorous insects start early in the season so as to take advantage of the newly opened leaves’ relative lack of defensive chemicals. The caterpillars themselves have only camouflage for defense, and birds like the vireo have sharp eyes.

GHO Surprise

by Carl Strang

This year the snow was too deep in mid-February for me to cover Mayslake Forest Preserve thoroughly in a search for the great horned owl pair’s nest. As far as I could tell there was no nest on the preserve, at least in places where I could go with my skis.

Last Wednesday evening, as I left a photography class I am taking at Mayslake, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the distinctive, grating-yelping contact call of a fledgling great horned owl. I approached the sound, and eventually realized there were two youngsters.

The next day I searched the vicinity, and found one of them.

The young owl was perched in a weeping willow.

The young owl was perched in a weeping willow.

One of the adults snoozed in another willow nearby.

Note the white collar and developed feather tufts, in contrast to the immature owl’s.

Note the white collar and developed feather tufts, in contrast to the immature owl’s.

This is a portion of the preserve where my ability to move on the skis was limited by dense shrubbery. Next year I will begin the search in this area, hoping that the nest platform, whatever it was, will be good for another season.

First SFC’s

by Carl Strang

On Sunday afternoon, during a bike ride through Fermilab, I heard the first spring field crickets of the year. They had just begun, as there were only 3 of them. This is the third earliest date I have heard them in DuPage County, a little surprising given the late spring, though the deep snow that covered the ground most of the winter certainly provided the nymphs with protection. If a larger population survived, some statistical outliers could be starting up earlier than otherwise would be the case.

Cheating a little here: this is a fall field cricket female, but that species is physically identical to its spring sibling species.

Cheating a little here: this is a fall field cricket female, but that species is physically identical to its spring sibling species.

Apart from such uncommonly encountered critters as sulphur-winged grasshoppers and spring trigs, the next common singing insects to mature should be the predaceous katydids (Roesel’s katydid and the protean shieldback), and gladiator meadow katydids. By then I hope that the spring field crickets will have built numbers to the point where I can finish my county survey of their distribution.

Singing Insect Season Opens

by Carl Strang

The first displays by greenstriped grasshoppers always mark the start of our singing insect season, and this happened yesterday as I heard two displaying males in the prairie at Mayslake Forest Preserve. The rattling crepitations of the display flights at last ended the long winter’s drought. The May 12 date is relatively late, ranking 7th out of the 8 years in which I have kept records. The next anticipated singer is the spring field cricket, which I hope to start hearing in another 2 weeks or so.

The greenstriped grasshopper gets the jump on other singing species because it overwinters as a nymph rather than an egg.

The greenstriped grasshopper gets the jump on other singing species because it overwinters as a nymph rather than an egg.

Ted L. Strang, 1925-2014

by Carl Strang

We thought that Dad might hold on a while longer, but he simply could not live without Mom, and he passed away less than a month after she did. I wrote his obituary:

In his Navy uniform

In his Navy uniform

On his wedding day

On his wedding day

Ted L. Strang of Culver passed away on April 30 at the age of 88. Except for his U.S. Navy service in the South Pacific in World War II and immediately after, Ted was a lifelong Culver resident.  He was long known as one of the fishermen most knowledgeable of Lake Maxinkuckee. He was a pillar of Culver’s VFW Post  6919. At various times he was manager of the local A&P grocery store, a life insurance salesman, and a factory department foreman. Most of all, though, Ted Strang was a family man. As a teenager he met the love of his life, Charlene (“Chuckie”) Hausler, at nearby Bass Lake, where her Chicago family had a summer home. They married after his military service ended, and their marriage over the subsequent decades was a model of love and dedication. Chuckie passed away at the beginning of April, and it could be said that Ted died of a broken heart less than a month later.

With Gary, 1962

With Gary, 1962

He is survived by two sons (Carl of Warrenville, Illinois, and Gary with wife Lisa of Easton, Maryland), and by Gary and Lisa’s three sons: Greg Strang of Cambridge, Maryland; Captain Derek Strang (wife Christine), who is an Air Force pilot in Mountain Home, Idaho; and Lt. Brice Strang (wife Rachel), U.S. Army Reserve, of Easton, Maryland.

Hunting and fishing were family traditions. A good day’s results, 1949.

Hunting and fishing were family traditions. A good day’s results, 1949.

Fishing was Dad’s favorite activity. With walleyes, 1987.

Fishing was Dad’s favorite activity. With walleyes, 1987.

Ted’s Navy service was with a submarine rescue ship, and he was trained in rescue and salvage diving. He treasured his veteran’s status, and was a life member and past Commander of VFW Post 6919. He also volunteered for the American Red Cross in blood drives. On two occasions he shared honors as a co-Grand Marshall of Culver’s Lakefest Parade. His favorite personal pursuit was fishing, but he also hunted, gardened, carved and painted wooden duck decoys, and was a wonderful teacher as a father. His strong will was revealed when, after being a smoker for two decades, he went cold turkey one day and never smoked again.

With Mom and their grandsons, around 1990

With Mom and their grandsons, around 1990

%d bloggers like this: