The Chicago Portage – Mystery Loves Company

Chicago Portage

The Chicago Portage has so much history it’s almost too much to think about. And yet if it wasn’t a historical landmark it probably would have been developed over by now. It’s adjacent to train tracks, the Chicago Metropolitan Water District, and Interstate 55, not to mention Harlem Avenue also known as good old Illinois Route 43. Instead of counting birds lately I find I’ve been keeping track of how many planes fly over while I’m wandering through; the Portage is also right in the flight path of Midway Airport.

But the planes roar overhead and when they’re gone, the remaining traffic noise seems almost benign by comparison. Whatever the ambience, there is still wildlife. I never thought of the duckweed as attractive, but this Canada Goose seems to be wallowing in it.

The pervasive scum lends a pointillist feel to the image of these Mallards below.

While I’m dabbling in impressionism, what about this Red-Breasted Nuthatch searching for hidden treasure in the dead leaves…?

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

A Red-Eyed Vireo came out for the sunlight that traded off with the cloud cover all morning.

Red-Eyed Vireo

There are little story boards displayed in a few places along the trail at the Portage, and I think one of them has a caption, “if these trees could talk.” Sometimes the trees do talk – they creak, sway and moan. What’s left of this tree has an enormous web attached to it, catching debris.

Finally, this Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker might be my favorite “painting” photograph, for the light on the bark and his back.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Perhaps the attraction I have to the Portage lies in the stark contrast between its cluttered wildness and the manmade mess that surrounds it.

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