First January Thaw

Lake Michigan Lighthouse IMG_9497_1

Gulls on the ice by the lighthouse, Monroe Harbor

It almost seems impossible that we went from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to freezing and back out again last week. Especially as I sit inside today avoiding a wind-chill of 7 degrees F. below zero. I visited the lakefront almost every workday this past week, monitoring the thaw. Although the weather in Chicago is still a primary topic of conversation, it is clouded by the perception that with climate change, anything could happen and whatever it is, it will most likely be weird.

Here is a Ring-Billed Gull testing the ice closer to the shoreline.

Ring-Billed Gull IMG_9517_1

A little piece of ice made for two Canada Geese.

Standing on Ice IMG_9601_1

And here’s the same Ring-Billed Gull joined by a Herring Gull (yawning in this picture), who was kind enough to stand close enough to offer a credible size comparison.

Herring & Ring Billed Gulls IMG_9532_1

A couple days later, the ice had melted enough to accommodate Red-Breasted Mergansers closer in.

Red-Breasted Mergansers IMG_8939_1

Male Red-Breasted Mergansers

Friday morning I went down early before work, and I always see the sun just starting to come up over the lake before I get to it. For the heck of it I stopped in the breaking dawn to see if I could get a picture of the sun coming up through the trees. Without a tripod this shot was never meant to happen, but I kind of like the surreal effect anyway.

Sunrise IMG_8845_1

A Common Goldeneye male…

Common Goldeneye IMG_8874_1

The picture I did finally get of the sunrise…

Sunrise IMG_8862_1

A crow over the water…

Crow on the Water IMG_8917_1

and several Common and Red-Breasted Mergansers in flight.

Mergs in Flight IMG_8966_1

These three Herring Gulls in various stages of plumage complement the ice in various stages of thaw. That’s a female Red-Breasted Merganser in the background.

Herring Gulls on the Ice IMG_8976_1

And here’s the White-Throated Sparrow who hangs out in the hedges by the yacht club.

WT Sparrow IMG_9458_1

6 thoughts on “First January Thaw

    • Thanks for your comment! Lucky you to have a whole group of White-Throated Sparrows where you live. They’re among my favorite birds…the first ones I noticed hanging out with House Sparrows years ago when I first got into birds and realized these had “racing stripes” on their heads.

    • Hey Bob, thanks! Yeah, I guess it’s always worth trying the impossible just to see what happens. Especially when there isn’t much else going on in my neck of the woods this time of year.

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