A Portage New Year’s Eve

My visit to the Chicago Portage this morning was full of Goldfinches and… volunteers. Normally the volunteers come on the last Saturday of every month but this time they came on the last day of the year!

I had been wanting to clarify the reason for the chopped up trees anyway so I asked one friendly gentleman volunteer as I met him on the path. He confirmed that the wind had toppled the trees and so they were cut up into pieces for safety reasons. He said one tree in particular was perfectly healthy but was taken down by the wind anyway, so strong were the gusts. But then he asked me if I had taken any pictures of the owls. What owls? He said one of the guys had mentioned seeing owls and a nest. I spent nearly the rest of my walk perusing all the likely trees for owls and finding nothing. How could I miss owls? Since he was not the one to have seen them I didn’t press him for details. I suspect it might have gained something in the retelling. But now I will be looking for owls more seriously every time I go!

While the volunteers were busy clearing and burning the remnants of invasive plants, the American Goldfinches were busy with what remains here and there of another invasive, burdock. So I have way too many photographs of Goldfinches but they were almost the only birds I saw this morning.

There were five American Robins talking about me in a tree, drawing my attention to them.

Also there were a number of Canada Geese and a few Mallards in the water which will soon be frozen again. I was surprised to notice that the duckweed is already growing back.

It was another cloudy day, and if predictions hold everything will turn white tomorrow.

Walking by the hole in the fence that opens to a trail leading to the Des Plaines River, I saw something very white in the water and a quick view of a female Common Goldeneye, so I walked quickly over to the railroad bridge to see if I could capture the pair of Goldeneyes. They had already made quite a bit of distance in the other direction. I have seen Goldeneye in the river here before, but have not seen diving ducks in Riverside so I wonder if the river is shallower upstream.

Common Goldeneye

Just as I turned to go back from the railroad bridge, this track maintenance vehicle was coming my way.

The trees in the flood plain by the river

The Portage got a lot of extra attention from my lens today as the birds were basically absent. I didn’t even see one cardinal.

While searching for an owl, I found a Gray Squirrel close to its nest.

I close with one more Goldfinch…

Happy New Year to all, and thanks for stopping by as I try to make sense out of my wanderings. I suspect we are all collectively undergoing some level of dislocation lately. It would be hard not to… So maybe it’s that much more important to do the things that make us feel grounded. For me, it will always be birds and music and being outside. I hope you have access to what makes you feel alive and there is always more to look forward to. Love and Peace for 2022.

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