Prelude to the Deep Freeze

It’s snowing this evening, as I write this. I stepped outside to bring in bird feeders from the backyard earlier, and the humidity made it feel pleasantly warm. But we are plunging into cold tomorrow (the high will be 30 degrees Fahrenheit) and will continue to plummet to single digits by next Friday if the forecast is credible.

I was working on a lovely, bright, colorful post of a lot of birds seen on September 1 that I never got around to sharing, but decided to postpone that just a little longer because this morning, after disappointing outings all week, I went to the Chicago Portage, expecting to see nothing but up for the walk before my scheduled grocery run, and I was pleasantly surprised by a few birds beyond any expectations.

The first surprise: I heard, and then saw, a male Belted Kingfisher over the water. I can’t remember the last time I saw this bird here. More usually I see Kingfishers over by the Des Plaines River.

Things were looking a lot like this, at best, when I finally found most of the passerine flock just beyond the hill and the opening in the fence. The birds were pretty far away and it was hard to find them, let alone focus, in such poor light.

American Goldfinch

But then another surprise was seeing this Ruby-crowned Kinglet foraging on the ground to the left of the trail. I apologize for the lack of clarity in some of the photos, but the best ones I got were when the bird had its back to me. Of course.

Dark-eyed Juncos outnumbered every other species, but were hard to capture. I might have gotten some more photos except for a man walking through with his dog. Predictably the flock scattered to some unknown location and I never saw it again.

Enjoying the open water after yesterday’s rain were several Mallards.

And there were Canada Geese as well. No surprise there.

I was heading back out of the inside trail in my usual fashion, not expecting to see anything, and paused to look over the water. That was when I saw a distant Great Blue Heron. Surprise number 3! It won’t take long for the water to freeze the next day or two, so I don’t expect to see another one of these birds for quite a while.

I won’t know until tomorrow morning whether I want to walk in Riverside before I go swimming. But I am getting mentally ready for a long, cold but convivial Christmas Bird Count on Saturday by the Fox River. Sunday will be even colder, but the sun will be shining. I will be indoors singing in the choir. There are more sunny days in the forecast – but even colder. Glad I still have some earlier, warmer-looking photos to revive.

6 thoughts on “Prelude to the Deep Freeze

  1. Fortune rewarded your persistence! Those birds were your gifts on that gloomy day. Good spot on that GBH- I would probably have missed it.

    I’m sitting here in my living room watching it snow-rain as the nor-Easter moves in. Our CBC got moved to Sunday, thank goodness! Good luck on yours, and stay warm!

    • Thanks for your comment. I often have to remind myself that birds move and therefore can show up anywhere.
      Feel free to identify yourself… or remain Anonymous. 🙂 Good luck on your CBC Sunday. Definitely time to make use of all that winter gear!

  2. I enjoyed seeing the shots of the kingfisher and the great blue heron. Alas, all those recent overcast days and the on-coming weather pattern can further dim ones chance to see some interesting birds. Hope Wednesday’s solo was a great success. Find some great birds on Saturday. See you soon on the trail.

    • Thanks, Bob. It’s snowing this morning, so I am not going for a walk this morning. When I went out to the yard to fill the feeders there was a Cooper’s Hawk waiting. I resorted to scattering sand on my walks and steps. I can still go swimming.
      No solo but I’m relieved, as there is more than enough to keep me busy. Tomorrow will be a challenge weatherwise, to be sure.
      See you soon.

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