Back from the Arctic Blast

After being stuck inside for days, I ventured out to the Chicago Portage on Tuesday. It hadn’t started warming up too much yet, but the sun was shining and I was dressed in enough layers for the weather. The first thing I noticed was the sky.

And then of course the snow-covered frozen water.

It was totally quiet, and I saw nothing until a Great Blue Heron sprung silently out of nowhere. I must have flushed it unknowingly. I tried to find it where it presumably landed, but it was impossibly camouflaged.

When I finally did see a few birds they were predictably Dark-eyed Juncos.

I exchanged a quiet moment with one White-tailed Deer.

And I managed to capture one or two American Tree Sparrows.

Leading up to the Portage visit were five challenging days in the backyard. Since it was too cold to go outside and photograph the birds I had to try taking pictures of a few of them through screened windows which didn’t work very well. I tried to get temperature ranges for the days past to accompany these short paragraphs, but apparently the temperatures were so extreme the weather services are still updating their data, so I am not able to include them. I do remember something at one point being like a 35 degree Fahrenheit wind chill. I was definitely not outside in that.

December 22. First day of the storm – snowing and blowing. In all, we didn’t get very much snow. Just enough to make a bit of a mess as it blew around.

December 23 was brighter, likely due to the snow reflecting light, but much colder.

December 24, Christmas Eve, a little sunshine, but terribly cold. I did manage to sing with the choir for the candlelight service.

December 25 was beautiful, but still too cold. The Mourning Doves like to sit on the heated birdbath and keep their feet warm. I barely could see a male House Finch and a male Northern Cardinal in the back.

And on December 26. I managed one photograph of one American Goldfinch – outside.

I visited Riverside yesterday morning and went to the Portage this morning. I actually saw a few birds for a change. I will try to be back with a report before the end of the year.

We have warmed up for a couple days, and temperatures are predicted to stay above freezing pretty much until later next week. Even though it’s cloudy and gloomy, I can already tell the days are getting ever-so-slightly longer.

Other than that, I am looking forward to filling in for the pianist/accompanist for the first service of the 2023 on Sunday. It should be fun. I will be playing the gathering music as people enter the sanctuary, the opening music for which I have chosen a Mozart Adagio, and accompanying two choir members as they lead the congregation in a couple hymns. Other musical portions of the service will be pre-recorded. My birds have approved my selections for the gathering and opening music, in case anyone wants to know.

6 thoughts on “Back from the Arctic Blast

  1. You are a tough and focused woman. I have still not adjusted to my Polar torpor. The idea of 30 mph winds and seeing a few more juncos were also determining factors. But, it is great to see some of the shots of the trails and birds in your photos. If I don’t see you before Sunday, Happy New Year and enjoy the Sunday performance. I am eager to get outside.

    • Even though I kept swimming, I missed the walks. The Portage was a bit slippery in the melting ice this morning but the warmer temperature was so welcome. Hard to believe only 2 days left in the year. I’ll swim tomorrow after Riverside and likely stomp around the Portage Saturday morning. If I don’t see you, Happy New Year!

  2. I’ve been wondering how you were doing in the frozen Midwest! It’s good to get a report with your bird photos and observations. It’s been very windy and rainy here☹️. Lots of roads flooded including our own. Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year, Ann! So good to hear from you. Sorry you got flooding – hope you are back to some semblance of normal soon. It was a terrible storm system nearly everywhere. We lucked out by not getting very much snow, I guess. But we keep missing out on predicted precipitation and I’m worried we’re headed for drought conditions again. On the other hand with climate change, I guess the most applicable maxim is “be careful what you wish for.”❤️

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