One result of the cold snap – frozen water – resulted in diving ducks looking for open water deep enough to, well, dive in. Although much of the Des Plaines River remains frozen around Riverside, there is open water closer to the Joliet Avenue bridge on either side. On Wednesday morning, I saw some Common Goldeneye, and yesterday morning there were several Common Mergansers. To be expected, there are a lot of Mallards up and down the river, and I saw a few of them diving too, although they don’t stay submerged very long.
Below are some groups of Mallards on the ice.
It looks like there were Canada Geese here before the Mallards.
As I started to walk along the paved trail, I saw these two male Common Goldeneyes.
And then a female.
And below is a first-year male Common Goldeneye.
The rest of the river from any close vantage point was still pretty much covered in ice and snow.
The snow on the fallen logs across the worn foot-trail in Riverside Lawn adds a layer of interest.
But I really didn’t see any passerines until I got back to where my car was parked in Lyons by the Hofmann Tower.
Close to the wrought-iron fence by the Hofmann Tower, where the landscape descends toward the river, I spotted a Song Sparrow. And then under the feeders, another Song Sparrow and a Junco, and then an American Tree Sparrow and the Song Sparrow.
Yesterday, the view looking west from the Hofmann Tower was a bit gloomier.
There was more open water, but much of the river is still ice.
This time close to the Joliet Avenue bridge were some Common Mergansers. Below is a first-year male.
Look closely inside this bird’s open mouth and you will see a fish it has caught.
Below is an adult male Common Merganser.
The next surprise was a first-year male Hooded Merganser – farther away, and determined not to be photographed, but I kept trying in between dives and managed the images below.
I don’t know when, if ever, I have noticed first-year male ducks, so this was an educational extra benefit from winter birding. You may see fewer birds, but notice them more.
Sometimes I just have to settle for the beauty of a big, slow-moving Canada Goose.
I noticed a Mallard hen trying to eat something that seemed to keep sliding onto the ice, but I had no idea what it was until I developed the pictures. It looks like a small crayfish or maybe a piece of one.
More pictures of yesterday’s ice.
The sun keeps trying to emerge from behind what seems like eternal cloud cover.
Land birds again, few and far between. There was a Hairy Woodpecker not far from the foot bridge.
And upon returning to where my car was parked in Lyons, there were a few cold-looking American Goldfinches.
One more of the four Common Goldeneye from Wednesday.
I will be back next year (!) with more winter birding and likely even more from before. It’s hard to get my head around the fact that this is the last day of 2022, but it is, so Happy New Year to all, thanks so much for checking in, and let’s all take a deep breath for the New Year.