Chicago Portage in the Snow

I fully intended to go out for a walk at the Chicago Portage Saturday morning before more snow was predicted to fall. I was completely dressed and ready to go out the door when I made the mistake of checking the weather app on my phone: it indicated snow was starting in fifteen minutes. Since the weather app on my phone has been somewhat inaccurate, I went to my laptop to double-check with the Weather Channel and even more snow was predicted, along with confirmation from the radar. I decided not to take the chance.

Then, almost two hours later, I noticed it was not snowing, so I decided to go for a walk at the Portage anyway, come what may. Upon arrival, I noticed the parking lot had several cars, and it wasn’t until I got out of mine that I was soon reminded of the reason why, it being the last Saturday of the month. The volunteers were at work.

Since it takes a while before I find any birds to photograph these days, the landscape takes precedence.

But then, to interrupt the stillness for a moment at least, a Red-tailed Hawk flew over.

After that I had some clear if distant views of a Red-bellied Woodpecker…

and a White-breasted Nuthatch.

From time to time I have heard of seen Black-capped Chickadees lately, and Saturday was no exception, even if this was my only opportunity to capture one.

The sun tried to emerge from the clouds for moment.

A different view but probably of the same nuthatch, who is also represented at the top of the post.

And I’m including this photo of the Red-bellied Woodpecker because even though most of his body is obscured it shows off his red belly.

A peek at the Des Plaines River, and another view of the Portage stream.

Claiming their own place in the snow on the trail, I noticed two burdock seed pods.

The American Tree Sparrows have been hanging out in the middle of the marshy area, a little bit more visible from the inside trail.

Below is a view of nothing but the typical landscape in the marshy area which I suspect hides more birds than I see on any visit.

Also off the inside trail, but on the other side of it, I managed to find an American Goldfinch, and…

a male House Finch. The lack of light didn’t help.

An added bonus lately has been seeing and hearing White-throated Sparrows. I heard one singing for a short spell on Saturday.

Well-hidden but not far from the trail was a young White-tailed Deer.

By the time I got back to my car, it was snowing in earnest, so I decided to take this snowy shot of the back of the statue.

Now that I can no longer use snow as an excuse for staying home, I decided I can’t use single-digit temperatures as an excuse either. I went out yesterday and this morning, and managed to wield the camera and the lens somehow with double-gloved hands.

The hardest thing is going to be acclimating myself to an earlier rise. I have been taking full advantage of winter weather by sleeping in, but as the days grow longer and eventually warmer, I will have to amend my sleepy ways. I have been waking up to some intricately interesting if stupid dreams, but none of them have proved to be memorable beyond the first minute or two.

I will likely be back with more snow, more clouds, more sun, more birds…and an eventual update on the home flocks inside and out.

8 thoughts on “Chicago Portage in the Snow

  1. Hi Lisa,
    We walk on the Old Plank Trail in Frankfort most days. We have seen most of the birds in your latest post as we amble along. The Thursday before Christmas we saw a pair of bluebirds. I don’t remember ever seeing them this late in the year. And yesterday, we saw a pileated woodpecker in Hunters Woods Long the trail. A real treat for us. I don’t have a camera other than my phone so you’ll have to take my word for the sightings. 😊

    • Hi Jim! Great to hear about the Bluebirds – I haven’t seen them yet but a guy who walks his dog that I run into regularly in Riverside said he saw the local pair, I believe, last week. And my Portage birding buddy Bob saw a Pileated last year there. I have yet to see a Pileated anywhere lately (as in the last 5-10 years). I believe you saw both, and you are lucky! All I can do is keep paying attention to whatever shows up. 🙂

      • We’ve had the pileated in Hunters Woods most of 2022. It’s hard to miss their call. Also have had two barred owls there.

    • More often than not I hear a nuthatch but do not see it. Usually when I do see one, it’s busy cavorting in the trees with a woodpecker or two. Most of the time it’s way too far up the tree, but I get lucky now and then.

  2. Oh, glad to hear there’s an indoor flock update on the way since it seems like it’s been a while.
    The snow has made things look a little more seasonal and I’m glad you were able to get out. We have your cold this morning but tomorrow the forecast says 51 so it’s weird watching the birds feeding in the below zero sunshine today.

    • We’ve started warming up already but the wind gusts were cutting through this morning. Yet the sun is warm so it’s nice to see (and feel) for a change. Cardinals have been singing.

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