Weavers or Winter…

Speke's Weaver

Speke’s Weaver

Winter weather is winning. On the way in to work this morning, a bank sign read 7 degrees Fahrenheit or -14 Centigrade, whichever one sounds colder, and on the news they were saying it felt like 6 degrees below zero.

I was going swimming tonight but it just started to snow, the roads are slick and I don’t want to risk it. So I bought gas, dropped a late gift off at a friend’s doorstep and came back home. I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow to an accumulation of snow that will need my attention. As much as I love processing my pictures from East Africa, the present reality seems to be demanding attention.

Lake Michigan, 31st Street Beach rocks

Lake Michigan, 31st Street Beach rocks

Below are some formidable icicles from the lakefront, where I traveled to on Christmas Day to see if I could find one of the Snowy Owls that have been reported. I made the same pilgrimage two years ago for the last Snowy Owl irruption and was more successful. I think  saw a Snowy fly by shortly after I reached 31st Street Beach, but the camera wouldn’t cooperate in time, so I have no proof.

Ice formations at 31st Street Beach on Christmas Day

Ice formations at 31st Street Beach on Christmas Day

At Montrose Harbor there were only a few birds, like year-round Black-Capped Chickadees.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

Someone had hung a pine cone from a branch and the Chickadee was attracted to it.

Black-Capped Chickadee 12-25-13-0935

Common Mergansers took advantage of what little open water existed. The fishing must still be good.

Female Common Mergansers

Female Common Mergansers

Female Common Mergansers 12-25-13-0915

At Northerly Island, I have always seen a few Canada Geese fly by.

Canada Geese against the Chicago Skyline

Canada Geese against the Chicago Skyline

But now, while the weather continues outside, I’m going back to the Weavers.

Speke's Weaver at nest

Speke’s Weaver at nest

Music isn’t just for the birds

The first day of the Memorial Day weekend was so temperate, I was able to open all the windows. So when the birds and I got around to practicing the prelude to the G Minor English Suite by J.S. Bach, apparently we were audible to creatures with good ears. A dog joined in from across the street, and it was in key with the music. You can hear a little sample right here. The birds had plenty of input too.

Acadian Flycatcher

Defiant in face of the horrible heat of the next two days, I got up early to go birding. On Memorial Day, I went to Montrose Harbor, finally giving in to a birding hot spot on the (sorry) hottest day of the year. It was quite windy as well. While I did not see too many birds. I got a few nice pictures. There were a lot of flycatchers, and the one above turned out to be an Acadian.

Baltimore Oriole

This was the best I could get of a Baltimore Oriole with all the leaf cover.

Cedar Waxwing

Well-shaded, birds sought refuge from the heat in the “Magic Hedge.”

While on the beach, I caught a Northern Rough-Winged Swallow taking a preening break.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

And although Montrose Beach often has more exotic shorebird species, Memorial Day brought me only good looks at one Kildeer.

Killdeer

He’s still a pretty bird.

Killdeer

I’ll be back sometime next week, hopefully with more pictures from somewhere I’ve never been (don’t you love the mystery?). And yes, the AP now approves this usage of the word “hopefully.” While I have always inwardly cringed, I like to reassure myself with the knowledge that hardly any of the words still used after 300 years have the same meanings today, and I am just as guilty as anyone of going with the flow…