Down by the River

Herring Gull, Chicago River

Herring Gull, Chicago River

Birds in what’s left of the Loop parks have all but vanished, the lake is still frozen, and so I have been walking along the Chicago River lately for my afternoon break.

Red-Breasted Merganser

Red-Breasted Merganser

Although there’s nothing really new going on, it’s still amazing to see so many Red-Breasted Mergansers and White-Winged Scoters in the river.

Female White-Winged Scoter

Female White-Winged Scoter

This scoter swam below me for a while and then she dove for something.

Diving Fem WW Scoter 2-25-14 5877.jpg-5877

Male White-Winged Scoter

Male White-Winged Scoter

It’s fairly easy to get to the junction where the branches of the river meet. On my last visit there were more Herring Gulls than the usually ubiquitous Ring-Billed.

Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-Billed Gull

At one point two Herring Gulls got into a match over a fish. If nothing else this proves there is something to eat even in the Chicago River (and it’s not from the fancy restaurants alongside it). I have seen huge carp, perhaps the invasive Asian species, sometimes surface in the spring, but nothing that spectacular lately. However if you click on the images below you can almost see what the gull on the left has in his beak.

Herring Gulls Battling Over Fish 2-25-14 5929.jpg-5929Herring Gulls Battling Over Fish 2-25-14 5930.jpg-5930Herring Gulls Battling Over Fish 2-25-14 5931.jpg-5931Herring Gulls Battling Over Fish 2-25-14 5932.jpg-5932

The Riverwalk below street level doesn’t extend along one entire side yet, but there is a sign that looks promising. The stairs leading down to it are blocked off anyway during the inclement weather.

River Walk Sign 2-25-14 5878.jpg-5878

Braving the wind, ice on the bridges.

Dirty Snow on the Sidewalk

Dirty Snow on the Sidewalk

Turning back toward the office, the elevated train “loops” around the city core, giving it its nickname.

The El 2-25-14 6009.jpg-6009

The El forming the Chicago Loop

Beyond the Weather, I think I will remember this winter as the one of White-Winged Scoters and Snowy Owls, from seen very well to barely seen at all.

Female White-Winged Scoter

Female White-Winged Scoter

Meanwhile, Back at the Mac

Grey-Crowned Cranes

Grey Crowned Cranes

I’ve been struggling to fit in a blog post based on the current weather situation, but it’s the weather that prevents me from doing so, whether it’s train delays or just plain exhaustion from having to deal with it…

At the same time, my heart goes out to those on the other side of the planet who are dealing with the exact opposite – terrifyingly too hot, too dry.

Gray-Crowned Crane 11-21-13 5682.jpg-2

For a moment, I’ve decided to look forward again by looking back at some more photos from the East Africa trip.

Gray-Crowned Crane 11-21-13 5675.jpg-2

I came across a day in the Serengeti when we must have seen many Grey Crowned Cranes, and they are a delightful sight. There’s so much more going on with this bird than grey!

Grey-Crowned Cranes 11-22-13 6338.jpg-2

Maybe they do start to blend in a bit when the landscape is grey. But their crowns definitely contribute to their regal appearance.