Lake Michigan can be a violent body of water. Such was the case on January 11. An intense winter storm produced 20-30 m.p.h northeast winds that kicked up 15-foot waves, pounding the Chicago lakefront. I took this video near the base of the fishing pier and southeast corner of the Dunes at Montrose. Note the downed light pole and river of water flowing up the footpath. Not the best day to be on the fishing pier I’d say. Click the square in the lower right corner of the video to enlarge it to full-screen size.
Birding has been slow this winter at Montrose. My best days have maxed out at between 20 and 24 species. This is typical but in some years we at least have Snowy Owls to keep us entertained and to pass the time until spring and migration arrive. Not this year. Not one Snowy Owl has been reported at Montrose this winter.
Today, February 22, was no different; I tallied 24 species in 90 minutes of birding, but the ice formations on Lake Michigan made the long walk out onto the fishing pier worthwhile. I’m always impressed by the geometry of these formations. In this picture, one of the pieces in the foreground looks perfectly square, the piece above it looks perfectly rectangular, and the large piece to the left looks trapezoidal. Nature’s artwork. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
We’ve had some spectacular and dramatic sunrises in August and September. I snapped this one from Montrose Beach with my cell phone on the morning of September 1, 2016.
A nice, icy sunrise over Lake Michigan. The birding this winter has been unimpressive, but the sunrises haven’t.
I went over to Montrose this afternoon to see the wave action on Lake Michigan from the storm that went through. I’ve lived in Chicago all my life and I’ve seen some impressive weather but this storm has to rank near the top in terms of violence and intensity. A large part of the dunes at Montrose Beach was flooded. At times part of the fishing pier was under water. Waves were crashing 20-30 feet high against the fishing pier. Lake Michigan was roiling. I even saw a few birds, including a Northern Harrier flying south over the lake.
We’re three weeks into meteorological spring now and winter just won’t let go. I didn’t see anything of note, except that ice seems to be reforming on Lake Michigan! Yes, it’s been that cold. The harbor is still mostly frozen over and the beach is covered in ice. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new ice age?