Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild Water

Cooler temperatures, a little wind and a possible seiche created some wild water this weekend at Montrose Beach.

The waves created some interesting patterns in the shore.

Typically, we don't put the lifeguard stations and the trash cans in the water at the Chicago Beaches. But the water at Montrose Beach was up significantly on Sunday morning, creating the appearance of misplaced garbage cans. Another beachwalker said there was a seiche, which would have explained the dramatic rise.

And with all the wind and waves, how could the kiteboarders and sea-kayakers NOT take advantage of these conditions for a little lake surfing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feathered Friends: Serious and Goofy

The Eastern Kingbird usually strikes a very stately pose. But every so often, he can get a little goofy. More pictures of the Eastern Kingbird are at my birdwatching blog, right here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flight Patterns

Wandering around Grant Park on Monday (seeing if there was any bird migration activity and checking out the music at the Pritzker Pavilion), I saw waves of bird flocking and flying overhead. I think they are starlings; at least that's what I saw a LOT of in Grant Park. I took a few photos and found the mini patterns within the flocks interesting.

Here's a wide view of one of the waves going over.

Update: Back in July, I posted some pictures from the Outdoor Movies in Grant Park. During the Duck Soup movie showing, Chicago attempted to set the world record for most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses at the same time. Heard last night, at the LAST outdoor movie of the summer, that with 4,436 wearers Chicago does indeed now hold that record. We're so proud! ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two views of ... Ohio Street Beach

The Ohio Street Beach is nicknamed "The Playpen" and, on summer weekend afternoons, attracts a lot of boaters who anchor out and socialize. On a recent weekend there were way more than the usual number of boaters there and the boats were rafting up (tying themselves together) in long chains. Clearly, to draw that many boats (and it wasn't really one of the prime summer weather days) it was an organized event. Had to do a little internet searching to figure out what was going on. Turns out it was the 9th Annual "Boat Party" sponsored by Chicago Scene Magazine. It's quite the wild party, apparently, having been described by the New York Times (no less) as "a ticket to Girls Gone Wild come to life". The local newspaper described it, more sedately, as "a floating Mardi Gras". The Chicago Police Department and Coast Guard boats do patrol the area to make sure things don't get too wild.

But that's the weekend. During the week, it is a much more serene spot, well-suited for overnight anchoring by cruising boaters or even "staycationers".

Ohio Street Beach - Weekend Boat Party
Wide View

Ohio Street Beach - Quiet Weekday Morning

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Late Summer Sunrise

I don't need a calendar to tell me that summer has hit its peak and we're moving into meteorological Autumn. This sunrise looks very different than the peak summer sunrises we've had. Not sure why the prism showed up in the picture - help, anybody? - but left it in because I didn't want to crop out the Chicago Harbor Light and the gold tipped clouds

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feathered Friends: Open Wide and Say ...

... skee-dlees chis chis chis*

This is a Dickcissel. I think he's a classy looking bird. I think his coloring gives the impression that he's wearing an ascot and a snazzy yellow shirt with a grey vest. And he sings a lot. This one was at Northerly Island in downtown Chicago. More pictures of this little guy are at my bird watching blog which is here.

*Sibley's provides this as the phonetic spelling of this bird's song

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Roll out the Blue Carpet

Chicago got a new beach this season. It doesn't even have an official name yet. It's "the new beach around 39th Street". It's easily accessed from the Lakefront Bike Trail - but we didn't see any nearby parking.

I don't know the purpose of this mat that led down to the water. It looked, to me, like they had rolled out a blue carpet to welcome the beachgoers. (It's a beach - so it gets a blue carpet instead of a red carpet.) It was empty (especially for a nice Sunday morning) but probably will be a little more used as it gets discovered.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is the Fish Hotel?

The Fish Hotel is a project by Friends of the Chicago River to replace fish habitats along the Chicago River. It is a floating island that acts as a getaway place when the daily stresses of dodging boat traffic and bigger fish become too much for a little fish to bear. The hotel features native plants, growing in the coconut fiber mesh, that attract bugs for the fish guest's dining pleasure. They're planning to add a fish spa in 2010 (but no saunas or hot tubs).

Two Guests of the Fish Hotel

The Fish Hotel Buffet

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Views of ... Smurfit-Stone Building

Today's Two Views is of the Smurfit-Stone Building (previously known as the Stone Container Building, but also referred to as "that diamond shaped building"). It's a very recognizable building in the Chicago skyline and is also known for a co-starring role in the movie "Adventures in Baby-Sitting".

Smurfit-Stone reflection in Cloudgate

The Smurfit-Stone Building at night

Monday, August 17, 2009


The jets are always one of the highlights of the Chicago Air and Water Show. This year we had the Air Force Thunderbirds. Here, they are flying over Lake Michigan during Friday's rehearsal. When will those silly power boaters learn that they can't race an F-16 and expect to win ;)

Here they are (on Sunday) in the Delta formation flying over the John Hancock Building. The show ended just before those dark clouds got darker and it started to rain.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lights in the Windows

A few downtown buildings are honoring the Chicago Fire Department this week through a lighted window display of the letters CFD. This is the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Building's display on Randolph (with the arches from the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in the foreground).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Heritage Flight

The 51st Chicago Air and Water Show is this weekend but we get previews all week as the performers do practice runs.

This is the Air Force Heritage Flight Team, which presents planes from various eras of the Air Force. The planes in this photo are a P-51 Mustang (with the propeller), an F-16 Fighting Falcon, an A-10 Thunderbolt II, and an F-15 Eagle ... all being chased by a sailboat. ;)

Friday, August 14, 2009

No Room for Error

My favorite Chicago Air & Water Show performers are the Lima Lima Flight Team. Yes, there's a little favoritism going on there because they are from the Chicago area. But their bright yellow T34 Mentors are just great to see against a bright blue summer sky.

The 51st Chicago Air & Water Show is this weekend. That means that all this week the downtown area has been treated to mini previews and teasers as the show performers do practice runs.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


The Harold Washington Public Library in downtown Chicago is currently displaying various posters designed by local artists to promote the library's website.

Clockwise from top right:
Next Stop by Alexus Viscius by Eric Sheer
One Stop by Liz Razionale

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What's Blooming?

Wildflowers! It's rather lovely over on Northerly Island. Here is a sampling of some of the flowers decorating the area.

(Click to enlarge the photo)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dedicated to the Thirsty

This is a Viennese Drinking Fountain near the Water Tower. It was designed by Hans Muhr and, as the plaque near it states, it is "Dedicated to The Thirsty". It was presented to Chicago in 1998 by the City of Vienna as part of the Sister Cities program. I had walked around to the back side of the fountain, when I happened to notice that I could frame one of the double-decked tour buses through the fountain. I liked how the water spurt, coincidentally, mirrored the M in the Michigan Tourism sign on the bus. It reminded me to look at things from all the photographic angles.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Lollapalooza - a huge music event - is this weekend in Chicago. Yesterday they were working on constructing one of the stages. I'd better mention that the people in the picture were in Grant Park for the outdoor movie last night (Born Yesterday). I wouldn't want people to think they were already staking out their spots for the concerts ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two Views of ... The Crown Fountain

Today's "Two Views" is of the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. The two views are in Summer (August, top photo) and Spring (April, bottom photo). What a difference four months makes.

In April, people enjoy the fountains and watching the faces that spit (OK - actually spray) water. But from the edge. In August, people get in there and enjoy the fountains from "inside" of the fountain. People, mainly kids, line up to have the water spray on them. They actually count down to the time that the fountain will spray again (but it isn't an exact science - sometimes they have to count once or twice).



Monday, August 3, 2009

You Want Me to Do What?

I'm not sure who this event was more traumatic for: the ducklings who had to take the plunge or the people who were watching.

Happened to be coming back from a bike ride just in time to see a mother duck lead her ducklings (and a parade of about 8 people) to the edge of the lake. Apparently it was time for these ducklings to start swimming and nothing - not even the 7 foot drop from the walkway to the water - was stopping that duck from getting the kids in the water.

It was rather amusing. The mother duck flew in the water and four ducklings - apparently the trusting ones - just jumped in after her. The next seven, basically, got pushed into the water by their "dear" brothers and sisters who were all jostling each other about as they peeped "Mom, you want me to do what? Jump seven feet into water? I don't think so." Each jump (or push) was followed by a collective gasp from the onlookers.

The last two did not want to go. One of the people watching helped reunite the last two with their family by nudging them further to the edge with a paper bag.

The last one looks like he's doing a reverse open pike.

Just because those show-off brothers and sisters jumped
off this ledge
doesn't mean I'm going to do that.
Dry land suits me fine.

Together again. All survived the first swimming lesson.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunrise #9

After night comes day. Sunrise #9 is from Friday, July 31. But, I didn't really have to tell you that - this sunrise is clearly from the summer: yellow, amber, gold, orange.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Theme Day: Night

Today is Theme Day on City Daily Photo. The theme, chosen by vote of the CDP participants is "Night".

This theme day has been a bit of a NIGHTmare.

It's not like I didn't have any night pictures.
  • That one of the moon over the sailboats would have been good ... if I hadn't posted it back in the beginning of July.
  • Any of the ones from the movies in the park (Sunset Blvd. and Duck Soup) would have worked quite well ... if I hadn't posted them in the last two weeks.
  • The Bug Zapper one was at night and would have fit the theme ... if I hadn't posted it earlier this week.
Like this black-crowned NIGHT heron, I'm scratching my head and wondering what I was thinking posting those night scenes already. It's not like I haven't known the theme was Night since July 2. Duh!

So here is my Night photo.
That's not an anchor light on the top of the sail boat mast, it's the moon.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants - all of whom saved their good Night Shots for the Theme Day!