February 2, 2020, or 02022020
Groundhog Day. Super Bowl Sunday. (How far into winter can the Super Bowl go? At this rate, it will conflict with spring training.) This seemed like a good day to practice wielding a 150–600 mm lens in high wind conditions at Wolf Lake, which spans the Illinois/Indiana border. On the way, it was amusing to hear the Google Maps voice say, “Welcome to Illinois,” although she forgot to welcome us to Indiana or back to Illinois in the zigzagging we must have done.
Part of the heavily industrialized Calumet region, Wolf Lake seems to be a hunting and fishing paradise, although with the heavy industry around it, I’m not sure I’d want to eat anything that swam in or floated on its waters or walked the surrounding land, some of which is on a slag foundation.
On this day, as on others, Wolf Lake could have been Swan Lake. Our first sight from the road that serves as part of the state line was of five non-native mute swans. I can’t be certain, but I suspect they’re the pair with three cygnets I’d seen several times while passing Wolf Lake on the way to Indiana Dunes National Park. (Not only is Wolf Lake sandwiched between heavy industries, but it’s passed over by I-90, aka the Indiana Toll Road, the primary connection between Chicago and northwest Indiana. There’s nothing like slag heaps, noise pollution, and car fumes from a busy interstate near what was once pristine wetlands.)
While mute swans are beautiful, I don’t care for them as a non-native species. We saw at least 12 on the west side of the lake, which seems to be their preferred habitat — perhaps due to the several dikes that divide the lake. That’s a lot of swans with a lot of forage needs for a small lake. I’m told, however, that a few days later someone spotted endangered trumpeter swans as well as mutes.
I’d stupidly forgotten the camera card, which made lugging the long lens along pointless. J graciously lent me his for some shots. Even as the whipping wind blurred most of my photos (helped by a shaky, cold hand), it ruffled the swans’ feathers. The seemed inclined to hang out in their area. Maybe they were avoiding the swans by the other dikes.
And that’s how I happily avoided Super Bowl Sunday. This year.