Anyone who’s walked near wetlands or water during red-winged blackbird nesting season understands this sign — “Beware of red-wing [sic] blackbirds. Birds may exhibit aggressive behavior.” They left me alone.
Tag Archives: nature
Hungry squirrel and red-tailed hawk
Squirrel wasn’t going to let the red-tailed hawk perched on the stump keep it from a snack.
Eternal flame waterfall at Chestnut Ridge
This is at Chestnut Ridge, a county park near where I grew up in western New York. I didn’t know about it until a few years ago. Sadly, the one time I was back there in 2015, my energy drained on the trail before I could get to the waterfall, so I’ve never seen it. I’m not sure my dad knew about it. He would have loved it, I think. Video is by John Kucko, who specializes in WNY/Finger Lakes photography and video.
Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Nature Preserve, Calumet Fisheries, train, and Chicago Skyway
July 3, 2022
Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Nature Preserve
Sunday I had the brilliant idea of going to Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Nature Preserve. This is the only place in the city of Chicago with remnant prickly pear cactus. I wouldn’t disturb it; I just wanted to see the flower if possible.
Later, the idea didn’t seem so brilliant when I realized I couldn’t find a trail. Some nature preserves don’t have trails (the better to preserve), but people had mentioned walking around. They must be better spotters than I. At least we saw a great egret across Powderhorn Lake. And an amazing amount of trash around it (egret and trash not pictured).
Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve
There was no Plan B but we stopped at the Beaubien Woods boat launch. At some points you could feel like you’re in the country near a hill, but you’re in a former industrial area adjacent to I-94 and a large landfill. Allow me the solace of my imagination.
Calumet Fisheries, Chicago Skyway, train, and boats
Since we were in the area, I suggested J visit Calumet Fisheries, a Chicago institution he’d never been to. I can’t eat fish, but he likes it. He was excited to see smelt on the side of the building. He got some. Meanwhile, I took photos and videos from the same bridge that Jake and Elwood jumped in The Blues Brothers (which I don’t remember that well anymore). The Chicago Skyway is in the background, and the closer bridge is the one my Amtrak trains use. It was great to see the bridges from this angle, and even better when a freight train came along. A pair of boats on the Calumet River completed the picture.
Finally, we picked up sandwiches at Potbelly’s and dined at the University of Chicago campus, which was aglow in the setting sun.
Parker Mill County Park
June 27, 2022
Nearly five minutes of tranquility (with traffic) along Fleming Creek in Parker Mill County Park, with guest appearances by an eastern comma and some barely discernible ebony jewelwings.
Ridge and swale topography at Miller Woods, Indiana Dunes National Park
Miller Woods is part of Indiana Dunes National Park. The Wolverine, Amtrak’s train from Chicago to Pontiac (and back), passes it and offers an opportunity to see ridge and swale topography.
Tadpoles at Fullersburg Woods
I wanted to repeat an experience of hearing and seeing frogs at Fullersburg Woods from a few years ago, but instead I saw tadpoles — many tadpoles.
Morton Arboretum, take 1 and take 2
May 2, 2021
I talked J into going to Morton Arboretum to check out the spring ephemerals. On I55, he mentioned he’d sent me a text message mentioning his car’s battery light had come on. The internet in my hand suggested this could be a sign of a bigger alternator problem, and sure enough many other lights had joined the battery indicator. Time to turn around.
On the return, the gas gauge showed nearly empty. He’d recently gotten gas, and we suspected this was also related to the failing alternator, but he stopped for gas at BP on 51st just in case. The quick topping off proved the theory. Of course, now the car wouldn’t start.
Short (!) version: Triple A tried a jump start, then called for a tow. Meanwhile the gas station attendant and then the manager (owner?) were unhappy over and over again that a pump was being blocked. They allowed me to appease them briefly several times by reminding them you can’t move a car that won’t start.
With the tow on the way, I went to catch a bus, but ended up summoning a Lyft car. J’s total time at the gas station — two to three hours. Happy weekend!
May 9, 2021
The next weekend we did make it to Morton Arboretum, where flowers still bloomed. I even found a Jack-in-the-pulpit on the way back to the Big Rock parking lot. They’re not easy to spot in all the green.
On the west side, we came upon Heartwood, part of the Human+Nature exhibition by artist Daniel Popper, which hadn’t opened officially. Heartwood requires you to be photographed between its halves, doesn’t it? The rest looks like it is fabulous, but I’m going to miss the trolls.
Lake Marmo (or Marmite, as I have to call it) glowed spectacularly purple from the top of the rise approaching it. People stopped to take photos, but I couldn’t capture it.
We sat on a lakeshore bench snacking on a charcuterie box from Redbird Cafe in Homewood (I think). As we watched, a great blue heron flew by a time or two, moving from the opposite shore to down shore not far from the bench. Finally, it took off and flapped by to my left, almost close enough for me to feel the air from its slow wingbeats.
I also spotted what could have been taken for a headless duck, but was of course a muskrat. It swam from the island toward us, disappeared under the bank on my left, and reappeared with a mouthful of grass clippings. He was as busy as a . . . beaver?
In my younger days (1980s through 1990s, which, sadly, don’t seem that long ago), I’d collect certain things, like Renaissance music CDs and bookmarks. I also collected postcard books from 57th Street Books and other bookstores. After all these years, I’m finally returning to sending postcards, some yellowing, to friends and family.
The Sierra Club books were among the first I bought. Just looking at them reminds me how the photos took me away from what was then a tedious life. Sadly, I don’t see postcard books on the Sierra Club’s website, and now that I think about it I’m not sure when I last saw a postcard book in a store. I suppose I’m one of the few left who sends postcards.