Sunday, June 15, 2008

June at Emiquon and Henry Allen Gleason Preserves

Last week my friend and I drove down to Emiquon. Thompson Lake covers a huge expanse of the floodplain on the east side of IL 78. We did not find many waders or other waterfowl though. One egret flew over and later one heron flew over, but none were in the water as we had expected. A few coots and a couple of mallards were in one of the canals, and a few killdeer were around. The main attractions at the lake were the dragonflies. Many different dragonflies, Green Darner, Saddlebags, Blue Damselfly, among others. The flowers in the prairie that was burned earlier this spring are fantastic. Yellow Lance-leaf Tickweed mixed with the deep purple/blue of the Spiderwort interspersed among the bright green of the other plants were a delight to our senses. A gorgeous Indigo Bunting sang from a stalk not far from Prairie Road, giving me a chance to photograph him without leaving the car.

We stopped by Henry Allen Gleason Preserve on our way back. This sand prairie is beautiful. Spiderwort and Prickly Pear Cacti cover the sand dunes. We ran across a couple of Six-lined Racerunners and Big Sand Beetles. Indigo Buntings were singing along the edge where the Blackjack Oaks meet the sand prairie. We did not find any Regal Frittilary butterflies, but we did find a beautiful Black Swallowtail and some Bumble Bees busy pollinating the Prickly Pear blossoms. I would have stayed to search for birds, but the black flies were biting me on my face. Bug spray deterred them not one bit. I have a bite under my right eye that has given me a black eye. We came out with about 25 deer ticks too, some of which we did not find until we got home. Mosquitoes were there but not nearly as bothersome as the flies and the ticks.

On Saturday I went back (inspite of the bugs!) with my daughter, thinking that the majority of the Prickly Pears would be in bloom. That event is yet to come. Probably this week, but I, alas, am nursing my eye and won't be able to see them. Bugs once more chased us away before we had explored much. However, on our drive along the Manito blacktop heading towards the Gleason Preserve, Mary and I spotted a Northern Harrier flying low over one of the restored grassy areas. He was being chased doggedly by a Red-winged Blackbird.

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