Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Bay Fen

Spring Bay Fen is the only remaining example of an Illinois River cold water tall shrub fen in the state. The fen is a "bog-like" community dominated by several shrub species: red-osier dogwood, nannyberry, poison sumac and pussy willow. This community is similar to a bog in the structure of the peaty soil and springs, however, the pH of the spring water is different. The calcareous water flowing through the soil creates an alkaline pH to the soil-water, resulting in a fen community rather than an acidic bog. The plant communities have rare plants such as black ash, spotted phlox and highbush cranberry. More typical plants include skunk cabbage, blue iris, spreading goldenrod and spotted touch-me-not. Wood duck, heron, egret, bullfrog, garter snake and beaver are just a few common animal inhabitants. Record floods occurring in both 1983 and 1984 seemed to have had little adverse impact on the significant features.

A stream runs through the fen, so clear you can see to the bottom.

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Eaglets in the Nest

Dad stood guard in a nearby tree while Mom fed the eaglets. I could see at least two eaglet heads, little sock puppets.



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Blood Root was in bloom along the trail to the eagle nest.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We have gone too far . . .

From Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, pg. 427

We have gone too far; we do not know how to stop; impetus
Is all we have. And we share it with the pushed Inert.

We are clever, -- we are as clever as monkeys; and some of us
Have intellect, which is our danger, for we lack intelligence
And have forgotten instinct.

Progress -- progress is the dirtiest word in the language--who ever told us --
And made us believe it - - that to take a step forward was necessarily, was always
A good idea? In this unlighted cave, one step forward
That step can be the down-step into the Abyss.
But we, we have no sense of direction; impetus
Is all we have; we do not proceed, we only
Roll down the mountain,
Like disbalanced boulders, crushing before us many
Delicate springing things, whose plan it was to grow.

Clever, we are, and inventive, -- but not creative;
For, to create, one must decide -- the cells must decide -- what form,
What colour, what sex, how many petals, five, or more than five,
Or less than five.

But we, we decide nothing: the bland Opportunity
Presents itself, and we embrace it, -- we are so grateful
When something happens which is not directly War;
For we think -- although of course, now we very seldom
Clearly think--
That the other side of War is Peace.

We have no sense; we only roll downhill. Peace
Is the temporary beautiful ignorance that War
Somewhere progresses.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I wanted to put the whole poem out there for context, but the lines I wish I'd written are:

". . . we only
Roll down the mountain,
Like disbalanced boulders, crushing before us many
Delicate springing things, whose plan it was to grow."

I especially like the phrase: "Delicate springing thing things, whose plan it was to grow." I think of that phrase each spring as I walk through the woods looking for mushrooms, wildflowers, and warblers.

And of course, with the war raging on and on in Iraq, I often think of her last line:

". . . . Peace
Is the temporary beautiful ignorance that war
Somewhere progresses."

When I am out in the woods at Forest Park watching warblers flitting from tree to tree, or when I am looking out from the levee at Banner Marsh at hundreds of Pelicans soaring in and out of the marsh, I can almost forget about the atrocities going on throughout the world, both to people and to the animals trying to live in their turbulent and changing habitats.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jubilee College State Park

Looking for mushrooms, but none to be found. Not even the Maidenhair Ferns were to be found. I guess this is a late spring!

White-throated Sparrow hiding in the brush.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in the tree tops.

Woodpecker holes everywhere I look.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Pelicans at Bell's Landing

Hundreds of Pelicans congregated in one of the ponds by the levee that separates Banner Marsh from Copperas Creek. They were circling above, flying in and out. Then they all rose in the air, one by one, and flew off. We found them again north of Bartonville feeding in one of the ponds that had recently been flooded.



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Banded Mute Swan

One of the Mute Swans at Banner Marsh has a band around his neck.



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Northern Shovelers at Bell's Landing

A pair of shovelers were feeding near the edge of one of the ponds at Bell's Landing.


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Pelicans at Bartonville

The pond south of Bartonville must be full of fish after the flood waters receded because it was full of Pelicans, Egrets, Herons, Cormorants and Geese. All seemed to be actively feeding.



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Stacked Clouds over Bartonville.
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Emiquon in April

Before the Emiquon Corp of Discovery meeting I took a walk along the ridge. I walked down a tractor path leading to the prairie below. On my last visit a couple of weeks ago this prairie and the ridge had been burned by The Nature Conservancy; it is already turning green again. Field Sparrows singing all over the place, each declaring his territory. Tufted Titmice, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers are just the birds I could identify in the poor light. The view of Thompson Lake from the ridge is expansive; Emiquon lies spread out before you, as far as you can see in all directions, from horizon to horizon. You can see the Havana power plant to the south and the Canton plant to the north. That's how far you can see! On the way back to the car, four crows flew over and an American Kestrel flew rapidly by. One American Bald Eagle was soaring over Thompson Lake. The sun began peeking through the cloudy sky. Hundreds of American Coots were swimming in the shallow waters of Thompson Lake. Thompson Lake has expanded so far! it covers the roads that we used to be able to drive!


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Emiquon Ridge in Black and White.


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