Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weldon Springs State Park

Weldon Springs State Park is a gem of a park south of Clinton, Illinois. The source of the water which flows from the natural springs can be traced to a river that flowed through DeWitt County millions of years ago. This river, known as the Teays River, was born in the Paleozoic Age when the land began to rise and drain the inland sea which once covered most of central North America. The Teays was the predecessor of the Ohio River; it reached a width of fifteen miles in DeWitt County. The glaciers of the Pleistocene Age ("Ice Age") ultimately destroyed the river on the surface of the earth. The Kansan glacier completely covered the Teays, and the Illinoisan and Wisconsin glaciers deposited as much as 200 feet of glacial till over thevalley, completely obliterating the river. The Teays stopped flowing as a surface stream, but groundwater continues to flow, seeping out of the sand and gravel to form the springs.

As we walked along the Old Farm Trail on the north end of the park, a small bird flew from a tree into the grassy valley floor. I believe it is a female Orchard Oriole.

A male Baltimore Oriole sang from a tree near the path.

We flushed a pheasant as we walked.

We noticed some Turkey Vultures circling high above, then spotted one on one of the old barns near the trail.

Several others were perched in a tree.

They took off one by one, flying low over our heads.

Later a group of vultures landed on the barn.

We found another (or the same?) female Orchard Oriole along with a male on our walk back along to the car.

A Field Sparrow sang from a brushy bush.

To finish the walk, I snapped a photo of a Least Skipper resting on a very green leaf.