Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Emiquon's Northern Prairie

The prairie on the north side of Thompson Lake has not been restored like the prairie on the west side of the highway. It is a bit ragged, but interesting, with huge areas of Goldenrod juxtaposed against large areas of Foxtail grass. The plant communities change as the land becomes higher and drier or lower and wetter. At one time there would have been a bottom land forest covering the area. TNC has planted a lot of trees on the higher ground, but hasn't done much but some mowing on the land closer to the lake.

TNC property begins with the prairie. The farmland next to it is privately owned.

As I look across the prairie from the levee, I can see the farmhouse on Clark Road and the trees along the bluff on the west side of the road. In between is a huge expanse of prairie undergoing plant succession, the continuous and fairly predictable change of plant species and communities over time. It is interesting to compare this area with the manipulated prairie west of the highway.

From the levee, I can see the prairie as it grows up the bluff and one of the TNC outbuildings on the west side of the highway, four or five miles a way. What a wonderful unobstructed view! On this day in September, the humidity was very low, providing an excellent view.

Butterflies and grasshoppers were still abundant in September.

Common Buckeye Butterfly:

Eastern Tailed-blue Butterfly:

Black Swallowtail Butterfly:

These are just a few of the many things one can see at Emiquon's northern prairie.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monarch Migration

Monarchs were migrating through the Emiquon Valley in mid-September.





Dragonfly Migration

In mid-September, the dragonflies, mostly Green Darners, came through the Illinois River Valley in force. Everywhere I looked there were dragonflies all along the bluff. They moved like a river down the bluffs to the valley. I have never seen so many dragonflies in my life. It was impossible to capture the phenomenon, but I tried!