Archive for April, 2013

A Short Afternoon Hike

I knew it was going to be a good outing when almost-adult bald eagle flew right over the truck. Adult eagles are 4-5 years old before they get their white head and tail. This eagle had a few brown feathers in its tail. I was so excited, I didn’t check its head.

The woods at Stone Face definitely changed since our last trip. It was so green.

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 Recent rains left a cheerful creek.

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 Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens) bloomed among all the greens.

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 The colors and lines of the hood created an artistic design.

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  Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) grew in large patches.

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Only the plants with two leaves bloom.

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 The flower blooms under the umbrella of leaves.

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Knowing that gemmed satyrs aren’t a tolerant butterfly, I had to stay where I was and zoom in for this picture.

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After such a pleasant hike, we had one more surprise on the way home … a wild turkey walked across the road and into a field.

An Eagle Visit

I photographed the foxes in our yard for the first time this year on April 15. I was so excited, I thought it would make a special day even more special to visit the bald eagle nest too.

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 The day was cloudy and windy.  I don’t like to get too close to the nest and possibly stress the parents.

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Obviously, the one on the left is young … and bigger than I expected.

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  There’s such a feeling to be in the presence of eagles.

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This picture shows 3 in the nest. From a couple of my other pictures, there’s at least 2 eaglets.

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This tree lost a whole trunk 3 or 4 years ago. Eagles will use the same nest every year until something happens to the tree. I do hope that time is a long way away.


So I had my day with both the foxes and the eagles. Now you can to.

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A Dandelion

The angle of the morning sun showcased this tilted dandelion seedhead.

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Horseshoe Upheaval

Southern Illinois definitley has an unique feature, known as the Horseshoe Upheaval.

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The rocks are about 350 million years old and were once some 3,500 feet below the surface. The tremendous power of the earth forced them upward. These upturned rocks are silca-rich limestone and chert of the Fort Payne Formation.

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The Fort Payne layer is the deep rust-colored layer in the above illustration. A line marks the location of the upheaval. The narrow wedge is sandwiched on both sides by younger rocks. This suggests the fault system went through two episodes of movement in opposite directions. First the rocks south of the fault zone were uplifted, bringing the Fort Payne rock to the surface. Then the southern block dropped back down. A wedge of the Fort Payne rock was sheared off and jammed in place within the fault zone.

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I left my truck in the picture for size comparison.

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Notice how the layered chert is turned almost vertical

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Walking isn’t the easiest at this site.

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Calcite veining occurs in a lot of the rock.

IMG_6019 redAgain, the layering was pushed vertically from its original positioning.

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Mosses, lichens and a few plants grow in the upheaval.

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Buffy and I climbed up the slope and

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into the bowl-like top of the upheaval. Obviously, the area is better seen before the trees leaf out.

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This shows limestone.

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We didn’t circle the whole top area. Walking wasn’t the easiest.

The Horseshow Upheaval is part of the Saline County Fish and Wildlife Area.

They’re Nesting in the Barn

They, meaning eastern phoebes, were carrying nesting material into the barn to build their nest during the afternoon of March 28.

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Please excuse the quality of these pictures. I had to sit in the truck, 35 yards away and take them through the windshield.

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 Eastern phoebes are a flycatcher. Early ones began returning to southern Illinois in late February.

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This phoebe landed in the catalpa tree. Apparently, it’s a good place for hawking insects. It flew with its prey into the back of the barn.

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Phoebe’s nest in niches of cliffs, banks beneath bridges, in culverts, and in this case, over the light in our barn. They build the nest with mud pellets, plant fibers, moss, and line it with hair, feathers and grass.

The female lays 4-5 eggs. The eggs are usually white; some may have small brown spots. The eggs are incubated 16 days, and the young fledge in 15-16 days. Their diet consists of mostly of flying insects. I hope the pair use the nest for a second brood.

If I Could …

If I could take this tree trunk home, I would “plant” it in a prominent place in my yard.

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Besides its interesting appearance, it would probably attract wildlife.

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Wildlife could include birds, mammals and/or insects.  They could use it for protection from the weather or predators, a place to den, a place to raise young?

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It would probably have even more uses as the wood decayed.

Foxes are BACK!!!

I was talking to my best friend on the phone, came in the computer room and sat down at the computer. A little fox came out from under the barn. My speech then turned to jibberish. The card wasn’t in my camera. The camera wasn’t on the right settings. I was repeating … have no idea what.

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I finally managed to say “baby fox.” By that time an adult joined the little one.

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They played a little bit. The adult sensed me and looked straight at me. The young went under the barn.

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The adult, which was a male, trotted to the south,

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stopped and looked to the east,

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to the west,

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and trotted on out of the yard.

We didn’t see the fox family last year until May 9. This young looked smaller than the first ones I saw last year.

I know young foxes are called kits. For some reason I’m not inclined to call them that … maybe I’ll switch. When they’re out playing, nursing, being curious, feeding on what dad brought in, I get so engrossed, so excited … well you can see why.

 “Stay tuned.” I plan to share my fox experiences.