Posts Tagged ‘sandstone bluff’

And Black Vultures

The second part of a 2-part blog.

Buffy and I started back the way we came along the bluff. The black vultures were still on the ledge, and they didn’t seem concerned by my presence. I wore a camouflaged coat and drab pants.

We have both black and turkey vultures in southern Illinois. Turkey vultures are the most common. They both spend the winter not far south from here, and both began returning early because of our exceptionally mild winter.

I knew these were black vultures because of their black head. Turkey vultures have a red head, except for the immatures which have a blackish head.

Black vultures have a 23-27 inch wingspan, a white patch underneath near the wing tips, and a short square tail. They lay 2 eggs in tree cavities or shallow caves.

Turkey vultures have a 26-32 inch wing span, and their tail is longer and narrow. They’re black overall except for gray on the underside of their flight feathers. Their 2 eggs are laid in old barns, hollow stumps or logs, and rock crevices.

I had never been that close to a vulture before! A barred owl hooted its “who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all” call 4 times as I took a few more pictures

A great hike just got even better!


Sandstone Bluff and …

First part of a 2-part blog.

It was probably better I didn’t know the elevation from the truck to the base of the sandstone bluff. The trail was steep enough to require switch backs. Buffy and I hiked at Stone Face, a site on the Shawnee National Forest.

The view from the base of the bluff extended 15-20 miles into a blue haze. We followed the trail along the bluff. It wasn’t the easiest place to hike with the ups and downs, and with so many rocks at the surface. I kept taking pictures of the bluff, turning often to check for picture possibilities behind me. Imagine my surprise when I turned and there was a black vulture on a ledge! Another one walked out of a crevice to join it.

I took a few pictures. Buffy and I then walked a little farther and stopped. We sat side-by-side, eating a snack. She was content just to sit, looking around and smelling the smells. A light breeze rustled dry leaves remaining on small trees nearby. No traffic sounds reached us. No other people were there. I prefer to hike where there’s as few people as possible. That way I can completely immerse myself in the experience.

We started back the way we came. The vultures were ….

Continued in a second blog for this trip.