June Garden and Illinois Waterways

Everything is growing and green now!  The trees have leafed out, the flowers are taking their turns blooming, the vegetables are getting going and the weeds are doing what weeds do…  The birds and the bees are active!


The chinquapin oak tree is on the left and the crabapple tree on the right.  The crabapple is having another bad year, with the leaves turning brown and falling.  Last year we did not have any crabapples and that might happen again this year.  But we are enjoying the irises blooming this week.


Red iris


The male northern flicker was hanging out looking for an ant meal.


The yarrow flowers have finally turned yellow.  In the back you can see the first pink foxglove flower.


Foxglove in foreground, on the left the lady’s mantle is blooming, and in the back penstemon – beardtongue – is getting ready to bloom.


The grasses in the unmowed “meadow” catch the morning sunlight.  The grasshoppers and damselflies love this area.  The robins are starting to visit the serviceberry bush for a berry snack.  The raspberries on the fence are forming and will ripen in a few weeks.

Road Trip

10 days ago we headed out for a four-day vacation in central Illinois.  The day we took off was rainy, so we spent time driving down to Alton, IL.


The fields were just getting started.  We enjoyed being out in the country.


Thursday morning we visited the Audubon Center at Riverlands in Alton, where we spotted this Eastern Kingbird.


The male indigo bunting kept its distance, but the color is wonderful!


Many areas along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers were flooded.  We went hiking at Pere Marquette State Park.  Climbing the hills got us away from the flooding and provided wonderful views of the Illinois River.  Can you see the little brown ribbon of a trail we took to get us up to this hilltop where a few benches provided a rest area?


Dan on the Pere Marquette State Park trail.


The next morning we visited the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area and enjoyed a walk around this little pond.

We did not stay long as our goal was to visit Emiquon, run by the Nature Conservancy.


Emiquon is a Nature Conservancy project in a flood plain along the Illinois River, and a lot of migrating birds stop over here.  However, migration season is mostly over and this time of year is when the flooding is the highest.


We tried, without much luck, to zoom in on birds across the water that looked like pelicans.


We drove by a snapping turtle, but did not get too close.

Then we crossed the Illinois River and went over to take a look at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, where the flood waters were high as well.


A lot of drift wood came to rest on the shore at Chautauqua Lake.


Red-headed woodpecker at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.


On Saturday we visited Matthiessen State Park on the Vermillion River.  Since it was Memorial Day weekend the crowds were large and the trails had turned into muddy pits, that took a lot of skill to navigate!


Cedar waxwings were in the tree above the river.  I have seen them in our yard this week, too, looking for serviceberries or other ripe berries.


Sunrise view from the hotel in Yorkville, where we stayed Saturday night.


We visited Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area on Sunday morning.  There were several lakes as well as a trail along the Fox River.

We enjoyed all the places we saw and now will get back to hiking in our wonderful neck of the woods.

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