Spring Wildflowers and Birds

Spring Wildflowers and Birds

When we went to the Palos Forest Preserve yesterday we noticed all the spring woodland wildflowers starting to open up.

IMG_7451

Claytonia virginica spring beauty

IMG_7500

Pollinator on spring beauty wildflowers.

 IMG_7428.JPG

Toothwort

IMG_7505.JPG

Trillium

IMG_7440

There are two or more different sets of leaves here which may produce flowers, but not sure what they will be…

IMG_7459

Male red-bellied woodpecker

IMG_7357.JPG

We saw a bird fly in and out of this knot hole, but did not see what kind of bird it was.

IMG_7465

Northern flickers.  The female is on the left and the male on the right.

IMG_7557

This morning we went to the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, where we saw this white-breasted nuthatch, right near the sign for snake crossings.

IMG_7532

Mertensia virginica Virginia bluebells

IMG_7556In the wetlands there were large swaths of marsh marigolds.

IMG_7554Close-up of marsh marigolds

IMG_7548Podophillum peltatum mayapples.  We came across this patch of mayapples starting to come up as we walked along on to the Sagawau trail.

IMG_7543Violets were blooming here and there.

IMG_7565

Back in my yard I have started to plant the vegetable garden.  Curly kale and romaine lettuce in this picture, but also, cauliflower, collards and eggplant.

Nasturtiums, Goldenrod and the Forest Preserve

We have had beautiful fall weather! Here is a little of what is happening in the yard.

IMG_1277

Nasturtiums and alyssum.  I never seem to have enough nasturtiums in the garden, but thankful for what I have!

IMG_1256

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod.  It is that time of year again, and I still have three stands of this goldenrod.

IMG_1288

Wasp on goldenrod.  I tried to figure out what kind of wasp this is, but was not successful.  The goldenrod is covered by flies, bees and wasps.

IMG_1250

Zebra grass at sunrise from kitchen window.

IMG_1342

Viburnum dentatum ‘Chicago lustre’ bushes loaded with berries.  Bird food.

IMG_1269

Pink turtlehead flower.  Bee food.

IMG_1332

Daddy Longlegs spider in the pole beans.  Every time I have gone to pick green beans I see the daddy longlegs spiders scurrying away.  This must be their home.  When I looked for them to take pictures today I found three of them.  Creepy!

IMG_1229

When it rains the toad comes out.  This guy came all the way up on the patio.

IMG_1295

We went for a walk in the Cook County Forest Preserve on this cloudy morning.  They are celebrating 100 years.  This was at the Little Red School house trail and we stopped to watch the birds in the prairie.  I believe the yellow flowers are compass plants.

IMG_1293

The goldfinch was getting some seeds for breakfast.

IMG_1306

We spent some time looking out at the Long John Slough, which was covered with lily pads in many places.  There was a cormorant and a variety of skittish ducks that we spooked.

IMG_1299

We saw two beavers.  This beaver swam across the slough toward us and kept an eye on us while it munched on lily pads.

IMG_1313

We came across a nuthatch as we walked through the woods.  We had trouble trying to get pictures of it as it climbed the tree.

IMG_1321

We spent a while trying to get bird pictures, but we were not very successful.  I put this picture in because I think it is a male hairy woodpecker, and I think this is the first time I have gotten a picture of one.

Enjoy autumn!!

Thanksgiving Wanderings

For Thanksgiving we took a trip to Minnesota to visit family.  There was some fresh snow on the ground so I walked out to the woods, but the birds were too elusive that morning, so I took some tree pictures.

Garden 11 29 14 057

Two grand trees.  Red Wing, Minnesota.  In the background you can see the snow on top of Barn Bluff.

Garden 11 29 14 063

Here you can see Barn Bluff again under another weathered tree, with a nice evergreen tree in the background.

Garden 11 29 14 061

The structure of this tree is silhouetted in snow.

Garden 11 29 14 076

Red (pine) squirrel.   These squirrels are about half the size of gray squirrels and this one was chattering quite loudly at me.

Garden 11 29 14 080

I managed to get one, not so great, nuthatch picture.  This past week I saw a nuthatch in our yard at home, too.

Garden 11 29 14 083

As we drove home I was trying to take some pictures through the car window.  The Mississippi river was mostly frozen and had a very geometric design on the snow and ice.

Garden 11 29 14 091

Across the road from the Mississippi river were the bluffs.  Highway 61 is a beautiful drive.

Garden 11 29 14 096

A few hay bales in the snow.  It was nice to be in the country for a little bit.

Garden 11 29 14 100

Wisconsin farm and corn field.

Garden 11 29 14 008

Back in our yard…  I caught the chickadee working on getting a little crabapple this week.

Garden 11 29 14 012

There seem to be at least two cats in the neighborhood this year.  Since we seem to have an over-abundance of sparrows this year, maybe it is not such a bad thing…  As long as they aren’t getting the native birds!

Winter:  Winter seemed to come early this year.  We have had many days below freezing already.  Today we got up over 50 degrees, though, so the snow is gone.  The compost pile is steaming hot.  We still eat a little kale from the yard.  But now it is time to relax, get cozy, ready some good books, and of course, shovel some snow!