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.

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Claytonia virginica spring beauty

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Pollinator on spring beauty wildflowers.

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Toothwort

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Trillium

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

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Male red-bellied woodpecker

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

Pineapple Sage, Monarch and Hummingbird

The pineapple sage is blooming now.  A week or two ago the monarchs were visiting it and now it is the hummingbird.

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This monarch spent a long afternoon on the pineapple sage.  This picture was from more than a week ago.

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The monarch was also on the zinnias.

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It is so hard to get a picture of the hummingbird from the kitchen window.  Can you see it?

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The hummingbird rested on the crabapple tree branch.

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A male red-bellied woodpecker was checking out the Chinquapin oak trunk.

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Grasshopper sunning on a zinnia.

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The beautiful, messy prairie at the Little Red Schoolhouse nature preserve last week.  Asters, boltonia, and goldenrod.

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Ladybug on American plum tree.  I spotted a bunch of aphids, so I hope the ladybug finds them!

Fall Color:  I heard that the best fall color in northern Illinois is supposed to be in the next 10 days.  It is usually the second or third week of October.

Seeing Red

It has been a cold week and today a few snow flakes are falling.  Here are a few red things I saw this week, as well as  a few shots of the swans and water fowl at Lake Katherine.

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This tree caught our attention at Lake Katherine this morning.  It was a bright spot on a cold morning.

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Back in our yard the fothergilla bush still has all its leaves and was very bright this week.

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Male northern cardinal at bird bath.  Quite a few birds have visited the bird bath since it froze.  Sometime they seem a little puzzled and other times they pick at the ice or snow.

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I saw the male red-bellied woodpecker at the bird bath, but it had flown to the mulberry tree before I got my camera.

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Six swans a swimming.  The swan couple with their four cygnets.  The young swans are pretty much grown up now.  I understand that these are mute swans.  Wikipedia says that mute swans are an introduced species and not native to North America.  They are sometime considered an invasive species when they reduce the density of submerged vegetation.

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We were chatting with someone while looking at the swans and he mentioned that you can tell the adults because their beaks are a brighter orange, whereas the cygnets beaks are still a pale orange.  This man said they will fly away and only the couple will return in the spring.  The cygnets will find new homes next spring.

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There were a lot of ducks in the lake and a lot of them were busy feeding, like this.  We did see one mallard couple doing a little head-bobbing dance.  As we watched we realized it was a mating dance and soon the female dove under water and the male was on top of her for a few seconds and then they swam away together.

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When we got to the lake there was a large gathering of geese.  Maybe it was the dog on the left that chased them and they all started dashing to the water.  A lot of dog walking goes on here.

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Canada goose portrait.

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Beaver activity.  We saw quite a few places around the lake where the beavers have been busy chewing on trees.  From our observations it seemed like the staff took the wire mesh off certain trees to let the beavers gnaw at them, while other trees they want to keep are well protected.  We did not see any evidence of a beaver lodge, but maybe we were not looking in the right place.