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.

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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.

The Dandelion

The

Common dandelion

Taraxacum officinale

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Foggy Orbs … or … Orby Fog

Traffic lights on the highway showed that a light fog had moved in. I grabbed up my camera and headed out to see how it would look in pictures. The low fog came and went 5-6 times. It was low enough I could look up and see a cloudless sky and Orion. During all the in and out of the house fog watching, I ended up with over 120 pictures. Here are a few that illustrate the many possibilities of fog pictures.

IMG_5439 redThe fog had orbs!

This was the first picture I took at 8:15 p.m.

IMG_5449 redThe fog definitely had orbs,

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and it varied in denseness.

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Every picture was an adventure — I had no idea what to expect next.

IMG_5487 redThe fog lifted from around the pine and hackberry tree..

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Orbs stayed behind.

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Several pictures resembled this one.

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This looked more like an “orby fog”

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 and in this picture too.

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My last trip out at 9:45 p.m. was still foggy. There not being a single orb in my last few pictures shocked me.  Apparently the Spirit Beings that emanated the orbs wanted me to have this experience with the fog and orbs.

This picture also shows that these orbs were not, and could not, be formed by the camera lens.

Rocks

Buffy and I are almost through hiking on Eagle Mountain for a while. Turkey season begins on April 9th, and it’s a favorite place for turkey hunters. There’s only water in the creek when it rains, so water will become scarce. Then there’s the healthy rattlesnake population.  Buffy doesn’t know to watch out for them. I’m basically chicken when it comes to them.

My son, Davis, drove up on the mountain last spring near the first of turkey season. He timed his trip (not intentionally) to hit it just right to see snakes crossing the road. He saw 7. While stopped, one kept striking his truck tire. I drove up there after he told me all this.  I figured I’d be safe in the truck. The snakes had gotten where they were going, and I didn’t see a one.

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Anyway, on this trip, I just moseyed along taking pictures of this and that. This rock has both red and yellow ochre, a by-product of the iron in the sandstone.

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For some reason, I really liked conglomerate rocks (rocks in rocks). The first rocks had to become rocks, and then they ended up on other rocks.

IMG_5095 redThe lime green is dried algae. The mustard color is yellow ochre too.

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Rocks offer endless designs, sizes and shapes.

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The raised pattern in this one is from the iron in the sandstone. It can be quite dramatic at times.

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And one of my favorites — petrified wood. The brownish-yellow streakish lines is the petrified wood.

IMG_5102 redThis rock shows a different preservation of petrified wood.

IMG_5105 alt cropMore iron designs with the ochres.

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And  another one too.

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This iron “container” was filled in with ochre.

Ochre will rub off on your finger. I’ve read that Native Americans would grind the ochre, mix it with animal fat and then paint a design on a rock. Over time the iron would leach into the stone and the picture remain. Pictographs are drawings or a painting. Petroglyph images are carved. One site on our Shawnee National Forest has one such pictograph, called “buffalo on the rock.”  Vandalism has taken its toll on the buffalo. I didn’t mean to get into that.

As for the rocks, I could walk this creek and never cease to be amazed by their variaties.