Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue Heron

From the archives: This Heron was captured at Chain of Lakes State Park. It was busy fishing for frogs at the edge of a lake.

Monday, November 29, 2010


From the archives: Sunrise over the Little Calumet in Gary, Indiana.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mystery Picture Saturday --Chance to win free note cards

Last week's mystery picture was of one of my favorite places in Harmonie State Park.

Harmonie State Park has some of the best trails of all the Indiana parks. Trails follow a small stream that carries tiny fish directly into the Wabash.

The park protects a delicate ecosystem not found elsewhere in Indiana; it feels like a different world.

The park is totally transformed from one season to another. There are delicate wildflowers underneath the trees and tucked into ravines in the spring. In the summer the sunlight filtering down through the trees feels as if it comes directly down from the angels in heaven.

And then there is early fall, my favorite time; when the butterflies congregate around the nature center, the plums and persimmons fall wild from the trees, and you just might catch the biggest fish you ever caught while fishing from the bank of the Wabash in the center of the park.

This week's mystery picture is of an Indiana immigrant:

Put your guess of where in Indiana this picture was taken in the comments. All correct guesses go into a hat for a chance to win some Blue Heron Moon Notecards when the first day of spring gets here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Book Shelf

One of the best books that I have found regarding forests, forestry, and logging is The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant.

Most books on the subject of forests come down heavily on the side of ecology or the logging companies. This book tells the whole story of a northwest forest from the first tree's appearance before the pyramids of Egypt appeared on the earth, to the appearance of the first men, the first white men, the first loggers, the first chainsaw, and the first man who was brave enough to sacrifice a sacred tree on behalf of a sacred disappearing forest.

The Golden Spruce does not take sides, leaving the reader to struggle with the issues of vanishing resources vs people just struggling to make a living vs pure naked greed. It is not an easy decision to make even with all the facts outlined.

The book centers around one tree; a spruce with defects that give it a golden hue. We listen and watch as this tree becomes part of a surrounding forest and lives for thousands of years standing sentinel over the tragic happenings that men bring to the forest. Until finally, in the end the tree stands alone with only a sample of the vast majestic forest that once was home; saved from destruction by some defective genes.

Then comes a man; a master logger who one day looks around him and sees the forest for the tree. He alone knows the destruction that has occurred to the forest in the 20th century; how much has disappeared never to reappear in thousands of years. And it drives him crazy to see that the people honor the golden spruce in lieu of the whole forest.   

This book will open your eyes and force you to look at your back deck (or front deck) (or both) with new eyes. This book allows us to glimpse the true cost of those decks we love so well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Here are a couple of wild turkeys that got away at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife in Indiana.

Well they got away until turkey season.....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big Buck

The weather here has taken a turn for the worse. High winds and temps below freezing and not a squirrel or bird in sight!

So here is a big buck that I have been saving in the archives. He was captured next to the bicycle trail near the Little Calumet River in Gary, Indiana.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Potato Creek State Park

Indiana has so many wonderful state parks, it is difficult to choose a favorite. But if I had to choose, I would pick Potato Creek.

With miles of biking and hiking trails, a lake with some pretty good fishing at times, and a babbling creek to listen to; this park offers more than you can do in just a day.

Potato Creek's wildlife and fauna is abundant; swans, herons, beaver, deer can be spotted, although in November when the park goes through annual goose and deer reduction hunts, it can get difficult to scare up even a bird. 

The leaves are off the trees now and you just might catch a view of a bluebird on one of the trails. If not, the quiet beauty of the park in winter will have you winding through the bicycle trail all winter long.           

Monday, November 22, 2010

Squirrels everywhere are rejoicing this year due to an abundance of acorns and nuts. It's a good year.

This lady was trying to lead me away from her little ones the other day at Potato Creek State Park.

It's a little late in the year to have such tiny babies but this is an exceptional year due to the excellent acorn crop.

The babies were miniatures of Mama; only about 1/4 her size and way too fast for my camera.   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mystery Picture Saturday --Chance to win free note cards

Last week's mystery picture was Turkey Run State Park in Parke County Indiana.  The picture was taken in Turkey Run Hollow directly across the suspension bridge that is behind the lodge.

Turkey Run State Park is one Indiana's prettiest parks, especially in the fall. Parke County has many covered bridges and hosts the Covered Bridge Festival every October that attracts thousands of people from all over the country to sample hoosier hospitality.

I recommend the park in early spring, just as  the wildflowers start to bloom, a couple of weeks before the trees get their leaves.

To be included in a free drawing to win Blue Heron Moon Notecards on the first day of spring leave your guess on where in Indiana the following picture was taken in the comments:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Book Shelf

For tree identification 101 Trees of Indiana by Marion T. Jackson is the book that can't be beat.

It must have been the author's love for Indiana that made him put the Indiana in the title because the book would be a great reference for the entire eastern United States.

The book is the easiest and most comprehensive reference on trees that I have come across. Each tree is referenced by not only a photograph of leaves and bark but a photograph of twig, flower, and fruit is included. A map of Indiana references the counties where each tree can be found.

Additional references for habitat, wood uses, and wildlife importance as well as any underlying pests or diseases that affect each tree are included to make this one of the most complete tree guides that exist.

So whether you are interested in trees of Indiana or the whole eastern United States, 101 Trees of Indiana is a comprehensive guide for your shelf.   

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forestry Potato Creek Style

Something is gnawing the trees in Potato Creek State Park. The culprits are sly and sneaky.

They never show their furry, toothy faces when humans are about.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This blue heron was out in the lake at Potato Creek State Park the day after the goose reduction hunt; brave bird.

The fishing wasn't good for it either. The weather was chilly and I had to wonder why this blue heron hasn't flown off to warmer, more productive fishing elsewhere.   

Monday, November 15, 2010

Springhouse at Potato Creek State Park

Potato Creek State Park was once a farm and small bits of the farm are left.

The spring house once housed preserves harvested from the farm  and refreshing spring water ran through the structure.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mystery Picture Saturday --Chance to win free note cards

The answer to last week's mystery picture was Gene Stratton-Porter's home and grave site in Wildflower Woods in Rome City, Indiana.

Gene Stratton-Porter was an Indiana naturalist and writer. She wrote several really great novels; a couple of which were made into movies.

But her real love and where she left her true legacy was her love for Indiana's swamps, woods, wildflowers, and wildlife, especially moths. Her book on moths is a real treasure if you can find one and afford it. Recently, some of her books were put back into print by the Indiana University Press    

The Wildflower Woods property is worth the trip. Some really great times to go are May through August when the wildflowers and garden are in full bloom. The house gets decorated for Christmas and is absolutely stunning. A lot of hard work goes into maintaining and keeping this property as stunning as it is.

This weeks mystery place is another easy one; leave your guesses in the comments for a chance to win a set of Blue Heron Moon Note cards on the first day of spring:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Potato Creek Cormorants

The Cormorants of Potato Creek State Park are some of my favorite Indiana characters.

Normally they are found perched in a dead tree towards the middle of the lake. But, probably due to a recent goose reduction hunt, the cormorants have recently moved out further into the lake.

Here they are pictured on their new perches looking like they are riding the ferry to the other side of the lake. They spent the afternoon gazing into the middle of the lake with an occasional preening of feathers.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Woolly Worm The Movie

Even though no Woolly Worms were injured in this movie he does have a mishap. He was OK and moving just as fast as before. I never did find out what the rush was.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Needless Suffering

One of my favorite movies is Winged Migration produced by Sony Pictures. The movie covers a whole year of bird migration. You are privileged to follow along with the migration of different groups of birds.

There are heart wrenching parts of the movie. In one sequence after you have followed a group of geese through the spring migration and raising a brood of chicks, the geese set out for the fall migration and suddenly they are shot at by hunters. Even as a meat eater, I feel a minute of sadness as a couple of birds fall.

But the parts that bring tears are the senseless loss of life; one bird falls into an oily retention pond at a factory.

And then there is the poor duck that goes the whole year with a string tied to his leg. Every now and then during the year he tries to peck the thing off of his leg but never does. Even as the credit rolls he still wears his tiny piece of human garbage.

Anyone who has ever seen a bird at the beach with a piece of garbage tied around a leg, neck, or wing will know what I'm talking about. The bird will suffer; sometimes starve to death, needlessly.

I have found miles of ribbons once attached to balloons on beaches. This garbage endangers wildlife. Don't release balloons with ribbons attached. Ribbons can be recycled. Balloons should be disposed of properly.

Pass the word.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time to go to Sleep--Guy

Following our weekend snow, the ground is still cold even with our warmer day time temperatures.

That's why I was surprised to come across this little guy in the middle of the Dunes path. He was so cold I could poke at him and he didn't even attempt to get away. He did jump a tiny bit so he wasn't flash frozen.

I cupped my hand over him and he seemed to warm up a bit and could leap a little more.

I think it's time to go to sleep for the year, little guy....go find yourself a nice spot somewhere off of the middle of the trail.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's a Marshmellow World

Saturday morning dawned cold and marshmellowy with our first snowfall of the season. The first flakes fell the day before on Friday, November 5.

The white stuff didn't last much past noon and today we are supposed to be back into global warming with 60-70F temperatures.

Winter doesn't have us yet. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mystery Picture Saturday --Chance to win free note cards

Since it's winter time in Northern Indiana, with the days getting shorter and colder, I'm changing things in the blog a bit.

On Fridays over the winter I'll be offering a review of a book on nature that I recommend for winter evening reading. These are can't miss books that are so good you'll have to rush out and read them, if you truly love nature.

On Saturdays I will be posting a picture of a place somewhere in Indiana. Everyone is welcome to identify the picture and post to the comments where in Indiana the picture was taken. I will identify the previous week's picture on Saturday when I post a new picture of the week.  On the first day of spring I will put all the correct answers in a hat and will send the winner that I pull out of the hat a set of Blue Heron Moon Note cards from my Etsy shop. 

Here is the first mystery picture. It is an easy one:

Post your answer in the comments before Saturday November 13th for a chance to win the note cards. Good Luck!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Invasive Species -- Bittersweet

The Indiana DNR has been spending a lot of time pulling weeds at the Indiana Dunes.

They pull cattails out of the bog. Even though cattails are indigenous to Indiana they do not belong in the bog. They change the landscape of the bog pushing out native plants. Once the cattails are removed, sedges native to the area of the bog are planted. We have so little bog areas left like those at the Dunes. The bogs contain unique ecosystems that harbor endangered plant and animal species.

 Another of the invasive species is a plant that makes it into fall flower arrangements is bittersweet. This invasive is not indigenous to Indiana and is very invasive. The DNR worked hard for a couple of years pulling this plant out of the Dunes and it is now finding it's way back into the ecosystem. Plants like the bittersweet choke out trees and native plants that native animals, birds, and butterflies need to survive.       

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Birch-- the Clones of the Tree World

One of my favorite trees is the White Birch. Their white branches reaching toward the sky are particularly beautiful on a late fall day.

The White Birch is not abundant in Indiana, we have only a few stands here and there. This bunch can be found growing along side Cowles bog in the Indiana Dunes. The trees like the edges of wetlands to grow along.

The trees grow in groups and trees within each group of trees are clones of the first growing up through the ground from the first tree.   

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red Tailed Pennant

Over the last few weeks the Red Tailed Pennant Dragonflies have been abundant and mating.

With the recent light frosts, they have been diminishing but, unbelievably for this late in the season, there are still a few of these brilliantly red guys flying about.

They are the last of the dragonflies the year will have to offer. When they are gone,  we'll have to wait until April to see any more dragonflies.     

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Black Locust in chains

 Here's a Black Locust that looks as if it's being tortured. It is covered with, what appears to be a string of thorns.


Actually, what appears to be thorns are part of the buds on this tree.

This is one of my favorite kinds of trees, although it is not native to northern Indiana. This tree has lovely strings of sweet smelling white blossoms in the spring. It leaves the ground beneath covered in long seed packets that rattle when you shake them in the fall. 

As you may have guessed by the look of the seed packets, the Black Locust is a member of the pea family. It is just a big pea making some great hard wood. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Chain of Lakes--a Gift of a Glacier

The northern Indiana landscape was formed during the last ice age as glaciers moved in out of the area. This left us with giant boulders in strange places, a line of sand dunes, and a string of small "kettle" shaped lakes strung across the landscape like tiny pearls. 

It was a perfect fall day; brilliantly sunny but chilly. I was in search of the ever elusive chipmunk; it's a good year; there are many due to a good crop of acorns. Alas, I was foiled by a red tailed hawk that seemed to follow me down the trail at our Chain of Lakes State Park.

The park is long and skinny encompassing the chain of lakes. Paths wander in and out of the woods along the lakes and across the bridges over streams connecting the lakes.

We are left with the birds that will winter with us; tiny chickadees were about.  Whenever I would silence my noisy, clumsy footsteps shuffling through the leaves I would hear the woodpeckers rata-tat-tat. I came across a tall dead tree that was alive with woodpeckers inside; a part of a wetlands in between the lakes.

My favorite part of the park is down trail number 4. The trail is a quiet one. It winds first through a large patch of forest, up some steep hills left by the glacier, and finally there is a lake with a patch of wetland on the side. There stand three cypress trees, a rarity in Indiana and very beautiful this time of year. Often I find a blue heron there but today there was only a fisherman in a boat. Perhaps the heron has flown south for the winter. 

I love a hike on a chilly day shortly after most of the leaves have fallen. Birds are easier to spot on trees without leaves. And the sun is still bright through the trees; a wonderful atmosphere for a quiet thank you to the glacier for molding the land for such a perfect day.