Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring: Don't Miss It

It is hard to believe but nearly 2 weeks of spring have already gone by. Even though the calendar and weather announcers are there to tell us that spring has arrived, if we had been paying attention, we would have known already.

If you have a minute this year, in addition to going out in the yard to admire the bulbs breaking the ground, find a wild place.

Go find your nearest river, lake, or marsh. Take a jar; examine the water. If you're lucky you will discover a wide variety of critters in that tiny jar of water. The greater the variety, the cleaner, better the quality of the water.

Listen to those spring peepers calling to each other. As dusk falls, they just might begin their mating migrations. They'll be munching on some of those critters that are in your jar of water, as those critters change into flying adults. 

Find a heron eating its fill of those frogs. Or discover where the muskrat nibbles its weeds; where the ground hog finally, really, peeks out of its hole.

Spend a whole day exploring the world. Watch a robin couple build their nest. Listen to a cardinal sing his cheery song to his favorite girl. Hear the birds that don't frequent your back yard feeders; the swamp sparrow or meadow lark.

Walk and listen and look at the detail. Spring comes in subtle ways. It's here. Don't miss it.          

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So Many Dependents

It is amazing to watch all the animals that depend on this bayou of the Kankakee River. On any warm spring day herons, coots, geese, muskrat, turtle, and frogs can be seen in addition to the humans trying to scare up a fish dinner.

In the meantime, butterflies and dragonflies are waiting their turn to emerge from the depths of winter. And soon the swallows will return to sweep over the water in search of mosquito dinner.

Truly a magical place.

Monday, March 28, 2011


"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood!"
Although I have seen beaver at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area, I believe these trees and others are the work of the land dwelling beaver cousins, the groundhog or woodchuck.

They've been busy.   

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Fishing Trip of the Year

Didn't have much luck fishing this week on the Kankakee River. I tried some bee moth and a couple of different lures with only a couple of bites.

The day was full of beautiful scenery. The trail was mystically hazy. The weather was brilliantly warm for March in Indiana.

In spite the poor fishing results; a perfect day. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Prime Real Estate

With all the water from snow melt and recent rains covering the river bayous, basking logs for newly awakened turtles is at a premium.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bog

Bogs are a type of wetland area that is very acidic. The water is brown due to the high levels of tannic acid. For this reason there aren't many frogs hanging out in the bog; they go for better water elsewhere.

But bogs provide a home to some rare plants, including orchids that love the acidic conditions.

Much of our coal deposits are the result of ancient bogs.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Warm Up

Here's last year's Canadian Goose family that was born and raised at Sunset Hills County Park.

The couple is back this year and looks to be in the market for some more family raising real estate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fallen Trees

Just days before Christmas last year, I nearly had a tree fall on my home. It was during one of those windy snow storms that I heard the creaking come from the tree. I looked up in horror as half the giant tree swayed toward my home. Every future Christmas I will  look back and give thanks for those hard working guys that came out on a cold and stormy night to shore up that tree for later removal.

This was a bad winter for trees everywhere. During a recent walk at the Indiana Dunes I found several trees in the bog that had tipped over. Many of the bog trees have shallow roots making them targets of the heavy winds and snow that we had this winter. 

The natural cycle of the trees of the bog can be seen at different stages. Little islands form in the bog itself. Trees take root,  growing taller as other trees around them become too tall and are targets of the windy weather. When the trees fall they often take the whole island with them. And they slowly return to the bog to nourish another island; another tree. 


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Beauty of Skunk Cabbage

An amazing wetland plant is skunk cabbage. It attracts its pollinators by producing a scent of rotting meat. I have not personally experienced this aroma even though I have spent several years photographing the beauty of the plant coming up through the early spring bog.

This plant creates its own heat source as it comes up through the ground, even as the snow lies on the frozen earth, allowing it to become one of the first bloomers of the year.      

But the true wonder of this plant, for me, is the beauty of its swirls in red and green reflecting in the bog water.  And the treasure it keeps hidden in its center. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mystery Picture Saturday --- Name this place win some Note cards

Last week's mystery picture was taken in Deep River County Park in Lake County Indiana.

The first day of spring is upon us. And there have been no correct answers to the Mystery Pictures all winter!

I still would like to send someone a set of note cards, so anyone who leaves me a comment stating the best place to view spring wildflowers, between now and Sunday, March 20th, at 11:59 will go into the drawing.

Good Luck!   

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winter's last grasp is slipping from the year. Cowles Bog at the Indiana Dunes is starting to show signs of spring.

Singing birds, warm temperatures, and the fresh smell of the bog water receiving its cleansing as it flows through the earth of the bog; all are signs of spring.

The unique ecosystem of the bog is found no where else on earth.

Bye Bye Buddy!
Precious bog coming to life; giving life. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011


This winter was so bad, there are very little milkweed seeds left over in March like this one remained same time last year.

Soon the heady flowers will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

According to the milkweed seeds were collected by children and turned into the government during WWII. The seeds were stuffed into vests and flight jackets for the troops.   

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Warm Up

Hopefully we won't need much more of these Wednesday warm ups. The first day of spring is next week.

Here's a butterfly to warm your Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Big Nut

Chipmunks are challenging photography subjects. Many times I've snapped what, I thought, would be a wonderful picture, only to find that I had captured a blurring get away.

This little guy (or gal) was more concerned with the large nut he was carrying than me and my camera. He wasn't about to give up such a prize.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Marsh

The green of spring starts out in the water in a canal at the Kankakee Marsh.

Algae have been blooming underneath the ice for a month, feeding the tiny organisms that are beginning to wake to become food for fish, birds, and frogs.    

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mystery Picture Saturday --- Name this place win some Note cards

Last week's picture was taken at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area near Shelby Indiana. The preserve is a great place for fishing; hunting is also permitted in season and out of hunting season the area is a great place to view deer, herons, muskrat, beaver, swans, geese, and duck.

The wetlands harbor all sorts of frogs, dragonflies, and fauna. Wildflowers nurture the most butterflies that you will ever see concentrated in one place in the summertime.

This week's picture is below. Leave a guess as to where this was taken for a chance to win in the drawing on the first day of spring. Only one more mystery picture remains after this one. Spring draws near....


Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Bookshelf

What is the worth you place on a river otter, a tree, a forest, or a river? How much for that home where the muskrats lounge in the spring sunshine? Have you ever seen a whale in its natural habitat? What would that be worth to you?

In Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Really Mattered, by Bill Devall, George Sessions, these questions are posed and a thoughtful debate is begun on answers that would make it possible to invest as much in the earth and place as much importance in nature, as our society places in things like iPads, smart phones, and satellite television.

Preservation and maintenance, good stewardship of the natural world does not come for free. Most of us without thinking automatically assume that nature is as free as the air we breathe. On the contrary, nature is a valuable resource that takes millions to protect, manage, and maintain. The human world, without thinking, destroys much of what we need to protect.

This book is not aimed at transforming people into nature lovers. It is for the lovers of nature who would like to change their own little corner of the world in tiny ways that, when added to the next guy's tiny ways, add up to a national park, river, or whale becoming more important (at least as important) as that latest iPad or phone.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Have you ever taken a cattail home? Placed it in a vase or dried flower arrangement?

I did; one autumn. The following spring I woke up to a livingroom full of floating fluff as the cattails let loose their seed.

Cattails are really a very versatile plant. They will populate any naked dirt in a wetland ahead of most other plants. Native Americans knew the value of the plant; flour from the roots, lining everything from moccosins to papoose carriers with the downy seed. Some people are even thinking that the plant might be a good source of biofuel.

Muskrats and other animals love to eat cattails and muskrats use the plant for their houses.

From now on though, I'll leave them where they stand. No more exploding dried flower arrangements....  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday Warm Up

Let's hope that the weekend snow was the last of the winter.

How's that for a warm thought?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Muskrat Sam

One lone muskrat took advantage of the warmer weather at the marsh to fix up under water entrances to his home.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sandhill Cranes

If it would have been a sunny day, the cranes would have been high above riding the thermals; it was cloudy with a sprinkle of rain coming down. The migrating cranes, hundreds of them, flew into the marsh for a rest along their migration.     

Hundreds of these large, majestic birds can make a marsh quake; their calls to each other as they land are deafening. They take off in a flutter of wings that creates its own wind, rivaling a helicopter.

Keep an eye towards the sky as these magnificent birds make their way north through Indiana this month.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mystery Picture Saturday --- Name this place win some Note cards

Last weeks mystery picture was taken at Chain of Lakes State Park right off of my favorite trail.

This week's picture is below; just a couple more weeks to the drawing on the first day of spring; hard to believe this vicious winter is almost over. Leave your guess in the comments and you'll have a chance to win some notecards from the Blue Heron Moon Etsy store.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Bookshelf

There are two sides to every issue; environmental issues seem especially divided. Compromises are a necessary ingredient in solutions. Sometimes understanding the other side brings innovative win-win solutions that no one was aware existed.

That is why Taking Sides Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues by Theodore D. Goldfarb is an important, well read book on my shelf.

This book outlines 18 important and controversial environmental issues. Then 2 experts on either side of each issue offer up their side. After that it is up to you to decide where you stand. You'll find that things are not as black and white as you once believed. You'll also find that there are no easy answers.

Ideally this book would be read by everyone. It should be part of every school curriculum. No matter where someone stand on the issues, everyone should be aware that they exist. Solutions to problems don't always come from predictable sources. Sometimes answers are floating around in left field; the only problem is that left field isn't aware of the problem's existence.

There are no clear answers or sides in Taking Sides but if everyone read this book we'd have a lot more options.          

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bubble Breath

See that bubble at the rear end of this aquatic beetle? That is this beetle's little stash of air to breath while he hunts for underwater critters to eat or hides from my camera underneath this blade of grass.

Beetles go up to the surface rear first to obtain a new bubble of air that can keep them oxygenated for several minutes under water; no air tank needed here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday Warm Up

Even though it's March, it's still cold outside. I'm dreaming of the swallows return.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Isn't it's March!

Won't it be grand to see winter out of the way this year? Already the birds are singing and tiny bits of green are popping up in the woods.

Spring is right around the corner.