Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hoosier Virginia Bluebells

Looking just like their name, (for once!), Virginia Bluebells are ringing in the May flowers at Coffee Creek.

Bluebells are getting rarer as wetlands and flood plains are dried up, filled in, and bulldozed.

But in the flood plain of  Coffee Creek they are putting on quite the show this spring.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Reflections

Easter morning was a quiet one at Sunset Hill County Park; a pair of mallards gliding silently across the pond and one lone muskrat trying to hide from a human with two dogs. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bloodroot

Can you imagine naming this delicate spring wildflower Bloodroot? The flower got its name because the root is red. In fact, the root was used by Native Americans for red dye for things like war paint.

So just think about that as you spot the flowers next to streams and in loamy areas. This one and many more were found in Potato Creek State Park but hurry they won't last long...    

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Beauty

Potato Creek State Park has just begun its wildflower display; the forest understory is seemingly covered with flowers.

One tiny flower that makes up for smallness in its abundance is the Spring Beauty. It must be examined closely for the full effect of its beauty. Notice those pink anthers?

This wildflower grows from tubers, much like potatoes and was eaten by Native Americans. The taste is said to be like chestnuts; but, sadly, who really knows what chestnuts taste like these days?

Try to make some time, between all those spring showers we've been getting lately, to get out and see the show . The Beauties won't be around long.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April showers bring....

Spring has come in subtle ways this April.

But soon, just as the poem states we'll have May flowers....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Daffodils

Spring Daffodils are brightening up every corner of Indiana now; under trees, along fence lines; in State and County parks and along roadsides.
  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marsh Marigolds

In the wetland at Coffee Creek the Marsh Marigolds are making an appearance. The pretty yellow flowers seem to be more numerous this year and are putting on quite the show.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who left their pantaloons in the park? And tiny spring babies...

Sunset Hill County Park is just beginning its spring wildflower show. Now blooming are Dutch Breeches, tiny pantaloons hanging from thin stems. Dutch Breeches can be found on the forest floor in drier areas with rich soil.













And new this spring to Sunset Hill are tiny baby goats. The Mama and Papa goats arrived from Minnesota last fall and apparently they spent the winter quite busy, because within the last two weeks 6 tiny baby goats have appeared.

They are ever so cute and being cared for by a young 4H'er. The goats are just the beginning of exciting changes being made to the park.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Robin

Even though robins are generally thought of as harbingers of spring, they live, even in this northern part of Indiana, all year around.

This robin was hanging out at Coffee Creek with a bit of dirt on his beak. Whether the occurrence of dirt was due to worm grubbing or nest building I can't say.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Basking in the Sun

Nothing on earth enjoys the sun as much as a turtle. The other day in there were several turtles of all sizes out enjoying a day in the sun in the marsh.

The water in the fishing pond must still be too cold though. The turtles who fight over the nightcrawlers that I offer the fish were not awake yet.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

They're Back....



Every fall when the Tree Swallows leave the marsh, the world becomes silent; a hole is left in nature. Around mid February I begin anxiously to watch the skies. But still their return is a month or two away.

Last week the joyous chatter of the Tree Swallows returned again to the marsh. They fly, swoop and chatter as they grab an early flying insect and choose a nesting box to raise a family. They will be here until they migrate south again in late August, early September.

Welcome back guys...so glad to see you...     

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Wildflowers---don't forget to look up...

Trees are blooming too; gigantic wildflowers.

Don't forget to look up or you'll miss the beauty.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April's Wild Umbrellas

Halfway through April, tiny umbrellas pop through the leaf litter covering the forest floor. These are Mayapples. They pop up like a folded umbrella and, as the sun warms them, they unfold their leaves like miniature umbrellas.
After the leaves unfold, all other wildflowers that may have thought of co-existing with the Mayapples will have to think again. The Mayapples will shade the ground with their leaves. Anything that does escape the shade created by the Mayapples will be forced to be taller than the ever expanding April umbrellas.  


   

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Coffee Creek Wildflowers

These tiny wildflowers are blanketing the forest floor at Coffee Creek today. So delicate, they spring up through last year's leaves.

I believe they are Anemone's, although the identifying the specific species is difficult.




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coffee Creek--Here Comes the Show

See the green along the banks of Coffee Creek?  It's the wildflower show just starting to bloom.

Before the trees get their leaves, the understory of the forest goes into bloom. Each morning is more green. Each morning a new flower begins to show its face.

In recent days the delicate pink of Cutleaf Toothwort has begun to bloom in the damp areas along the creek.









What a show!    

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chance of Goslings Soon

One of the most heart rending moments on my many hikes was when I walked up on a male Canadian Goose standing guard over the body of his dead life long female companion. He showed no fear of me and would not move away from the body.

He remained there for days, standing in silent tribute. True love.

The nesting boxes in the Marsh are full of quiet incubation. Females sit low as the time for hatching nears.

And males stand near by on watch.

Canadian Geese are considered nuisances in some areas of the U.S. I remember when there weren't many. I like to think of them as brown swans; they're just the brown versions from the same family.

I can't wait for the babies to be born.    

Monday, April 11, 2011

Frog Coming Out Party

Aaaah! Finally some warm weather. All us people were out enjoying the sun and so were the frogs in the marsh.








There were green frogs and leopard frogs and bull frogs. There was a frog chorus of spring peepers.


 It was a good day to be a frog. A good day to photo a frog.









Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nest Building

The first Redwinged Blackbirds returned to this part of Indiana towards the end of February. The birds return in waves and the earliest birds are the older, more experienced males. The early birds grab the best nesting sites and have the best chance of a mate when the females show up a week or two later.

Nests are sometimes built a couple of feet off the ground attached to the grasses and sedges of wetlands. This guy was hunting up some nesting material the day I spotted him at Coffee Creek.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Duck Collection

Coffee Creek has recently picked up a duck collection. Four ducks have stopped in for a look around. Only time will tell if they will stay.

There is a male and female Teal and a male and female Northern Shoveler (longer beaks) consorting on the pond; a perfect place to nest with abundant crustaceans to eat.

Amazingly these guys don't do what ducks do best; duck out when humans walk by.

Think they'll stay?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

A dramatic April sky was the offering of the Hoosier landscape this week. The sun was busting out of those clouds that had held it captive all day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Squirrel Hollow

There is nothing like a hollow tree if you're a squirrel in need of a winter home and this gal has some prime real estate.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Got One!

Sometimes it pays to get up early. This Blue Heron was fishing on this misty spring morning at Coffee Creek.

The pond up front is full of fish and the heron was taking her fill.   

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coffee Creek Sunrise

Perfect for a Monday Morning; a perfect Coffee Creek Sunrise. The morning was frosty but spring was in the air. The sound of migrating birds filled the park. Red Winged Blackbirds flashed red from the top of many trees.

Let's have a peaceful week.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bridge

A rickety bridge; one of my favorite spots at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fooling

The greening of Coffee Creek park has begun. Do you see it?











It's right here: the first wildflowers coming up through last year's leaves.
Happy April 1st.