Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Enjoying the Day

This leopard frog is basking in the sun near the Kankakee River where there are copious quantities of frogs of various sizes this year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bees and Milkweed

Milkweed is in bloom and an exceptionally good crop of it is sprouting this year and the bees  and other insects are enjoying it. Hopefully we'll see an exceptional year for Monarch butterflies.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reflections at Sunset on Cowles Bog

The weather finally cleared long enough for an evening walk. The birds were settling down for the evening, satisfied and full and talking to each other. And clouds lining the horizon dropped down into the bog.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Watch Out for those Needles

This plant tries to protect itself with a row of tiny needles. But the needles don't protect it from being eaten by insects as most of the leaf is gone---eaten all the way up to the security measure.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Swaling Sunset

I look at the swaling sunset
And wish I could go also
Through the red doors beyond the black-purple bar.

I wish that I could go
Through the red doors where I could put off
My shame like shoes in the porch,
My pain like garments,
And leave my flesh discarded lying
Like luggage of some departed traveller
Gone one knows not where.

Then I would turn round,
And seeing my cast-off body lying like lumber,
I would laugh with joy.

In Shame and Trouble
D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Bells of a Summer Sunset

The tiny flowers of Solomon's Seal glow in the summer sunset. You'll need to look from ground level to see this view. The flowers hang under elongated leaves. The plant grows in the forest's shade from a rhizome that is said to be good to eat. According to my Audubon field guide, when the stalk of the plant is broken from the rhizome the scar that is left behind looks much like King Solomon's seal, thus the name. Don't figure....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rose Bed for the Night

Two insects snuggle in for the night on a a wild rose. I imagine that in the morning they'll pay for the room by pollinating the rose with another. Flowers make great cover for all sorts of insects.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mud Puddles

How many tadpoles can you see in this picture? Hundreds of tiny tads have been born thanks to this year's rains. These are growing up in a group of mud puddles on a service road at the Indiana Dunes. This picture was taken on June 9th.

By June 11th, the tiny tads had sprouted legs and lost tails. There's another round of tads of all sizes at various stages of development growing in the puddles. We've had heavy rains here, so this year the puddles won't be drying up any time soon, giving the tiny tads a bit longer to mature.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Moon over the Bog

Saturday evening was truly magical with the moon hanging big in the sky. With the smell of the earth cooling from the heat of the day and the sounds of the birds, full and happy, settling down for the night; a midsummer's evening is life at its very best.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On the Longest Day of the Year---Summer ebbs...

Let us quit the leafy arbour,
And the torrent murmuring by;
For the sun is in his harbour,
Weary of the open sky.

Evening now unbinds the fetters
Fashioned by the glowing light;
All that breathe are thankful debtors
To the harbinger of night.

Yet by some grave thoughts attended
Eve renews her calm career:
For the day that now is ended,
Is the longest of the year.

Dora! sport, as now thou sportest,
On this platform, light and free;
Take thy bliss, while longest, shortest,
Are indifferent to thee!

Who would check the happy feeling
That inspires the linnet's song?
Who would stop the swallow, wheeling
On her pinions swift and strong?

Yet at this impressive season,
Words which tenderness can speak
From the truths of homely reason,
Might exalt the loveliest cheek;

And, while shades to shades succeeding
Steal the landscape from the sight,
I would urge this moral pleading,
Last forerunner of "Good night!"

SUMMER ebbs;--each day that follows
Is a reflux from on high,
Tending to the darksome hollows
Where the frosts of winter lie.

He who governs the creation,
In his providence, assigned
Such a gradual declination
To the life of human kind.

Yet we mark it not;--fruits redden,
Fresh flowers blow, as flowers have blown,
And the heart is loth to deaden
Hopes that she so long hath known.

Be thou wiser, youthful Maiden!
And when thy decline shall come,
Let not flowers, or boughs fruit-laden,
Hide the knowledge of thy doom.

Now, even now, ere wrapped in slumber,
Fix thine eyes upon the sea
That absorbs time, space, and number;
Look thou to Eternity!

Follow thou the flowing river
On whose breast are thither borne
All deceived, and each deceiver,
Through the gates of night and morn;

Through the year's successive portals;
Through the bounds which many a star 
Marks, not mindless of frail mortals
When his light returns from far.

Thus when thou with Time hast travelled
Toward the mighty gulf of things,
And the mazy stream unravelled
With thy best imaginings;

Think, if thou on beauty leanest,
Think how pitiful that stay,
Did not virtue give the meanest
Charms superior to decay.

Duty, like a strict preceptor,
Sometimes frowns, or seems to frown;
Choose her thistle for thy sceptre,
While youth's roses are thy crown.

Grasp it,--if thou shrink and tremble,
Fairest damsel of the green,
Thou wilt lack the only symbol
That proclaims a genuine queen;

And ensures those palms of honour
Which selected spirits wear,
Bending low before the Donor,
Lord of heaven's unchanging year!

William Wordsworth--- The Longest Day
 Addressed to my daughter 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hey that's My Perch!

Some dragonflies have favorite perches, and  this 12 Spot Skimmer favored this one. When I got too close he would fly directly in front of my face and hover there for a couple of seconds like he was trying to chase me away.

Either that or he was waiting for me to kick up some supper...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On the Boardwalk

On the boardwalk (off limits to all but park staff) that goes to the middle of Cowles Bog a Killdeer sits panting and exhibiting nesting behavior, although there's no sign of a nest.

And a few feet further into the bog another killdeer actively builds a monument:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sandhill at Cowles Bog

Rarely seen in this part of Indiana in the summer, a Sandhill Crane is hanging out in Cowles Bog. Hopefully it is raising young.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Uncooperative Lunch

This turtle looks positively grumpy. Maybe it's because his lunch is walking on his shell just out of reach.

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Sighting

This is my first sighting of a skink in Indiana. It was incredibly fast and most of my photos were blurs of stripes that ran through the grass along side the trail.

He was generous, though, and stopped in the middle of the trail for a photo op and then turned into a blur again in the grass on the opposite side of the trail. This was the second skink that I spotted. The other didn't give me a chance. It had a brilliantly bluer body and went into hiding as soon as it spotted me.    

Saturday, June 15, 2013

She Soon Will Forget

So shuts the marigold her leaves
At the departure of the sun;
So from the honeysuckle sheaves
The bee goes when the day is done;
So sits the turtle when she is but one,
And so all woe, as I since she is gone.

To some few birds kind Nature hath
Made all the summer as one day:
Which once enjoy'd, cold winter's wrath
As night they sleeping pass away.
Those happy creatures are, that know not yet
The pain to be deprived or to forget.

I oft have heard men say there be
Some that with confidence profess
The helpful Art of Memory:
But could they teach Forgetfulness,
I'd learn; and try what further art could do
To make me love her and forget her too.

Memory by William Browne

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sunset Over the Bog

So perfect was the June evening as the sunset dripped into the bog, one could even forgive the mosquitoes their dinner.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Smelling the Flowers

Beautiful pollinators come in all shapes and sizes. A couple of these were exploring the flowers dragging pollen with them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ready for mosquito

This Ebony Jewelwing is perched, waiting along side the trail, hoping that I'll kick up an insect meal as I go by.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blue Flag

The summer comes with a march of the Blue Flags along the water's edge.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wee One

It's a banner year for turtles---the trails are lined with nests that have hatched as evidenced by the remnants of eggs left behind.

Here's one tiny turtle, newly hatched, that I discovered sunning himself in the middle of one trail. No bigger than a half dollar, he didn't have the fear that older turtles have. I moved him to another area---the park service uses the trail as a road and I was worried that he would be hit.    

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Spiderwort--expected everywhere

An altered look about the hills;
A Tyrian light the village fills;
A wider sunrise in the dawn;
A deeper twilight on the lawn;
A print of a vermilion foot;
A purple finger on the slope;
A flippant fly upon the pane;
A spider at his trade again;
An added strut in chanticleer;
A flower expected everywhere;
An axe shrill singing in the woods;
Fern-odors on untravelled roads,
All this, and more I cannot tell,
A furtive look you know as well,
And Nicodemus’ mystery
Receives its annual reply.

Emily Dickinson --- Nature

Friday, June 7, 2013

June Sunshine in the Shade of the Morning

A Goatsbeard, fresh and perfect in bloom, awaits the early June day to burst into full splendor.  This wildflower gets its name from the way it goes to seed, much like a dandelion only much better.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's all in the Family

This year there are two families of geese raising goslings at the local park. This family has two babies, one of which is a bit bossy.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

He's Looking My Way

This dragonfly is a Blue-eyed Darner. It sports an extra long, narrow tail in comparison to other dragonflies. Darners, in Northwest Indiana, are not really all that common in comparison to meadow and pond hawks. So, it was a real surprise when he swooped down to a weed to take a closer look at me.    

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trying to Blend in

This moth, and/or others like it, hang around the blooming bushes---blackberries, raspberries, etc. napping in the mornings trying to blend into the white blossoms. When disturbed they barely awake and are quite content to hang onto a finger as long as you're not too rough.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Glowing in the Shade

A wild geranium glows in the shade of the mid spring forest shade. According to Wiki wild geranium is good for a number of things including toothaches, hemorrhoids, and as an agent to stop bleeding.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Something's Cooking

The woods smell like a gourmet restaurant when the wild garlic start to bloom.

Friday, May 31, 2013

In the Summer It's All Good

Sitting amidst  a daisy's pollen, this insect looks suspiciously like a bee, however, it also appears to have only two wings which would make it a fly. Bees sport four wings.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life's Summer Mood

In summer, when the days were long,
We walk’d, two friends, in field and wood;
Our heart was light, our step was strong,
And life lay round us, fair as good,
In summer, when the days were long.

We stray’d from morn till evening came,
We gather’d flowers, and wove us crowns;
We walk’d mid poppies red as flame,
Or sat upon the yellow downs,
And always wish’d our life the same.

In summer, when the days were long,
We leap’d the hedgerow, cross’d the brook;
And still her voice flow’d forth in song,
Or else she read some graceful book,
In summer, when the days were long.

And then we sat beneath the trees,
With shadows lessening in the noon;
And in the sunlight and the breeze
We revell’d, many a glorious June,
While larks were singing o’er the leas.

In summer, when the days were long,
We pluck’d wild strawberries, ripe and red,
Or feasted, with no grace but song,
On golden nectar, snow-white bread,
In summer, when the days were long.

We lov’d, and yet we knew it not,
For loving seem’d like breathing then;
We found a heaven in every spot;
Saw angels, too, in all good men,
And dream’d of gods in grove and grot.

In summer, when the days are long,
Alone I wander, muse alone;
I see her not, but that old song
Under the fragrant wind is blown,
In summer, when the days are long.

Alone I wander in the wood,
But one fair spirit hears my sighs;
And half I see the crimson hood,
The radiant hair, the calm glad eyes,
That charm’d me in life’s summer mood. 

In summer, when the days are long,
I love her as I lov’d of old;
My heart is light, my step is strong,
For love brings back those hours of gold,
In summer, when the days are long.

Summer Days by Wathen Marks Wilks Call 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Torn and Tattered

This butterfly was having difficulty flying and, on further inspection, its wings were quite damaged.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


In spite of the recent tree chopping to save the bog at the Indiana Dunes the tiny frogs are doing well and taking over the puddles in holes left behind by the heavy machinery.

Here are a few of hundreds of tadpoles that are easy to miss unless you know beforehand that they are there. No bigger than a hulled sunflower seed, these tadpoles are in a race with time. Will the puddle dry up before they mature? Or will the recent rains save them? Only time will tell.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Dared to Be Different

 Nearly all of these wildflowers are a plain violet. But once in a great while there appears suddenly one that is stripped. Whether through some genetic anomaly or, more likely, a stressor the variety is quite beautiful.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It was a windy day and the Wild Columbine was difficult to capture close up as they swung their heads widely in the wind. But in this quiet place between two dunes this specimen was nodding off in the sun silently showing off it's festive hat shaped bloom.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Lazily She Lingered Cradling a Dream"

In the sleepy forest where the bluebells
Smouldered dimly through the night,
Dermuid saw the leaves like glad green waters
At daybreak flowing into light,
And exultant from his love upspringing
Strode with the sun upon the height.

Glittering on the hilltops
He saw the sunlit rain
Drift as around the spindle
A silver-threaded skein,
And the brown mist whitely breaking
Where arrowy torrents reached the plain.

A maddened moon
Leapt in his heart and whirled the crimson tide
Of his blood until it sang aloud of battle
Where the querns of dark death grind,
Till it sang and scorned in pride
Love—the froth-pale blossom of the boglands
That flutters on the waves of the wandering wind.

Flower-quiet in the rush-strewn sheiling
At the dawntime Grainne lay,
While beneath the birch-topped roof the sunlight
Groped upon its way
And stooped above her sleeping white body
With a wasp-yellow ray.

The hot breath of the day awoke her,
And wearied of its heat
She wandered out by the noisy elms
On the cool mossy peat,
Where the shadowed leaves like pecking linnets
Nodded around her feet.

She leaned and saw in the pale-grey waters,
By twisted hazel boughs,
Her lips like heavy drooping poppies
In a rich redness drowse,
Then swallow—lightly touched the ripples
Until her wet lips were
Burning as ripened rowan berries
Through the white winter air.

Lazily she lingered
Gazing so,
As the slender osiers
Where the waters flow,
As green twings of sally
Swaying to and fro.

Sleepy moths fluttered
In her dark eyes,
And her lips grew quieter
Than lullabies.
Swaying with the reedgrass
Over the stream
Lazily she lingered
Cradling a dream.

The Awakening of Dermuid by  Austin Clarke

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lupine and Butterflies

One of my favorite times at the Indiana Dunes is right now---the sand dunes are covered with wildflowers. And when the Lupines bloom the woods glow with the lilac colored flowers. I love the whirling green leaves of this plant that is the host plant of the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly.

The Karner Blue, a rather picky sort, relies on several continuous Lupine tracks for its existence that occurs basically around the Great Lakes Area.

Even without considering the endangered butterfly, though, the Lupine bloom is a silent firework display of beauty and color that happens every year and is happening in the Dunes woods right now. Take a minute to admire a closeup of the beauty:


Monday, May 20, 2013

Fast Snake

This snake was fast and not a bit intent on hiding. It raced around a 10 foot square of ground like it had lost something and was frantically looking for it. Perhaps I had disturbed a meal. I think it's an Eastern Rat Snake, which would make it hungry for some small mammal or perhaps a bird.

It was not in the least bit scared of me and would race towards me and then back off. They're not to be feared, although at over 5 feet long, I kept my distance.    

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blooms and Blue

Nothing beats a bunch of spring blossoms against a brilliant blue spring sky, don't you think?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013


A trillium with 4, not 3, petals; it also sports extra stamens, making it quite the mutant. It is equally as beautiful though.