Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hero

Here's a beetle that may be a hero to areas ravaged by invasives like Emerald Tree Borers that are destroying our forests.

This beetle, the Red Flat Bark Beetle(Cucujus clavipes), lays eggs in holes created by borers. Little Red's larva then eat the borers larva---a true hero!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Bouquet for May

The trees are offering up their own flowers for May in the form of beautiful bouquets.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pantaloons in the Park

Growing in the shade of the trees, in a dry, but rich soil is the spring wildflower, Dicentra cucullaria, better known as Dutchman's Breeches, because the shape of the flowers look like old time pantaloons.

According to the Wiki article on this wildflower, this plant is sowed by ants that are attracted to the seed and bury it in their hills. These flowers can be found blooming in Indiana woods now, a bit later than they were blooming last year, when they were blooming on March 26.    

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Jewel in the Shade

This pretty snake was heading for the shade after I walked up the path and disturbed it as it was enjoying the spring sun.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who's Smirking Now?

I love Woodchucks/Groundhogs. They line Indiana paths in the spring, sometimes with babies, and stand straight up looking as if they were expecting me and welcoming me to their world.

This year, though, Punxsutawney Phil lied and spring is yet to paint the trees green. So this relative of old Phil has no place to hide up in his tree. Is he planning to chuck some wood?

Poet and writer Robert Frost may have spread some light on the subject of woodchucks in his poem A Drumlin Woodchuck or was it us humans that Frost was writing about? The full poem and some thoughts on the subject can be found here.          

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Beast!

I heard a rustle in the tall grass along the wetland. This was a major rustle. What could it be? A deer laying low? A turkey? Maybe even a bunch of snakes awaking from a winter snooze?

This is what finally turned up---a major sized snapping turtle. As it eyed me from a distance, I waited for another rustle to make itself known. This one was smaller and ended up being a bird that headed directly for the snapper. Soon the snapper was eyeing the bird instead of me. I held my breath and for a minute it looked like snack time for the turtle. But at the last minute the bird awoke from its spring time jaunt and really took a look at that big rock in front of it and realized it for what it was and flew off.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Many of the These Trees Were My Friends

 Saving the Bog at Indiana Dunes comes at a price---thousands of trees that have been cut down. According to the experts the trees needed to be cut down because they sucked too much water out of the bog.

The bog is an ecosystem that is not found anywhere else. Rare plants are found here and no where else. The only thing is---bogs aren't made to last forever. This bog is following the progression of all other bogs before it---eventually it dries up and disappears, changing into woodland or meadow land. But after filling in much of our wetlands, we humans feel the need to protect the few remaining on public lands. So here is the dilemma---how to hold back nature's natural progression.


And in this case the experts say the trees must go. And so this spring thousands of trees have been chopped down. Trees that previously gave song birds a resting place on migration; where premium bird watching occurred in other springs are gone. Trees that gave wild life hiding places and shelter---deer, muskrat, beaver, and tiny frogs are gone. Trees won't shade this summer's hikes. They're all gone. Sacrificed for a good cause, but mourned nonetheless.

"Many of these trees were my friends" said Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings. We feel the same sorrow.

The Bog


Monday, April 22, 2013

Close Up of Spring

A closeup of a Spring Beauty, a spring wildflower no bigger than a thumbnail. Spring Beauty's have only just begun to bloom in the under story of the leafless spring woodlands.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Here a couple of young bucks, antlers to come just bumps on the top of the heads, pause to take a look at passerby's on a trail in Coffee Creek.

Friday, April 19, 2013

From the Bicycle Trail

The rails to trails program has left a wonderland of opportunities to view wildlife in urban areas. This was the far off view from one bike trail this past weekend when we were enjoying a bit of spring.

That bit of spring is gone today, however, and we've got a bit of winter white stuff back this morning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Spring Comes

The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale:
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray now springs:
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes flete with new repair├Ęd scale.
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.

And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.

Description of Spring by Henry Howard Earl of Surrey

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Puddles for All

It poured buckets over night and in the morning there were puddles for all---something that hadn't happened in ages.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Showers Flowers

Last night's showers are bringing up the Mayapple this morning. First a bud appears.

Then the plants umbrella unfolds under which a white flower will be shielded in May. The white flower will then transform into a fruit looking similar to an apple.

Monday, April 15, 2013


After a couple of days of warmer temperatures the forest floor is covered with wildflowers poking through last year's remaining leaves. This tiny flower appeared today to greet Monday morning.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In the Blue

Some days Lake Michigan can look nearly tropical with that beautiful blue reflected from a spring sky.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Secrets for the Summer

Skunk Cabbage seems like such an awful name for one of the first plants of the spring. Supposedly the plant smells of rotten meat, although I can't verify this theory as I've smelled several and never found one that smelled of anything other than fresh earthiness.

All winter long the Skunk Cabbage have waited in the bog for a moderately warm spring day so the secrets held within could be shone to the early spring sun. These plants will grab as much spring sun as they possibly can in the coming weeks before the summer's canopy of trees overhead shut out all that solar energy for the summer.      .

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Deer Herd

There were as many deer outside this picture as in---the ever growing herd of deer at Coffee Creek park. From the looks of it soon there will be babies.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Blue Sea, Sun, Grass

Have me in the blue and the sun.
Have me on the open sea and the mountains.

When I go into the grass of the sea floor, I will go alone.
This is where I came from—the chlorine and the salt are blood and bones.
It is here the nostrils rush the air to the lungs. It is here oxygen clamors to be let in.
And here in the root grass of the sea floor I will go alone.

Love goes far. Here love ends.
Have me in the blue and the sun.

Have Me by Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Where are the Fish?

Compared to the crabs, snails, and plants washing ashore on Ocean beaches the Lake Michigan shoreline can be pretty blank.

Except when it comes to invasive species. Most beach garbage washes ashore with Zebra Snails attached---an invasive species causing havoc to the ecosystem.

The small fish in the picture puzzled me the other day. After searching the available information on the Internet I think it may be a Goby Fish, another invasive species from the ballasts of  ships coming into the Great Lakes system. Relatively small, this tiny fish apparently packs a big environmental impact by taking over native habitat and eating the native's food. This one was dead on the shore and had a stab wound--- probably killed and dropped by one of the many shorebirds that were resting and feeding on the Lake Michigan shoreline.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Wildflowers of the Year

The first wildflower of the year is just poking its head up through last year's fallen leaves. What a different year this has been compared to last year's spring!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No Turf Wars Here

Ever notice how geese never worry about which goose goes first? No pushing. No shoving. Here they all face the same direction ready for a take off if I get too close. And the leader is already decided---predetermined by something unseen.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jealous Skies

Fields Of Gold 

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold
I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold

Lyrics to Fields of Gold by Sting

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


How many pairs of eyes can you find in this photo? A chorus of frogs sang but every time I searched for the chorus it would disappear. So I had to take a binocular view to spot the many eyes camouflaged and peering just above the waterline.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A tablespoon of Wetland

This is what a tablespoon of springtime wetland water looks like. A month or two ago it was clear. Now microscopic creatures have begun the cycle of life and nearly every speck in the picture will become an insect, snail, or other creature with aquatic beginnings. Most of the specs are midges---tiny insects that begin life in water. Some are the beginnings of this May's mayflies. There's also a very tiny snail to the left of center.

Most of these creatures will be the bottom of the food chain and will feed frogs, dragonflies, and birds. This is the beginning of life's cycle for the year---in a tablespoon of pond water in the wetland.    

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sandhills Overhead

Even though a group of hunters and dogs had taken over precious resting areas in the Indiana wetland, the Sandhill Cranes found another area not too far away. There were so many cranes over head this weekend that they were like stars---the more you looked at the sky the more cranes you could see---pure magic.