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Posts Tagged ‘slough’

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Singularly, or together, Tom and I often visit this slough; the Saganashkee. Four miles long, it is only about six feet at its deepest spot. There are several pull-offs from the boundary roads for cars and motorcycles to park, a boat launch for kayaks, and canoes On many half-way decent days, fishermen and women can be found on the shore. often young children in tow learning to fish.

Co-mingling along the Saganashkee’s shoreline, waterfowl, songbirds, and birds of prey seek shelter in the trees, take refuge among the cattails, and soar overhead looking for a meal  – or dancing their mating waltzes. Geese, egrets, herons, hawks  – even Sandhill cranes abound, along with their homo-sapien counterparts,who come equipped with cameras and binoculars . At the height of the migratory seasons, tripods and stilted legs are in equal fashion with long-legged Great Blue Herons.  It is an area known by birds and birders alike.

I turned into one of the pull-offs and parked the car, an eye to the sky. My friend Phyllis identified a Bald Eagle in the area and I was hoping to catch a glimpse, which I did. The eagle was soaring in the distance; a magnificent sight to behold.

Cell phone in hand (it counts my steps), I walked a short distance, surprised by a gathering of dozens of birds I did not recognize. At first, it looked like aIMG_6359 herd of black sheep. A few steps later, perhaps wild turkeys?  Closer still, I could tell they were smaller in size than the common geese that were sharing their mid-afternoon snacks.  Eventually, they sensed my presence.  Long-legged and flat-footed, the scurried into the slough, a few fly-skipping.

Were they ducks? Swan? Black Swans have been passing through the area in the past several years, but, they seemed too small.

I asked my Facebook friends if anyone knew what they were, and they commented with some interesting choices. I must tell you, it was really great fun. Guinea fowl, mud hens, mergansers – and several other birds were suggested. I clicked on all sorts of birding sites, hoping to identify this flock.

DSCN9944I even dragged Tom to the area, not once, but, twice, and have returned as recently as two days ago, where these birds are still around. I believe they are migrating north and have stopped for a while to rest, eat, possibly convene for a bird convention.  We estimated around 60 birds as they floated along the shore on Easter Sunday.

It was, in fact, on Easter Sunday that I was able to get close enough to capture enough features; beak, head, coloring, feet, flight.  Coots!

I wonder if they will still be around today?

Have you met a new or interesting bird lately?

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Blogospheric apiaries

I seem to be flitting about lately, like this ravenous swallowtail.

The days are shortening, faster than I would like. At the same time,  I find I am looking forward to Autumn. We’ve had a delightful spell of cooler temperatures, but, the heat and humidity are back. It won’t be long, though, before the rakes are employed in the gathering of leaves and someone will mutter  about  frost on the pumpkins.

A walk on Sunday in The Little Red Schoolhouse Woods seemed like just the thing to do. It had been quite a while since we strolled the White Oak Trail. It felt as if we were the only ones there. We weren’t, of course. Most of the woodland wanderers were off in the new nature center or on the bigger paths that surround the slough.

In a few weeks, the White Oak Trail will be covered in leaves. On this day, the trail had but a few signs of the fall weather ahead. It was quiet and green with a few red berries peaking through and felt as if this mile of forest was just sitting and waiting for the colorful gala ahead.

On the other trails, which we later wandered, were masses of children filled with all of the wonder of youth, looking for fish and turtles and frogs swimming about among the lily pads. Can you see the frog sunning here?  This pond is on one side of the trail and an apiary on the other.

We’ve watched the apiary for a few years now. The pear trees are finally bearing fruit and the bee hives fascinate me. As we read about beekeeping and how bees sometimes form their own hives in trees when the apiary boxes become full, what looked like a bunch of dried leaves slowly came alive. I wish that my camera could have gotten a closer look for me. I hope you can see on the tree what looks like a pile of leaves or a log. It  is really a massive beehive, swarming with busy workers.

Here on the Cutoff, we reside in a carved out delta of trees and wildlife that we were fortunate enough to find. A very urban area is just down the  road a ways, around the bend, with a magnificent glimpse of the far off Chicago skyline. The forests to be found are just a few turns the other way. Both seem like gifts to me.

The active hives of the apiary mean more to me than the honey they produce. They are a symbol of sorts of the lofty idea that such opposing ways of life can coexist. These sloughs and forests, carved out in a long-ago time by ice, remain places of refuge for migratory  birds and butterflies in their seasonal journeys. They rest and get nourishment just moments away from highways and byways and one of my country’s largest cities, while minutes away I reside, a simple woman who sits and taps away on keys in a dot on the speck of a spot on our earth while you sit at your computer, in an office, or library, or from a laptop in a coffeehouse, a few miles away or in another hemisphere, and we somehow connect, forming our own blogospheric apiary.

We all make pretty sweet honey, don’t you agree?

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