Timid In honor of World Turtle Day, 2014. While walking around the yard, the boys discovered a small, Spiny Softshell turtle walking near the road, quite a distance from water. Realizing he was going to get run over or eaten by a preditor, we carried him safely in the direction he was heading, to the lake and released him. Three of them could fit in the palm of a 10 year old's hand. A few more images of turtles here from the past few years: Baby Turtle turtlesunning Turtle Neck Happy World Turtle Day.


CallingThe call of large groups of frogs is one of the first real signs of Spring around this part of Illinois.  Usually, as I walk by ponds and streams, the shy frogs quiet down, and hide, but this time, I decided to wait a bit for them to get used to me. After a few minutes, the frogs came out of hiding, and a bit later, one began to call for a mate. I could tell he was up to something, since he was sitting more upright than usual.

If you look closely where the water meets the body of the frog, you'll see ripples in the water. These were caused by the vibration of the frog as he called.  His vocal sac is displayed and in use - he wasn't bothered too much by my camera, and continued his search for a mate.  Most of the other frogs in the small pond in Illinois Canyon already had mates, and were paired up in the water, oblivious to me.



 Each Spring, I visit some of the wetlands of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in search of plants and animals. Of particular interest are ferns; more specifically, fiddleheads. Before the fern fronds appear, they develop in a circular roll, and slowly unroll to form a frond. These rolled up fronds are called fiddleheads, and look similar to their namesake, although I assume, the end of a violin was patterned after the fern.
  Rolled Up

 No two are exactly the same, and they don't stay rolled up for very long. What amazes me is that each of the tiny leaves of the fern is an almost exact match to the unrolled fern frond. So, the fern is comprised of fronds that are comprised of fronds. Look closely and you'll see what I mean. A sure sign that winter is over.

Cutting Through the Dunes

Cutting Through the Dunes Kintzele Ditch meanders through the sand dunes, on its way to Lake Michigan. The mouth of the stream is ever changing, shaped by the wind and waves, sometimes hundreds of feet up or down the shore. Out of respect for the environment, we've never managed to walk very far along this stream, and don't want to walk through it. Perhaps in a kayak one day. The short distances we are able to walk, yeild a variety of wildlife from Great Blue Heron to beaver, butterflies to ticks, as well as some interesting plantlife. This area is only a 20 minute walk from the nearest parking lots, yet it seems so remote and distant from everyday life.

Canyon Falls

Canyon Falls Our Spring hike through Illinois Canyon's bluebell-filled flats, required us to cross the creek three times. As the weather was relatively dry up to this point, crossing was fairly easy - using rocks and a few downed tree limbs as bridges, we made it to the head of the canyon, or at least as far as hiker's are allowed to venture. The waterfall here is very short, only a few feet tall, but quite dramatic with the winding, moss covered canyon walls. The mystery of what lies beyond this point, and the source of the creek still interest me. Perhaps in warmer weather, I'll wade through the pond to see what lies beyond.

Spring Canyon

Spring Canyon Winter has finally lost her grip on the Midwest. We spent a warm, sunny afternoon at Illinois' Starved Rock State Park soaking in the sunshine and scenery. Following the long, brutal winter, nature is waking up; leaves, flowers, animals, and insects are once again commonplace on our hike. As we meandered through canyons and streams, we found several waterfalls that were still flowing from recent rains. The sounds of birds and frogs provided the soundtrack to our hike; they too were happy with the warm weather.