It was 71 degrees F, partly cloudy, the clouds in long, slightly tilted horizontal lines,
wind NE 6 mph at about 8:20 am. Having seen the royal catchfly in bloom on south “First Street” and behind the Natural Resources Building,
knew it was time to seek the regal plant in the Spomer Prairie
of Meadowbrook Park, and rode south on Race Street to that destination. Tried not to take pictures of other sights, but succumbed to the large number of robins on the lawn between the pavilion and the entrance to the prairie.
Also checked the water level at the wooden bridge over McCullough Creek: some still flowed over the black cherry root that traverses the stream.
Baptisia, mostly with green pods,
yellow coneflower, rattlesnake master,
and ironweed in bud.
Several male red-winged blackbirds scuffled over a piece of prairie territory.
And, in the usual place, were the flaming red stars of royal catchfly!
There were not many, but I think they were just getting started!
It was 61 degrees F, clear, wind NE 6 mph at 5:20 am as I rode south to Windsor Road and then west,
with a destination of Porter Park and maybe parts farther west. Stopped at the neglected City of Champaign Prairie Restoration,
where the occasional native plant (Baptisia, rattlesnake master, yellow coneflower,
and also the amazing lead plant, past bloom but with healthy foliage)
held forth among the exotic invasives.
Saw a bunch of geese near the pond of The Ponds of Windsor. Not a huge number but plenty.
West of Staley Road, where there was no bike lane, took the back way through subdivisions. Not much for scenery but safer than riding for that stretch on Windsor, though even there the Sunday morning traffic was not bad.
Porter Park was abloom with yellow coneflower, tick trefoil,
nice patches of healthy purple coneflower,
and other less common species: Culver’s root,
and even compass plant. There were common milkweed with both blooms and pods.
In the pond were lots of water lily pads, maybe two species, and a few closed buds.
Along the shore near the fishing pier were vervain and swamp milkweed.
Purple martin houses put up by the Park District (I wonder what they use in the wild) were busy with twittering residents.
The park is close to residential subdivisions and gets crowded with people enjoying the trails through the park, but on this Sunday morning it was beautifully quiet.
Found a nest (robin?) on a low branch.
Then headed west on Windsor, through the green corn (some starting to tassel)
and beans to 200 E (signs were missing) then north to Seymour. Stopped to see the post office
and look into the window of an antique shop.
On the way back, crossing Copper Slough near Porter Park, saw a family of ducks, which were surprisingly unafraid to advance in my direction.
They looked really small (wood ducks?). Farther west (downstream) saw a great blue heron wading—too far away to get a good picture.
Had a little headwind one the way back but nothing too strenuous.
Saw several road kill on Windsor. Didn’t stop for the possum (pretty sure) that was mostly skeleton but did for a flat, dry one that still had skin and fur.
They’re less ghastly when dry, I think. None of the road kill I saw smelled especially bad (at the distance and speed from which I viewed them).
Stopped at Pandamonium for a latté to sit and sip and two doughnuts to take home.
It was about 80 degrees F, partly cloudy, wind NE 14 mph at about 9:15 am. The wind was at my back! Did not take many pictures on the way to work in Savoy (technically Champaign), but on the way back kept riding south (stopping to see a pond with ducks and pink lotus and pale yellow water lilies)
until I reached the prairie planting to look especially for royal catchfly! A variety of prairie plants were in bloom (or fruit/seed),
but they were mostly less abundant than the exotic weeds.
But was very happy to see the royal catchfly,
at the fresh beginning of its bloom!
Heading home, the wind came toward me from north and east but didn’t slow me down too much. On Airport Road saw that the corn and beans responded well to the recent rain.
Saw the first silky ears and tassels of some corn.
There was a lot of common milkweed, some with developing pods and others with full blooms and even green buds.
Stopped for a look down into the upper Embarras River.
At Old Church and Race passed the facility that smells strongly of animals, but no animals were visible. At all. The sign out front referred to cattle and sheep.
For some reason it bothers me that I can smell the cows, and maybe sheep, but have no visual evidence of their existence.
It was 74 degrees F, cloudy, wind S (8? Not recorded, alas) mph at 5:20 am. Thunderstorms were predicted “in 48 minutes” from the time I was contemplating departure so decided to go for a very quick ride to Meadowbrook Park; there certainly would be no swimming in the outdoor pool this morning. Rode south on Vine Street,
a more direct route to the Freyfogel prairie viewing station. Determined to get a few photos and leave. Of course, as the summer bloom was approaching its summit, it was hard not to linger.
Blooms of yellow coneflower, punctuated with slightly darker-yellow false sunflower, were abundant and widespread; Monarda made contrasting purple-pink strokes in the landscape.
Baptisia alba were widespread in bloom
and also already bore lots of green pods. Also abundantly blooming was rattlesnake master.
Compass plant stood solid and tall, with hairy, flat, finger-like leaves, topped with golden face-like blooms.
Smoother congener rosinweed had smaller but similar flowers
and those evenly arranged, alternating stacks of pointed scoop-shaped leaves. Purple coneflower were present
but somewhat less numerous than I remembered from previous years. Saw Culver’s root
and not-quite-ripe blackberries were striking pops of red.
Looked out briefly from the prairie viewing station for royal catchfly. Didn’t see any, but didn’t mean it wasn’t there. Heard thunder rumble and turned back rather than making the whole loop, but stopped at the particularly full and varied colllection of flowers along Windsor Road near Clark-Lindsey Village.
The thunder rumbles were coming closer together (like labor pains) so headed with due haste back home. Saw a hint of rainbow among the clouds on my way back.
Made paper prairie flowers (purple and yellow coneflowers, common milkweed, and blazing star)
to decorate my bike
and joined the contingent from Champaign County Bikes in the Champaign-Urbana Fourth of July Parade!!
It was hot, though not as bad as it could have been, and a little challenging to keep moving on the bike, in circles, while the parade made its stops.
But it was worth it just to see the sheer variety of people lining the streets and to wave to every single one I could make eye contact with. Plus, I was proud to help raise awareness of cycling in our community!
It was 65 degrees F, clear, wind NE 4 mph at 6:45 am. Rode to Crystal Lake Park, on the way stopping to see a portable stage
across the train tracks from the Silvercreek parking lot. Apparently there is a music festival in town this weekend. Restrained my urge to photograph until I got to the little prairie planting in front of Lincoln Bindery.
Was glad to have been there to see all the purple
and white prairie clover,
as well as the other prairie plants.
Took one photo (with, alas, a dead oak tree;
there still are some live ones but didn’t catch them) before going down the Busey Woods hill. Whee! Stopped for some flower-watching along Crystal Lake Park, especially yellow coneflower,
blooming cup plant,
the first Gaura of the season,
and the huge, upright leaves and emerging flower stalk of prairie dock.
Rode through Crystal Lake Park and saw a groundhog (saw one earlier but it was too fast) that stopped long enough for me to photograph,
It was 73 degrees F, mostly clear, wind SW 7 mph at 5:12 am. Forwent my usual Friday morning swim to get an early start on today’s destination: Homer Lake. I don’t think I got to Homer Lake (by bike) at all last summer.
First did a loop of Meadowbrook Park,
stopping for a few photos of the mostly still-subdued bloom,
and also saw a doe with a little fawn, not very concerned as I passed them.
Then headed back north on Race Street to Washington. Intended to ride Washington to Cottonwood, but got startled out of my original plan by the deep, sudden bark of a big dog, entirely too close to me, from behind, so turned north on Lierman and continued east on Main Street. Saw a gaggle (not sure how many that is supposed to be) of geese in front of the ILEAS offices. Looked like this year’s goslings were about grown up.
Noticed that the field across Main Street did not seem to be planted this year. Stopped at Weaver Park, where the bloom was pretty colorful: false sunflower,
mountain mint, Culver’s root, butterfly milkweed, black-eyed Susan were in bloom,
as was cup plant,
and the first Monarda.
All along the KRT, saw lots of cottontail rabbits. and lots of little ones, at that.
the poison hemlock and wild parsnip had pretty much gone to seed, Canada thistle was conspicuously full of fluffy seed heads.
The rising sun cast a golden light over the landscape.
Soapwort, exotic, but a nice pink touch to the trailside, were freshly blooming.
Noticed circles mounted on square wooden posts, every half mile or so, along the trail.
Presumably they will be some kind of marking of distance on the trail; hoped desperately that they would not contain references to the sandwich business named at the Salt Fork bridge. East of Fulls Siding there were numerous, though not exactly extensive, patches of Monarda in bloom.
At the Salt Fork bridge, could see several large fish in the water.
Continued into St. Joe and had an egg, spinach, and cheese wrap and latté at Geschenk Coffee Haus, sitting outside.
Then made my way to 5th, Peters, and Wiltshire to Homer Lake Road and Homer Lake!
The bloom was subdued at the edge of Homer Lake just west of the park entrance, but did catch some native flowers. And heard the squawk of a great blue heron.
Turned back on Homer Lake Road and stopped at the Lincoln historical marker with its little prairie planting, today featuring yellow coneflower and common and butterfly milkweed. and decided to catch Windsor Road to go east, so I could stop at Country Arbors plant nursery.
On the way crossed the tributary of the Salt Fork when I frequently have seen wood ducks, and there they were.
Wonder if they are managed by humans or if it’s just a great place for wood ducks.
Saw a flattened, dry snake. Alas.
Remembered why I seldom take Windsor back from Homer Lake: it’s hot and straight
and uphill a lot going west (or is it the wind?), and carries a fair amount of traffic. Stopped at Country Arbors,
which had some nice plants.
It was a lovely 20-some mile ride, but by the time I got back to town, was pretty ready to rest.
It was 67 degrees F, mostly sunny, wind S (but didn’t record the velocity). Another glorious morning, and though there wasn’t time for a proper ride, wanted not to miss the progression of the summer prairie bloom.