Friday 15 July 2022. Sunrise Pre-Swim Ride around Blooming Meadowbrook

It was 67 degrees F, partly cloudy, wind E 3 mph at 5:30 am. The sunrise featured some nice color and shapely clouds!

And the summer prairie bloom.

Yellow coneflower

Was at its pink and yellow

Yellow coneflower, rosinweed, and ironweed

peak!

Monarda, yellow coneflower, and purple coneflower

Caught (with the iPhone camera) a male and a female red-winged blackbird.

Then riding north to Crystal lake pool got a shot of the lovely sunflowers (love and strength to Ukraine!)

in a container in downtown Urbana.

Thursday 14 July 2020. Morning Quest for Meadowbrook Royal Catchfly

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.

Saw Monarda,

compass plant,

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!

Sunday 10 July 2022. To Porter Park and Seymour

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,

compass plant,

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,

Monarda,

cup plant,

nice patches of healthy purple coneflower,

and other less common species: Culver’s root,

mountain mint,

rattlesnake master,

false sunflower,

rosinweed,

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)

Lots of birds (not sure which) on a wire

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.

Saturday 9 July 2022. To Work via Old Church and South First, with Royal Catchfly Stop

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),

Cup plant surrounded by exotics
A few yellow coneflower and a lot of exotics
Pods of blue wild indigo
Monarda among exotics

but they were mostly less abundant than the exotic weeds.

But was very happy to see the royal catchfly,

Even among the weeds, royal catchfly blooms blaze gloriously

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.

Apart from that it was a good 15(?) mile ride.

Friday 8 July 2022. Dare to Beat the Thunderstorm at Meadowbrook

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,

The ash with the bifurcated trunk near Vine Street tree at Blair Park is still alive!

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.

Fortunately, I made it back home, dry and safe.

Thursday 7 July 2022. Bloom Update at the Florida and Orchard Prairielet

It was 77 degrees F, partly sunny, wind E 9 mph at about 8 am. Just wanted to check on the summer bloom at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard. It’s starting to get colorful!

Rosinweed
Common milkweed, blooms about finished, and Japanese beetles on flowers
Black-eyed Susans
Tick trefoil, Monarda, and rosinweed
Rosinweed
Monarda, yellow coneflower, and false sunflower
Culver’s root
Rattlesnake master
Wild quinine
Purple prairie clover
Purple coneflower
Ironweed
Vervain
Marked edge of the little prairie

Monday 4 July 2022.

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!

Sunday 3 July 2022. Morning Ride to the Lincoln Bindery Prairie Planting

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.

Compass plant and false sunflower

Was glad to have been there to see all the purple

and white prairie clover,

as well as the other prairie plants.

Baptisia alba, flowers and pods
Bush clover
Lots of purple prairie clover
Yellow coneflower
Wild quinine


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,

mountain mint,

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,

before heading homeward.

Friday 1 July 2022. Vélo to Meadowbrook, St. Joe, and Homer Lake

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,

McCullough Creek, pooled at the rabbit-statue bridge

stopping for a few photos of the mostly still-subdued bloom,

Compass plant
Lead plant
Budding purple prairie clover

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,

yellow coneflower,

Baptisia alba,

mountain mint, Culver’s root, butterfly milkweed, black-eyed Susan were in bloom,

as was cup plant,

common milkweed,

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.

Tuesday 28 June 2022. Bloom Check at the Florida and Orchard Prairielet

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.

Blackeyed Susan, with poison hemlock behind and between them an unidentified white flower
Newly blooming yellow coneflower
Common milkweed
Moth mullein. Exotic but not unattractive.
Honeybee working a rosinweed flower
False sunflower
Budding Culver’s root
Cinquefoil
Rattlesnake master
Wild quinine
Purple coneflower
Purple prairie clover, about to bloom
Sylphium, with large, upright leaves (like prairie dock), but with “laciniate” edges, like compass plant—a hybrid?
Newly blooming ironweed
Pokeweed. Invasive but native.
Some kind of bunch grass in the middle of the path. Prairie dropseed? Cup plant farther back
Newly blooming Monarda
Joe Pye weed, I think
Mountain mint foliage with late spiderwort