Sunday 24 June 2012. Crepuscular Animals and Surprising Plants.

After wanting for a while but not succeeding in getting on the road at the very first light of morning, I did it today. Of course  it wasn’t because of my resolve and determination but because I realized at 3:30 AM that I’d forgotten to water my friend’s thirsty container garden yesterday and couldn’t sleep. It’s a good thing I was up because I was able to chase away the raccoon that’s been raiding our trash can. After going over to check the plants, which, thankfully, were alive, headed out toward the Windsor/Vine bridge (this is a more precise designation than I’ve been using) at Meadowbrook Park. On Sundays I usually like to travel the otherwise busy streets of Champaign, but wondered what might be going on at Meadowbrook just a little earlier than usual.

On the way saw two small raccoons in the street. Thought there must be a bigger one nearby but didn’t see it. Was foolish enough to try to get a photo–too dark!  The two little raccoons squeezed into a storm drain.  It must be a hard life, that of the urban raccoon, the life of an outlaw.

Meadowbrook Park, along Windsor Road in early morning light, with sculpture

At the bridge, it was light enough to see movement in the water but not distinct shapes. The bullfrogs were singing away, lots of distinct voices, solos and choruses, coming from near and far. Then the beaver appeared, moving from downstream to upstream of the bridge and then out of sight. Didn’t try to get a photo, still too dark.

Made the big loop around Meadowbrook, trying not to take a whole bunch of pictures but not being able to resist the changing sky or the compass plants, but didn’t post them because there are already so many.   Stopped at the observaton platform to look for the royal catchfly; wasn’t sure I could see it in the still not very strong light. Will come back to follow its progress.

After Meadowbrook decided to see where Prospect and/or Mattis avenues went and headed west on Windsor. In a cut field (winter wheat, I think) were a whole lot of rock doves, pigeons, the kind of which you see in droves in downtown

Rock doves (pigeons) in a cut field.

Chicago, for example. Also, nearby was a murder (though don’t know how many it takes to make one of those) of crows.

A murder (?) of crows

Checked out the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration between First and Neil Streets. Among the plants in bloom were black-eyed Susans, Baptisia., and Yellow coneflowers.  There were some pre-blooming compass plants and prairie dock, but also a lot of exotics. There was water at the bottom of the slope away from the road with ducks, a non-great blue heron of some kind, frogs, and things that were not visible except as myseriously moving vegetation. Then, right at the base of the sign for the prairie restoration, I was amazed to see a large patch of purple prairie clover and even more amazed to see a whole bunch of lead plant, much more than there was at Meadowbrook!

Lead  plants

Something else for the guy who complains about the “Urbana Bozos” to rub in our faces, I guess.

Headed down toward Prospect and had a lovely ride until I saw this sign at Curris Road. What was beyond the sign looked like a

Sign at the end of Prospect Avenue, at Curtis Road

bike path, but the “no trespassing” kind of put me off, so headed down Curtis toward Mattis, past Carle Clinic and past some new houses, some with front porches.  At the end of Mattis Avenue was Willard Airport, which I might have known if I’d thought about it for a minute.

Rode east on Old Church to a sign pointing to the Savoy Recreation Center, which turned out to be Prospect Avenue, and very much a bike path, a nice one, at that. The kind of path a visiting friend or relative who otherwise doesn’t go in for bike riding

The Harold E. Ruppel Memorial Bike Path, a continuation of Prospect Avenue

could be induced to take.  At the end of it (Curtis Road, didn’t see it from the other side) was a little pond with ducks and red-winged blackbirds and planted around with some prairie plants. There were a lot of black-eyed Susans and TONS of what

Savoy pond with black-eyed Susans and lots of purple prairie clover

turned out to be purple prairie clover, something for which I had to search carefully at my beloved Meadowbrook. Guess   the prairie restorers planted it generously.  Still, it was a lovely surprise.

Continued north on the bike path now paralleling Prospect past a yard with a lot of tents and things from a recently concluded wedding reception and a garden that must have been on the garden walk, or could have been, it was so packed with flowers.  At the corner of Prospect and Windsor was this sign.  I think it meant, “please dismount to cross the street,” but it came off as a bit

Sign near the corner of Prospect Avenue and Windsor Road

bossy, like one couldn’t possibly carefully ride across the street.   I stopped for the red light though did not dismount (though at a time other than Sunday morning I might have done it),  just rode on Prospect, on the street, to Kirby and on home.

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