After yesterday’s urban ride it was good to be heading toward Meadowbrook Park again; felt more like I was outdoors.
It was warmer today and more humid than yesterday but not uncomfortable, especially moving on a bike. The sky was cloudy but there was color in the eastern sky: pink, orange, purple. Headed directly for the Windsor/Vine bridge, but the abundant blackberries at the northwest corner of the park lured me to stop and photograph them and the rosinweed and Monarda against
- Morning prairie bouquet with blackberries, rosinweed, and Monarda
the sunrise. The blackberries were starting to go from red to black, and probably the birds already were enjoying them. At the bridge, bullfrogs were singing, in longer phrases and seemingly with more conviction than previously. They seemed to be having conversations. At one point, it sounded like two frogs started at once but then stopped abruptly, as if not wanting to further interrupt the other.
The railing on the bridge was wet with condensation. I rested my arms on the cool, wet railing and looked downstream, waiting to sight a beaver. Thought I could hear beaver-munching and see that moving pattern on the surface of the water that heralds its appearance. But for what seemed like a long time, could not see a beaver. Was starting to feel impatient. The water was moving like crazy, but it wasn’t getting closer. Then a smallish shape zipped across from left to right; thought it was a duckling, but then saw the beaver. Was the first shape a young beaver?!? The large beaver swam around and did a couple shallow surface dives but didn’t make its usual trip to the bridge. Then it went out of view.
On the upstream side of the bridge, got a quick glimpse of ducks, and then they hid again.
Proceeded around the park in a clockwise loop, opposite of my usual path. The compass plants were endlessly compelling-felt like I could have photographed them all day. Found more prairie clover-it’s more common than I thought, and so photogenic.
Heard the male red-winged blackbird that says “Mom” in the usual place, got a portrait of him atop the wonderful compass plants.
Was pleased to spot the royal catchfly and was proud of myself for resisting the urge to go out and get closeups of it. Was happy
to see after looking at the photos that there was at least one other plant I hadn’t noticed before.
After the clockwise loop, took a ride west in the open space of Windsor Road and stopped to make a very simple sketch just to show it wasn’t completely flat. Like last week, saw the group (it’s weird to use the term “murder,” even if it is correct) of crows, and of pigeons, in almost exactly the same places as last Sunday. Rode to First Street and over to Oak Street to check out where I
remember seeing prairie plants; there were some purple coneflowers and butterfly weed but didn’t see any particularly prairie-looking areas.
Visited the “new” (new since I worked there, about nineteen years ago) site of the Illinois Natural History/Geological surveys in
the research park. Took a close look at the statues of praying mantises on the east and west walls. They reminded me of another building with a giant praying mantis on it: the City Museum of St. Louis. Actually, the inside of the INHS also has a lot of beautiful displays and photographs, also a museum, along with its other functions.
Headed back home on a mostly very quiet Florida Avenue.