Saturday 24 May 2014. Some Miles and a Taste of the Woods

This morning at 5:20 it was 54 degrees F, the sky clear but for some scattered wispy clouds. The waning moon was a thin crescent (But can you really call it that when it’s waning? Maybe “decrescent” would be more accurate) in the southeastern sky.

This morning’s velo would be a loop to the east and the north, particularly to the edges of Trelease and Brownfield woods.

Headed east on Washington Street but still didn’t get a good view of the sunrise until got to High Cross Road, and by then the disc had risen quite clear of the horizon.

A little before that made a really quick stop at Weaver Park and got a shot of young cup plants in front of the pond.

The yellow flowers are exotic wild parsnip: invasive but they do lend a little color.

Rode on east on Washington to Cottonwood Road and turned north, along a stretch that always seems to be so quiet. Thought it was for lack of birds, though today the quiet was punctuated by the occasional killdeer call. Also noticed a few smallish black- brown birds I guessed could be brown-headed cowbirds, a species that lays its eggs in the nest of other birds. Don’t have time to go into the anthropomorphic ideas (including adoption) that such a way of life brings to mind, but will mention they made little sound.

The fields on either side of Cottonwood were unplanted, or at least the plants hadn’t yet appeared. The field on the east side was rather full of trash, especially plastic bottles, which I remembered also being abundant there last year.

Near the intersection with US 150 could see a smallish bird of a somewhat rusty color up on a utility line. Thought it might be a bluebird and got a zoomed-in photo with the camera, as well as a video recording, which captured a “witchity-witchity” kind of song. Here is a sketch from one of the photos.

It turned out to be a common yellowthroat (the yellow throat of which was not easily visible from this angle), maybe not quite so flashy as a bluebird, but a handsome bird nonetheless.

Continuing north and crossing the Saline Ditch noticed another place with an overabundance of exotic honeysuckle.

Farther down, on the road between the Philipps Tract and Trelease woods was a group of deer that lingered long enough for me to zoom in on and photograph with the camera; see the sketch below.

Passing Trelease woods and looking into the dark middle of it made me think, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep….”

Knew the woodland Phlox would be past the peak of their bloom,

20140524-082504.jpg so was glad to see some still there as well as some wild geranium.

Rode to Oaks Road and turned west and then south on High Cross. On the edge of Brownfield Woods were clusters of smallish pale blue flowers with hairy stems, which turned out to be great water leaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum):

Saw an indigo bunting just inside the woods, which rested long enough for me to get out the camera, but then seemed to startle at the sound effects of turning it on, alas.

Noticed a tallish plant with golden-yellow composite flowers, which I looked up and found to be butterweed (Senecia glabellus), Was happy to finally identify this plant, which I distinctly remember growing along wooded streams back when I was a field biologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Stopped before going back over the I -74 bridge to check the old possum bones. For the first time in two years, plants were starting to grow up among them. Two weeks ago they were as exposed as they’d been the whole time and now, suddenly they were almost completely obscured, and likely would be the next time I’d see them.

Made me think of how nonlinear the processes of life can be: we easily get lulled into thinking things won’t change, then suddenly they do.

Was happy to log 15 miles for this trip.


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