Blog Banner

Naturalist Notebook

Reviews and journal entries inspired by nature in West Central Illinois.
Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles

Since moving to western Illinois, in close proximity to the Mississippi River, I have been amazed to witness the fantastic comeback of the Bald Eagle. Growing up in rural DuPage County and being an outdoor child, I had dreamed of one day seeing a Bald Eagle in the wild. At that time eagle populations were declining across the North American continent. Science eventually revealed the pri...

Read More >

Big River State Park

Big River State Park

On an unusually warm and sunny December day, I had the pleasure of accompanying a small group of local girl scouts on their outing to Big River State Park. The objective of the day was to learn about trees and identify at least 5 different trees on our hike. Big River State Park, along the Mississippi River, is primarily an old pine plantation, established for the demonstration...

Read More >

Fall Day

Fall Day

Fall arrived this year rather late. The warm temps continued past the official start of the season and our area remained very dry for a time. The beautiful colors that Sugar Maples typically display were missing. Now, moving into late fall, a different kind of beauty has taken the place of Sugar Maple leaf color. Oaks will sometimes hold their leaves all winter but before it get...

Read More >

Last Drink of Summer; A hummingbird feeding from orange jewelweed. Painting by Rose Moore, Knox County Master Naturalist

Jewelweed

About this time of year, a tiny flash of orange begins to appear along trails and paths through woodland borders and along meandering streams. This lovely little gem is Impatiens capensis also known as Orange Jewelweed, Spotted Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not. From its Latin name you can guess what familiar garden plants it is related to. Native to North America, it is certainly a familiar b...

Read More >

Blackthorn Hill

Blackthorn Hill Nature Preserve

On a beautiful Saturday morning in July, I had the pleasure of joining four other Master Naturalists for a walk along the trails at Blackthorn Hills Nature Preserve in Warren County. This park is a prime example of our region's Grand Prairie-Forest division. There are old timbered areas that open up to prairie as well as forested bottom land along the meandering waters of South Henders...

Read More >

Fireflies - by HBee

Fireflies

This season has been a rather extraordinary one for the glowing bugs. I am treated nightly to quite a show. It seems there is more this year than before. A good thing for a species that has seen numbers decline. The firefly is not actually a fly but a nocturnal member of the beetle family. In the order Coleoptera, the family name Lampyridae comes from the Greek lampesin or "to shine."...

Read More >

A Spring Walk

A Spring Walk

It is now approaching the end of May, and the trees have filled out, and the nests have been built and new life born this spring is emerging to explore the world. I will never tire of watching this story unfold year after year. In fact, it is why I choose to live in this part of the world where seasonal changes are more dramatic. There is joy in anticipating the changes to come from season to seas...

Read More >