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Naturalist Notebook

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

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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...

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Blackthorn Hill

A Walk Around 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...

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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."...

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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...

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Earth Day

Today, on this Earth Day, I planted a forest. One Hundred and Eighty tree seedlings is a tiny bit of what it is going to take to re-forest these acres, but it's a start. The land I live on was once a forested along Henderson Creek on rolling terrain with breaks where prairie appeared, and bottom lands were rich in a diversity of plants. This is the western edge of The Grand Prairie Divi...

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Sugar Maple

Sugar'n Tyme

Every year about this time, Argyle Lake State Park holds it's Maple Syrup Festival. I had the opportunity to attend the event about two weeks ago on a fine Saturday morning. The park has good stands of sugar maple trees(Acer saccharinum) well suited for tapping and collecting sap for boiling down for syrup or sugar. They have developed a great festival to display to the public how this old time...

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