Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saganashkee Slough - 8.25.10 - Post 1

So it was another "Google Roulette" shoot. I Google my area and see if I can't find a place that looking interesting. This time I put in "Cook County" and got the website for the Cook County Forest Preserve. So I plunked around for a while and decided on Saganashkee Slough. Now, I'm not sure what the difference is between a slough and a pond, but basically, it was a big pond, maybe a small lake.

There isn't much online about this place. Including an address I can actually feed into my GPS. If you fish, there's some data, but otherwise not much.

The one site I did find was all "OMG ducks! 17 different kinds of ducks in one day!" Me? I didn't see one duck. Canadian Geese, sure (but I am so over them) and a couple of herons, and some gulls I need to Google, but not one duck.

Now, like I said, the directions to this place are a bit sketchy.  I basically went to 107th and Willow Brook Road in Palos Park and drove until I found it.  The FPDCC owns a lot of land out that way.  For reasons I don't understand, about every six square feet of forest preserve gets it's own name.  If you drive up the street, the parking lot on the left leads to one named woods, the the parking lot on the left will take you to some meadow.  Drive another half a mile and now you're at Some Other Woods on the right and A Different Woods on the left.  Very odd.  But it makes finding the places that aren't so well mapped a little harder.

When I finally found a sign that said Saganashkee Slough, I stopped at that parking lot, where people were basically fishing from their tailgates and trunks. There was a path into the woods off to the left, but there was a rope across it and it said "Closed".   I couldn't see a good reason for it to be closed so I hiked up about a quarter of a mile and turned back. I couldn't see a good reason to keep going through woods where the only wildlife was massive swarms of huge mosquitoes. And after The Obnoxious, Unending Tick Incident that still isn't over, I don't want to tempt West Nile disease. Because these suckers? Very unimpressed with the repellent I bought on my way out today.

Speaking of the Unending Tick Incident... I've apparently hit some kind of critical mass in the antibiotics they gave me.  I was told they might make me "a little photosensitive", but when I was out today, direct, unfiltered sunlight actually HURT.  I mean, this has to be what being a vampire feels like!  In the shadows, fine; step into the sun and my hands started to burn.  I'm going to be ridiculously glad to get off these stupid meds.

So I got in the car and drove up to the next parking lot. More people fishing, and talking and generally being annoying, no paths and no easy access to the water.

So I got back in the car and drove to yet another parking lot. If you decide to head out to this place, this is where you want to go. It's on 107th Street and is listed as the Boat Launch. Which, you know, is because it has a boat launch.  There were no boaters today, just some people fishing off the pier.

At first I was pretty disappointed. I could get to the water periodically, but I wasn't seeing much. I did get one frog and a few butterflies. I went into the Savannah area for a bit and got some butterflies and grasshoppers, but there was nothing there that I couldn't get at the Chicago Ponds.

But the path (which is to the right of the parking lot, when you're facing the water) was open, so I started walking around the pond. This path is clearly maintained, but it's done badly.  They cut down the trees that have started growing between the rocks, but they leave about six inches of wood sticking up out of the ground.  And they don't get to these trees until they stumps are about three inches across, so they aren't little avoidable things.  I don't know about everyone else, but when I'm shooting, I'm not concentrating on where I'm putting my feet.  So a number of these things caused me near-collisions with either the ground or lake below me.

What I saw, but couldn't shoot:
• A pair of male and female green hummingbirds. I'm so disappointed that I didn't even get a *bad* picture of these things. But if you know hummingbirds, you know how fast they are.
• A falcon or eagle. Some large bird of prey. I could hear it at all three stops, and I saw it at the first stop, but it always stayed too far away to get it "on film".
• A water snake. As I was walking around the edge of the pond I heard a splash and saw a snake slither along the 'coast', duck under and slither across some more. I didn't even know Illinois HAD snakes that could swim!

These are the things that make me think that going back to this place wouldn't be a total waste of time, but overall, I'd give the place a C+ for now.  Maybe during migratory season it'll be more interesting.

I did manage to get some good shots.

For me the big thing that makes a trip a success is finding something new.  A new species or variant or something.

Today I found...

Green Bee, Purple Flower
A Green Bee.  Kind of like the Green Frog, it's just called "Green Bee" - it's the species, not just being descriptive.  From what I've found online, basically they're a species of sweatbee.
Green Bee, Purple Flower II

Here she is a little closer.  This is likely a female since her abdomen is darker than her head and thorax.

Little Red... I dunno What.

Here's a creepy little dude.  A grasshopper with a stinger?  Not really.  It's a species of long-horned grasshopper with an ovipositor.

All the Google in the world couldn't find me a species name.  Anyone have an idea?  She was pretty small and her wings are pretty underdeveloped, so it's possible that she's a juvenile.

Not So Common As They'd Have You Think
This is apparently a Common Whitetail Dragonfly.  Though, he's the second one I've seen and the tails always look more blue to me.  Just as I was about to write the whole trip off as a loss, this guy landed on the path right in front of me. :)

Text Book Perfect Pearl Crescent

Like Midewin, the Pearl Crescents were out in force.  I love this shot, you can actually see the stripes on his antennae.  And he was showing off his wings so very nicely for me.
Lone Bird

There weren't many birds sitting where I could catch them.  There were herons on the banks *way* far away from me and the hawk overhead, but here a female Red Winged Black Bird sat and posed for a minute.
Big Bee on Row of Little

I love this shot.  This is probably the closest, clearest, largest shot I've gotten of a bee.  I love how you can see his legs between the flowers and how he seems to be holding on with his antennae.
Stamens Throw Shadows

The chicory flowers are starting to wither.  But This one still had very prominent stamens that were giving some great shadows today.
Thistle Starts to Seed

Bull Thistles are starting to go to seed.  Oddly this plant's higher blossoms had dried already and the little fuzzy seeds were starting to blow away, while this lower flower was still in bloom.
Two Prickly Characters

And while they're blooming, the bees are still visiting.

More pictures tomorrow.  And less rambling narrative. :)

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