Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rollins Savanna - 9.20.10 - Post 1

Rollins Savanna - Grayslake, Illinois.  This trip, in hindsight had more ups than downs, but it did have a couple big drawbacks and the Universe was determined to make this not be an easy trip.

First of all, I Googled the place, read the website and it sounded great.  "One of the largest uninterrupted savannas in Illinois."  Sounds good, right?  What they didn't say is, "And we've plopped it right in the middle of several busy suburban neighborhoods."  I give this place a C- for one major reason - I could never hike far enough out to be clear of the noise of traffic.  No matter where I was in the park, I could hear cars or trains or both.  At one point I even heard a massive car crash (I hope everyone was alright - it didn't sound good at all).  From most points I could see the traffic light at the parking lot entrance and/or large tracts of modern houses.

I did see plenty of wildlife, which was great for a fall walk, but it might have been even better if the on-again, off-again rain would have stayed more off-again.  As it was, it was dry for the hour drive up there, but as I got about a quarter-mile up the trail it started to sprinkle.  I didn't mind getting me wet so much, but the camera equipment would not have approved, so I booked it back to the car. I could see a break in the clouds, so I figured I'd sit in the car and read a book for half an hour and see where we were.  Twenty minutes later, it had stopped so I set back out.  I got about half or three-quarters of a mile up the same road this time before the rain started again.  So, again, I turned around and headed back.  Only this time it stopped before I even made it back to the car.  But I really didn't want to see the first bit of that same trail a third time - it wasn't that interesting the first two times.  So I went around to the left instead, and fortunately after that the rain held off.

Before I was even out of the car and set up to hike, I saw these two birds of prey circling me.

I know northern Illinois has Red Tailed Hawks, but I'm not sure if this is one.  (I didn't do anything to 'remove' the background on this shot... it just happens to be the same white as the blog's text box.  Weird.)
Something about the way this one moved made me think it was too body-heavy to be a falcon.  I know I heard at least one owl.  Could this be him?
This body shape makes me think this one was a falcon.

I think I shot all of these with my kit lens - I hadn't even had a chance to put on my telephoto yet, so they're crap shots.  I need to actually set up with the tripod somewhere and wait for something to come into view and see if I can get some better ones.

This bee is on a New England Aster Plant.  Most flowering plants are done at this point, but these asters seem to still be going strong.
I'm fairly sure this is a Red-Eyed Vireo.  I saw a lot of these guys, but I couldn't get a really, really sharp shot of any of them because they're highly skittish.
 So the leaves are changing.  Most of them slowly going yellow or occasionally red.  This tree, for some reason, seemed to be heading for a bright "Tang" orange. (Anyone else remember Tang?  Do they even make that stuff any more?)
 Two Bull Thistle flowers.  I love that these are coming off the same stem, yet one is purple, one is white, one is closed and one is open...  I'm pretty sure the one on the right is going to seed.  You have to wonder how they didn't mature at the same rate.
 My bee on the aster again.  Look how clearly defined his wing veins are.  Love that!  Also, the joints in his legs are clear.  He was being highly cooperative. :)
Another Vireo.  Like I said lots of these at this park.
Another crap picture, but I finally saw a deer!  I'd seen the hoofprint at Volo, but I hadn't seen an actual live one all summer.  This guy was running down the length of the fence.

Lots more to come.  This walk had a few false starts, but once I got moving, there was more to see than I initially thought there would be.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, they still make Tang. I enjoyed some in Alaska. Hot Tang. It sure as hell beats coffee, tea, or just plain hot water, let me tell you.