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Giving Thanks for Our Wonderful Scouts!

Posted by on 10:50 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Giving Thanks for Our Wonderful Scouts!

Giving Thanks for Our Wonderful Scouts!

 

At Spears Woods, a patina of frost covered the woodland floor, decorating this oak leaf with an unbroken strand of silver garlend.*

The miracles of nature are all around us. And ChicagoNatureNOW! brings them to you every week from April through October. Please help keep it going by becoming a scout or by donating here.

We have successfully completed the second year of ChicagoNatureNOW!—”we” being the consequential word.

Last year, the first year, I was the lone scout. I’d wandered the trails and wondered how many more seasons I could keep doing this without manpower and funding. Funding remains a major concern (donate now). But, this year, help came in the form of a handful of generous Nature Scouts, who volunteered hundreds of hours and thousands of miles in travel to share the soul-stirring wonder of Chicago nature with you and the world. I am so grateful. And, we hope you are grateful, as well.

At this time of giving thanks, I’d like to express my gratitude to the following scouts for their participation:

Carolyn Byerly Dean – Social Media Assistance, Species Identification & Knowledge
Eriko Kojima – Species Identification & Knowledge
Mary Anicich – Species Identification & Knowledge
Karin Pawlak-Grunow –  Species Identification & Knowledge, Scouting
Laurel Salvador – Future scout who just signed up for 2018!
Kathy Deets – Scouting
Zeke Wei – Scouting
Charlie Yang – Scouting

I would, especially, like to extend my deepest appreciation to three members of the team for their consistent dedication and passion: Zeke Wei (our first Nature Scout), Charlie Yang, and Kathy Deets. Each week, they drove around to the various preserve, hiked them, identified plants, and gathered data for the weekly alerts. Just months ago, they were newbies to nature. Now, they’ve learned and grown so much, and on their way to becoming knowledgeable ambassadors of Chicago nature. Thanks to their generosity, I am more optimistic about the future of this effort. Zeke, Charlie, and Kathy, I cannot thank you enough!

Moving forward, the goal is to increase the number of on-the-ground scouts to twenty. Consider being part of our fun and enthusiastic team, which culminates in an end-of-year party!

Regarding the funding, ChicagoNatureNOW! currently has 414 subscribers plus many other website visitors who don’t subscribe. Unfortunately, our income is well out of step with the number of followers, having only raised $250 in two years. So, if you’ve read this far into the post, you’re probably a regular user. To allow us to continue, please show your thanks for our wonderful scouts and the work that we do by donating here. For me, ChicagoNatureNOW! is a labor of love, but it is also quite laborious—consuming forty percent of my week. Every week from April through October, we connect the community with national-park quality beauty. Help us continue the mission.

Thanks to all!

—Mike

Chicago Fall Color Report, Nature Info & News – 11/03/2017

Posted by on 9:13 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Report, Nature Info & News – 11/03/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert &
Fall Color Report
November 3, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall-color weekend with Chicago nature news & info
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to find fall color in Chicago?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Fall-color highlights to help you plan your fall outing around Chicago:

This is a crazy year where it seems like each individual tree is doing its own thing. Depending the preserve location and the species of tree, my overall estimate of peak fall color is currently at 70 to 100 percent. My definition of peak color means “a maximum color mix,” which often includes a little green. That’s because, if you wait for the green to go away, most of the leaves are already on the ground. The plants of Chicago’s prairies are also exhibiting fall’s effects, with a tallgrass tapestry of autumn foliage: towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, you’ll often find more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see tall waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and venerable bur oaks.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for a walk through the grand expanse. Then take in the view from the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: The trail is closed as they construct a new boardwalk. Immerse yourself in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

Here are examples of fall color in Chicago’s preserves from previous years. Get out there, and discover what this fall brings:

 

 

At Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, where the prairie meets the woodland, late-September grasses turn to gold.*

At Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, where the prairie meets the woodland, grasses turn to gold.*

 

At Spears Woods, along the shore of Hogwash Slough, the first light to fall upon this autumn wetland reveals an intricate patina of frost formed by the foggy night air.*

At Spears Woods, along the shore of Hogwash Slough, the first light to fall upon this autumn wetland reveals an intricate patina of frost formed by the foggy night air.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Compared to the golden maples of autumn, oaks can be a bit understated. Here, at Bluff Spring Fen, this bur oak, when placed in the spotlight, certainly puts on a show.*

 

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

 

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

 

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

 

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

 

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

 

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

 

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 10/27/2017

Posted by on 4:03 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 10/27/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
October 27, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall-color weekend with Chicago nature news & info
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to find fall color in Chicago?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Fall-color highlights to help you plan your fall outing around Chicago:

Depending the preserve location and the species of tree, my overall estimate of peak fall color is currently at 50 to 70 percent. My definition of peak color means “a maximum color mix,” which often includes a little green. That’s because, if you wait for the green to go away, most of the leaves are already on the ground. The plants of Chicago’s prairies are also exhibiting fall’s effects, with a tallgrass tapestry of autumn foliage: towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, you’ll often find more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see tall waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and venerable bur oaks.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for a walk through the grand expanse. Then take in the view from the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: The trail is closed as they construct a new boardwalk. Immerse yourself in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

Here are examples of fall color in Chicago’s preserves from previous years. Get out there, and discover what this fall brings:

 

 

At Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, where the prairie meets the woodland, late-September grasses turn to gold.*

At Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois, where the prairie meets the woodland, grasses turn to gold.*

 

At Spears Woods, along the shore of Hogwash Slough, the first light to fall upon this autumn wetland reveals an intricate patina of frost formed by the foggy night air.*

At Spears Woods, along the shore of Hogwash Slough, the first light to fall upon this autumn wetland reveals an intricate patina of frost formed by the foggy night air.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Compared to the golden maples of autumn, oaks can be a bit understated. Here, at Bluff Spring Fen, this bur oak, when placed in the spotlight, certainly puts on a show.*

 

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

 

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

 

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

 

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

 

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

 

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

 

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Fall Color Weekends, Nature Info & News – 10/20/2017

Posted by on 10:00 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Weekends, Nature Info & News – 10/20/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
October 20, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall-color weekend with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to plan your fall-color weekends?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your fall outings around Chicago:

Finally, the trees in our woodlands are beginning to show some fall color. Depending the preserve location and the species of trees, my overall estimate of peak color is currently at ten to thirty percent. Of course, the plants of Chicago’s prairies are exhibiting fall’s effects, with a tallgrass tapestry of autumn foliage: towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, you’ll often find more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see tall waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and venerable bur oaks.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for a walk through the grand expanse. Then take in the view from the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: Immerse yourself in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

Here are examples of fall color in Chicago’s preserves from previous years. Get out there, and discover what this fall brings:

 

 

At Spears Woods, with the warm evening light falling on this October prairie, the tubular tops of blazing star burned with a golden glow; but not two months earlier, they blazed with purple passion. Autumn transformed the cylindrical inflorescence of hundreds of feathery purple flowers into a column of invisible seeds—invisible because what we see is not the seed but the achene, a dry fruit with a single seed hidden inside. On this plant, also known as gayfeather, each achene, by design, forms a downy tan plume that takes to the air to be scattered by the wind.*

At Spears Woods, with the warm evening light falling on this October prairie, the tubular tops of blazing star burned with a golden glow; but not two months earlier, they blazed with purple passion. Autumn transformed the cylindrical inflorescence of hundreds of feathery purple flowers into a column of invisible seeds—invisible because what we see is not the seed but the achene, a dry fruit with a single seed hidden inside. On this plant, also known as gayfeather, each achene, by design, forms a downy tan plume that takes to the air to be scattered by the wind.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Compared to the golden maples of autumn, oaks can be a bit understated. Here, at Bluff Spring Fen, this bur oak, when placed in the spotlight, certainly puts on a show.*

 

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

At Spears Woods, this ephemeral pond becomes a portal into an afternoon of autumn splendor.*

 

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

In the fall at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, don’t just stare up at the trees. Look down. There’s a bounty of color at your feet. Here, a black oak leaf landed amidst a bed of pasture rose with leaves more vibrant than any tree in this savanna.*

 

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

At Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, this radiant bush reaching out into the sand prairie is shrubby cinquefoil. In the summer, the plant is undramatic. Like a long, drawnout fireworks display, it releases its arsenal of flowers over a two- to three-month period as one flower explodes over here and another over there. But, in the fall, with foliage burning bright, shrubby cinquefoil goes all out, putting on one of the finest finales of any plant. There’s a lesson here. This fall, spare yourself the stiff neck from staring up at the trees and visit the prairie where you’ll find more color than in any woodland.*

 

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

Visit Raccoon Grove in the fall for its golden maples and picturesque stream.*

 

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

In the fall at Black Partridge Woods, I head to the high vantage point of these bluffs to immerse myself in the intoxicating colors and textures of the tiered foliage. Down below, the creek bed is dry. But when the flow returns, fallen leaves will ride the colorful currents that reflect the radiant dome.*

 

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

Autumn is the Chicago area is spectacular, especially along Sawmill Creek in Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois.*

 

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

As you hike the boardwalk and the narrow sections of the Cowles Bog Trail, you may find yourself glancing down to watch your step. But in the fall, remember to raise your eyes to view the scenery in the skies.*

 

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Fall Color Weekends, Nature Info & News – 10/13/2017

Posted by on 4:20 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Weekends, Nature Info & News – 10/13/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
October 13, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall color weekend with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to plan your fall-color weekends?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your fall outings around Chicago:

Though the rain has come, the weather has yet to cool down, and the woods remain mostly green. However, the plants of Chicago’s prairie are the first habitat to exhibit fall’s effects, where the final flowering asters have faded into a tallgrass tapestry of autumn foliage: towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, you’ll often find more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see tall waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and venerable bur oaks.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for a walk through the grand expanse. Then take in the view from the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: Immerse yourself in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets.

 

PHOTO SECTION

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 10/05/2017

Posted by on 6:50 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 10/05/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
October 5, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall-color outings with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to plan your weekend adventures?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your fall-color outings around Chicago:

Given the hot, dry weather over the past six weeks, there has been very little change in the woodland canopy. However, the plants of the prairie have deep roots and are not as affected. The prairie is the first habitat to exhibit fall’s effects.

As the final flowering plants of aster and gentian are fading, experience towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, you’ll often find more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses. And don’t forget to look for fringed gentians in the wet areas.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September. Look for fringed and prairie gentians.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie in Glenview, Illinois: Though this is not an officially featured preserve on this website, visit now to see all three gentians in bloom—bottle, prairie, and fringed.
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see asters and waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and the final golden blooms, along with gentians at the seep of the fen.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for the various asters, and take in the grand expanse buy standing on the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: Take in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Bottle Gentians (or Closed Gentians)
These are not flowers that fill the landscape, but they are sublime. (See pictures below.) Look closely and you’ll find them at Lake in the Hills FenWolf Road PrairieSomme Prairie Grove, Powderhorn Prairie, and Belmont Prairie.

Fringed Gentians
Fringed gentians might be the prettiest flower in the Chicago region. The flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. Find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie,, Illinois Beach Nature PreserveLake in the Hills Fen, and Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie.

Asters, Asters, Asters!
Asters come in a variety of colors: white, pink, purple, and blue. The name comes from an Ancient Greek word for “star.” You can find them in most prairies and savannas, and in some wetlands around the region.

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Bottle Gentian (aka, Closed Gentian)

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air.*

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air. You can find bottle gentians at preserves like Powderhorn Prairie, Lake in the Hills fen, Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, *

 

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

 

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

 

Fringed Gentian

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. You can find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and Lake in the Hills Fen.*

 

Asters, Asters, Asters!

New England asters

New England aster is just one of the many species of aster that bloom this time of year.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 09/28/2017

Posted by on 6:46 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Fall Color Outings, Nature Info & News – 09/28/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
September 28, 2017

“Plan your Chicago fall-color outings with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to plan your weekends?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your fall-color outings around Chicago:

The autumn prairie is a mosaic of colors and textures. It is the first habitat to display autumn color in the foliage. And with the many asters currently in bloom, the prairie becomes a beautiful mosaic of colors and textures. You may experience towering waves of red-stemmed grasses and tawny, fluffy spikes of gayfeather that glow in the sunlight. In one small patch of prairie, it’s common to see more color than any autumn woodland in the region: oranges, golds, reds, maroons, cyans, browns, and tans. And, before they fade, don’t forget to look for the ethereal blue and purple gentians. Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie and the large grassland at its base.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Walk the wide trails to see the fall colors through the preserve’s various habitats.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses. And don’t forget to look for fringed gentians in the wet areas.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September. Look for fringed and prairie gentians.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie in Glenview, Illinois: Though this is not an officially featured preserve on this website, visit now to see all three gentians in bloom—bottle, prairie, and fringed.
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: Recently, the trails have been greatly improved. It’s a great time to see asters and waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established. So be careful.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and the final golden blooms, along with gentians at the seep of the fen.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel small as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for the various asters, and take in the grand expanse buy standing on the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: Take in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Bottle Gentians (or Closed Gentians)
These are not flowers that fill the landscape, but they are sublime. (See pictures below.) Look closely and you’ll find them at Lake in the Hills FenWolf Road PrairieSomme Prairie Grove, Powderhorn Prairie, and Belmont Prairie.

Fringed Gentians
Fringed gentians might be the prettiest flower in the Chicago region. The flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. Find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie,, Illinois Beach Nature PreserveLake in the Hills Fen, and Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie.

Asters, Asters, Asters!
Asters come in a variety of colors: white, pink, purple, and blue. The name comes from an Ancient Greek word for “star.” You can find them in most prairies and savannas, and in some wetlands around the region.

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Bottle Gentian (aka, Closed Gentian)

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air.*

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air. You can find bottle gentians at preserves like Powderhorn Prairie, Lake in the Hills fen, Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, *

 

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

 

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

 

Fringed Gentian

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. You can find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and Lake in the Hills Fen.*

 

Asters, Asters, Asters!

New England asters

New England aster is just one of the many species of aster that bloom this time of year.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

A great blue heron takes flight as the sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Nature Adventures, Nature Info & News – 09/20/2017

Posted by on 4:27 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Nature Adventures, Nature Info & News – 09/20/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
September 20, 2017

“Plan your Chicago autumn adventure with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

Using this website to plan your weekends?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago autumn adventure during the Season of Gold:

Chicago’s season of gold continues as fall colors become apparent. Fading yellow blooms are joined by flavescent foliage of plants that have dropped their petals long ago. Last week, giant sawtooth sunflower reigned supreme across the region. This week, their blooms are at thirty percent. Towering waves of red-stemmed grasses dance in the prairie winds. And, right now, some prairies offer beautiful purple displays of gentian. However, we have reached the end of the blooming season and next week will be the time when a visit to any preserve on my list will bring some sort of autumn color, whether it be from the glorious, yet underappreciated, withering prairie plants or the foliage in the woodland canopy.

This week’s top recommendation is to see the showy goldenrod at Shoe Factory Road Prairie. Next on the list are Somme Prairie GroveSpears Woods, Theodore Stone PreserveBluff Spring Fen, Lake in the Hills Fen. and Illinois Beach Nature Preserve.. However, right now, any preserve gives me a great feeling. This is also a time to watch hummingbirds, dance with the acrobatic ferns, and attend a canyon tour. Yes, there’s a canyon in Lemont! The season’s blooms are ending, but because the newfound color of withering foliage can be as beautiful as a grand display of wildflowers.

NOTE: Prairies are wet in the morning, and boy do I know it! So, trust me. Wear rain gear or you’ll become drenched in dew.

Here’s a list of preserves that are worth visiting as they begin changing into their autumn wardrobes:

  • Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates, Illinois: Walk this hill prairie to see showy goldenrod and then take a hike into the vast grassland below.
  • Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois: Get a wilderness experience by hiking the trails early in the day when few people visit.
  • Spears Woods in Willow Springs, Illinois: Fall colors are adding to the floral mix. Click here for the location of the trailhead that goes west into the prairies.
  • Lake in the Hills Fen: Visit to experience the fens and the grand prairie expanse of grasses and goldenrods. And don’t forget to look for fringed gentians near the wet areas.
  • Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin: This is a beautiful prairie in September. Look for fringed gentians.
  • Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois: This is another preserve that provides an escape from urban life..
  • Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie in Glenview, Illinois: Though this is not an officially featured preserve on this website, visit now to see all three gentians in bloom—bottle, prairie, and fringed.
  • Theodore Stone Preserve: The trails have been greatly improved and it’s a great time to see asters and waves of red grasses.
  • Kickapoo Prairie in Riverdale, Illinois: This is a beautiful prairie very close to Chicago’s city limits.
  • Powderhorn Prairie: This is the most biodiverse site within the city limits of Chicago, though the trails are not well established.
  • Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Visit to experience the towering grasses and the final golden blooms, along with fringed gentians at the seep of the fen.
  • Fermilab Prairie in Batavia: Feel short as you walk along wide prairie trails amidst skybound grasses and plants.
  • Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest, Illinois: Take a nice long walk along the wide trails to experience the changing colors of the prairie and wetlands.
  • Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois: Come for the various asters and the final stages of sawtooth sunflower. Take in the grand expanse buy standing on the deck of the prairie house at the north end.
  • Cowles Bog: Take in the early-autumn color on the trail that leads to Lake Michigan.
  • Miller Woods: Visit this large black oak savanna for galloping ferns and the variety of colors and textures.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Bottle Gentians (or Closed Gentians)
These are not flowers that fill the landscape, but they are sublime. (See pictures below.) Look closely and you’ll find them at Lake in the Hills FenWolf Road PrairieSomme Prairie Grove, Powderhorn Prairie, and Belmont Prairie.

Fringed Gentians
Fringed gentians might be the prettiest flower in the Chicago region. The flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. Find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie,, Illinois Beach Nature PreserveLake in the Hills Fen, and Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie.

Asters, Asters, Asters!
Asters come in a variety of colors: white, pink, purple, and blue. The name comes from an Ancient Greek word for “star.” You can find them in most prairies and savannas, and in some wetlands around the region.

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Sawtooth Sunflower

Sawtooth sunflowers bloom in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

Here at Wolf Road Prairie, and at almost every prairie in the region, sawtooth sunflower blooms in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season. See them at Spears Woods, Middlefork Savanna, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Chiwaukee Prairie, Kickapoo Prairie, Theodore Stone Preserve, Gensburg-Markham Prairie, and Belmont Prairie..*

Bottle Gentian (aka, Closed Gentian)

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air.*

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air. You can find bottle gentians at preserves like Powderhorn Prairie, Lake in the Hills fen, Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, *

 

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

 

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

 

Fringed Gentian

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. You can find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and Lake in the Hills Fen.*

 

Asters, Asters, Asters!

New England asters

New England aster is just one of the many species of aster that bloom this time of year.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

 Lake in the Hills Fen

This expansive landscape features showy goldenrod as it glows in the morning light at Lake in the Hills Fen in Lake in the Hills, Illinois.

Last week, on the morning of September 11, the expansive landscape at Lake in the Hills Fen featured newly blooming showy goldenrod. When the flog lifted, the flowers began to glow in the early morning light.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

At Cowles Bog in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the change to autumn colors begin with the ferns. Here, acrobatic cinnamon ferns take hold in the soggy ground of Cowles Bog, which is not a bog at all but, rather, a wetland known as a fen.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough

The sun sets on this hot summer afternoon at Saganashkee Slough in Willow Springs, Illinois near Chicago.

On this sweltering, sultry afternoon, a golden sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Info & News – 09/13/2017

Posted by on 12:00 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Outdoor Adventures, Nature Info & News – 09/13/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
September 13, 2017

“Plan your Chicago outdoor adventure with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

SCOUTS NEEDED! Click to help us share the beauty.

Using this website to plan your weekends?
Then please help support us. Click now to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago outdoor adventure during the Season of Gold:

 

September is the Season of Gold in Chicagoland. In the first half of the month, the prairies and savannas reflects the various sunny shades of goldenrod and sunflower-like plants. You’ll also find towering waves of red-stemmed grasses dancing in the prairie winds. And, right now, some prairies offer wonderful purple displays of rough blazing star and purple gentians.

The most prominent plant is the towering sawtooth sunflower (see picture below) that can easily reach twelve feet tall. The name comes from its serrated leaves that look saw-like. for the finest display in the region, visit Wolf Road Prairie.

This week’s recommendations are Somme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road Prairie, Spears Woods, Bluff Spring Fen, Lake in the Hills Fen. Wolf Road Prairie, and Illinois Beach Nature Preserve . If you’re in the neighborhood, visit Belmont Prairie, Theodore Stone PreserveMiller Woods, and Tolleston Dunes. This is also a time to watch hummingbirds, see fanning ferns, and go on a canyon tour. Yes, there’s a canyon in Lemont!

NOTE: Prairies are wet in the morning, and boy do I know it! So, trust me. Wear rain gear or you’ll become drenched in dew.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY

 

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States: In the open hill prairie, you’ll find wonderful displays of rough blazing star obedient plant , western sunflower, goldenrods and the grasses of Indian grass, and side oats grama, Under cover of the oak savanna, you’ll find a dense and prolific expanse of sawtooth sunflower, boneset, tall goldenrod, and Indian grass. In the prairie outside the fence, look into the distance to see expanses of auburn and brown from the tassels of big bluestem and Indian grass. Consider immersing yourself in these grasses by taking the wide trails through a vast panorama. While you’re in the area, you may want to check out Bluff Spring Fen, which is just fifteen minutes away by car.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: There’s a great variety of flowers in bloom throughout the preserve. Many of them are yellow, most notably sawtooth sunflower and tall coreopsis. Along your way, you’ll find asters, like the sky blue aster, and the rare savanna blazing star. Look for the gentians, too: the gorgeous cream gentian, bottle gentian, and prairie gentian. As is common during the late-summer months, you’ll travel through tunnels of big bluestem grass and Indian grass, which is probably the reason for the misnomer “tallgrass prairie.” It’s a misnomer because most species in a prairie are actually forbs (flowering plants). Still, when the first settlers travelling from the forests of the east, the towering grasses of Illinois would have been a unexpected obstacle.  The trails are narrow and somewhat overgrown. So watch your step. If you visit in the morning, wear rain gear or the plants will drench you with dew.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Sawtooth sunflower is everywhere, putting on a majestic gilded display in every direction. To scream, “Wow!” at the sight would be appropriate.

Spears Woods in Willow Springs: As you enter the prairie (see Spears Woods page for GPS coordinates), you are welcomed by the beautiful September tones of auburn, brown, and gold, and flashes of white as you explore the wetter areas. Big bluestem and Indian grass line provide the auburns and browns, while the golds are reflected in tall coreopsis, sawtooth sunflower, and long-bracted tickseed sunflower. Pearly stands of false aster can be found where the ground gets wet.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: This preserve is celebrating September gold of sawtooth sunflower, wingstem, and the various goldenrods. As you explore, you’ll find white snakeroot and asters under the trees and the sublime purples of fringed gentian and great blue lobelia in the wet areas. And, of course, as you enter the bowl of the fen, you’ll pass through skyward stands of big bluestem and Indian grass.

Lake in the Hills Fen in Lake in the Hills (I know, it’s redundant.): Make a trip to this vast preserve to experience the expansive of auburn and golden tones with rolling views of the prairie. Experience the tall grasses of big bluestem and Indian grass, along with the brilliant yellows of goldenrod, sawtooth sunflower, and prairie dock. The pinkish blooms of native thistles are joined by purple displays of rough blazing star and fringed gentians by the fens’ soggy seeps. This preserve is easily accessible with ample parking and wide lawn paths. Anytime I visit this vast preserve, I feel like I’ve gotten away. The preserve is very accessible with ample parking and wide lawn paths.

llinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is a beautiful outdoor getaway. It feels like wilderness, especially when go early in the day and you can be alone. You’ll find purple rough blazing star, western sunflower, showy goldenrod, and Indian grass.

 

IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT’S PROBABLY WORTH A TRIP TO:

Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins: The mesic prairie on the west side of the preserve (after entering the main entrance) is tall with grasses and yellow flowers like tall coreopsis, common sneezeweed, and brown-eyed Susan . However, it’s the dolomite (limestone) prairie to the east where the magic is happening. Growing from the rock is a glorious little patch that includes rough blazing star, little bluestem, yellow goldenrod, and the unusual white goldenrod that looks like an aster. There’s a also a delicate, low grass. This is a scene that steals my heart. It’s a very special and delicate spot, so please stay on the trail.

Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove is an intimate preserve that is currently showcasing sawtooth sunflower and bottle gentian.

Miller Woods & Tolleston Dunes in Indiana: I forecast that both preserves offer long trails through wooded dunes, ferns, and flowers. We did not have the resources to visit this preserve. Please help us by volunteer to become a nature scout.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Bottle Gentians (or Closed Gentians)
These are not flowers that fill the landscape, but they are sublime. (See pictures below.) Look closely and you’ll find them at Lake in the Hills FenWolf Road PrairieSomme Prairie Grove, Powderhorn Prairie, and Belmont Prairie.

Fringed Gentians
Fringed gentians might be the prettiest flower in the Chicago region. The flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. Find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie, and Lake in the Hills Fen.

Asters, Asters, Asters!
Asters come in a variety of colors: white, pink, purple, and blue. The name comes from an Ancient Greek word for “star.” You can find them in most prairies and savannas, and in some wetlands around the region.

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Sawtooth Sunflower

Sawtooth sunflowers bloom in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

Here at Wolf Road Prairie, and at almost every prairie in the region, sawtooth sunflower blooms in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season. See them at Spears Woods, Middlefork Savanna, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Chiwaukee Prairie, Kickapoo Prairie, Theodore Stone Preserve, Gensburg-Markham Prairie, and Belmont Prairie..*

Bottle Gentian (aka, Closed Gentian)

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air.*

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air. You can find bottle gentians at preserves like Powderhorn Prairie, Lake in the Hills fen, Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, *

 

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

 

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

 

Fringed Gentian

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days. You can find them at preserves like Bluff Spring Fen, Chiwaukee Prairie, and Lake in the Hills Fen.*

 

Asters, Asters, Asters!

New England asters

New England aster is just one of the many species of aster that bloom this time of year.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

Late-summer morning light strikes the tops of indian grass, western sunflower, and rough blazing star at the sand prairie along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois.*

In the sand prairie, early-morning September light strikes the tops of Indian grass, golden western sunflower, and rough blazing star in the sand prairie along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

 

 

Lake in the Hills Fen

This expansive landscape features showy goldenrod as it glows in the morning light at Lake in the Hills Fen in Lake in the Hills, Illinois.

On Monday, September 11, the expansive landscape at Lake in the Hills Fen featured newly blooming showy goldenrod. When the flog lifted, the flowers began to glow in the early morning light.

 

 Theodore Stone Preserve

The dolomite prairie on the eastern side of the preserve reminds me of a planned garden or springtime in the desert, where each plant is given its own space to grow. But instead of a separation of lifeless mulch or sand, here, rough blazing star and little bluestem are connected by a downy, green veil of mysterious grass.

The dolomite prairie on the eastern side of Theodore Stone Preserve resembles a planned garden or springtime in the desert, where each plant is given its own space to grow. But instead of a separation of lifeless mulch or sand, here, rough blazing star and little bluestem are connected by a downy, green veil of mysterious grass.*

 

 Shoe Factory Road Prairie

In late August at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, golden blooms of compass plant rise above a purple patches of rough blazing star.*

In late August at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, golden blooms of compass plant rise above a purple patches of rough blazing star.*

 

Ferns & Canyon Tours

My favorite part of Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve is the trail that winds beneath the black oaks of the savanna. Here, ferns begin to don the colors of autumn.*

In the September savanna at Hoosier Prairie, ferns begin to change color long before the trees.*

 

A forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.*

At Indiana Dunes Natoinal Lakeshore, a forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough

The sun sets on this hot summer afternoon at Saganashkee Slough in Willow Springs, Illinois near Chicago.

On this sweltering, sultry afternoon, a golden sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, September 21 (in rough order of urgency):

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike

 

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Info, & News – 09/07/2017

Posted by on 6:48 pm in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Chicago Outdoor Getaways, Info, & News – 09/07/2017

Chicago Nature Now! Alert
September 7, 2017

“Plan your Chicago outdoor getaway with Chicago nature info and news
to help you discover the region’s finest natural wonders.”

 

SCOUTS NEEDED! Click to help us share the beauty.

Using this website to plan your weekends?
Then please help support us. Click here to donate!

 

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Chicago outdoor getaway during the Season of Gold:

 

September is the season of gold. In the first half of the month, the prairies and savannas turn to gold as it reflects the various species of goldenrod and sunflower-like plants. You’ll also find towering waves of red-stemmed grasses dancing in the prairie winds. And, right now, some prairies offer wonderful purple displays of rough blazing star and purple gentians.

The most prominent plant is the towering sawtooth sunflower (see picture below) that can easily reach twelve feet tall. The name comes from its serrated leaves that look saw-like.

This week’s recommendations are Somme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road Prairie, Spears Woods, Bluff Spring Fen, Lake in the Hills Fen. Wolf Road Prairie, and Illinois Beach Nature Preserve . If you’re in the neighborhood, visit Theodore Stone PreserveMiller Woods, and Tolleston Dunes. This is also a time to watch hummingbirds, see fanning ferns, and go on a canyon tour. Yes, we have a canyon!

NOTE: Prairies are wet in the morning, so wear raingear or you’ll become drenched in dew.

 

WHERE TO GO THIS WEEKEND FOR A CHICAGO OUTDOOR GETAWAY

 

Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman States: In the open hill prairie, you’ll find wonderful displays of rough blazing star obedient plant , western sunflower, goldenrods and the grasses of Indian grass, and side oats grama, Under cover of the oak savanna, you’ll find a dense and prolific expanse of sawtooth sunflower, boneset, tall goldenrod, and Indian grass. In the prairie outside the fence, look into the distance to see expanses of auburn and brown from the tassels of big bluestem and Indian grass. Consider immersing yourself in these grasses by taking the wide trails through a vast panorama. While you’re in the area, you may want to check out Bluff Spring Fen, which is just fifteen minutes away by car.

Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: There’s a great variety of flowers in bloom throughout the preserve. Many of them are yellow, most notably sawtooth sunflower and tall coreopsis. Along your way, you’ll find asters, like the sky blue aster, and the rare savanna blazing star. Look for the gentians, too: the gorgeous cream gentian, bottle gentian, and prairie gentian. As is common during the late-summer months, you’ll travel through tunnels of big bluestem grass and Indian grass, which is probably the reason for the misnomer “tallgrass prairie.” It’s a misnomer because most species in a prairie are actually forbs (flowering plants). Still, when the first settlers travelling from the forests of the east, the towering grasses of Illinois would have been a unexpected obstacle.  The trails are narrow and somewhat overgrown. So watch your step. If you visit in the morning, wear rain gear or the plants will drench you with dew.

Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Sawtooth sunflower is everywhere putting on a majestic display of yellow in every direction you look. Wow!

Spears Woods in Willow Springs: As you enter the prairie (see Spears Woods page for GPS coordinates), you are welcomed by the beautiful September tones of auburn, brown, and gold, and flashes of white as you explore the wetter areas. Big bluestem and Indian grass line provide the auburns and browns, while the golds are reflected in tall coreopsis, sawtooth sunflower, and long-bracted tickseed sunflower. Pearly stands of false aster can be found where the ground gets wet.

Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: This preserve is celebrating September gold of sawtooth sunflower, wingstem, and the various goldenrods. As you explore, you’ll find white snakeroot and asters under the trees and the sublime purples of fringed gentian and great blue lobelia in the wet areas. And, of course, as you enter the bowl of the fen, you’ll pass through skyward stands of big bluestem and Indian grass.

Lake in the Hills Fen in Lake in the Hills (I know, it’s redundant.): Make a trip to this vast preserve to experience the expansive of auburn and golden tones with rolling views of the prairie. Experience the tall grasses of big bluestem and Indian grass, along with the brilliant yellows of goldenrod, sawtooth sunflower, and prairie dock. The pinkish blooms of native thistles are joined by purple displays of rough blazing star and fringed gentians by the fens’ soggy seeps. This preserve is easily accessible with ample parking and wide lawn paths. Anytime I visit this vast preserve, I feel like I’ve gotten away. The preserve is very accessible with ample parking and wide lawn paths.

llinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion is a beautiful outdoor getaway. It feels like wilderness, especially when go early in the day and you can be alone. You’ll find purple rough blazing star, western sunflower, showy goldenrod, and Indian grass.

 

IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT’S PROBABLY WORTH A TRIP TO:

Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins: The mesic prairie on the west side of the preserve (after entering the main entrance) is tall with grasses and yellow flowers like tall coreopsis, common sneezeweed, and brown-eyed Susan . However, it’s the dolomite (limestone) prairie to the east where the magic is happening. Growing from the rock is a glorious little patch that includes rough blazing star, little bluestem, yellow goldenrod, and the unusual white goldenrod that looks like an aster. There’s a also a delicate, low grass. This is a scene that steals my heart. It’s a very special and delicate spot, so please stay on the trail.

Miller Woods & Tolleston Dunes in Indiana: I forecast that both preserves offer long trails through wooded dunes, ferns, and flowers. We did not have the resources to visit this preserve. Please help us by volunteer to become a nature scout.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

Bottle Gentians (or Closed Gentians)
These are not flowersthat fill the landscape, but they are sublime. (See pictures below.) Look closely and you’ll find them at Lake in the Hills FenWolf Road PrairieSomme Prairie Grove, Powderhorn Prairie, and Belmont Prairie.

Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds!
The hummingbirds are still around and should be for the next couple of weeks. You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau CanyonPilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.

Ferns & Canyon Tours
Cowles Bog TrailMiller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors. If you’d like to experience a beautiful fern-lined canyon, call Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois to sign up for their next canyon tour. Hurry! They fill up fast.

See a Summer Sunset
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois is sensational for sunsets, as our celestial star—a bright, burning brass ball—slowly sinks in the sky to start a sultry summer eve.

 

PHOTO SECTION

Sawtooth Sunflower

Sawtooth sunflowers bloom in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season at Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois.*

Sawtooth sunflowers bloom in fields of towering, endless gold in one of the last dramatic displays of the summer season at Wolf Road Prairie and most tallgrass prairies in the region, including Spears Woods, Middlefork Savanna, Somme Prairie Grove, Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Chiwaukee Prairie, Kickapoo Prairie, Theodore Stone Preserve, Gensburg-Markham Prairie, and Belmont Prairie..*

Bottle Gentian (aka, Closed Gentian)

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air.*

Blue bottle gentians survive under the shadow of the dense September prairie, where plants, like this sawtooth sunflower, can tower twelve feet into the air. You can find bottle gentians at preserves like Powderhorn Prairie, Lake in the Hills fen, Belmont Prairie, Wolf Road Prairie, Somme Prairie Grove, and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, *

 

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

When I first set eyes upon these fading blooms of bottle gentian, I was taken aback, struck by an arrow through my heart. Instantly, I fell in love with the prettiest flowers I had ever seen. Maybe I was just having one of those days, but I was close to tears.*

 

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

Bottle gentian (or closed gentian) is fully dependent on bumblebees for its survival. The petals of this unusual flower are effectively closed to other insects, but the strong bumblebee is able to muscle its way in through the tip. Late in the season, when fewer plants are blooming, bottle gentian relies on the slim pickings for pollination, hoping bumblebees won’t mind the extra effort.*

 

Fringed Gentian

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

Gorgeous fringed gentians bloom in September. However, the flowers are diurnal, meaning that the the blooms only open up with the sun and are closed at night and, sometimes, on cloudy days.*

 

Big Bluestem Grass and the Tallgrass Prairie

Big bluestem grass gives the true meaning to the term "tallgrass prairie."*

Here at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, big bluestem grass gives true meaning to the term “tallgrass prairie.” Find big bluestem at Belmont PrairieSomme Prairie GroveShoe Factory Road PrairieWolf Road PrairieFermilab PrairieGensburg Markham PrairieKickapoo Woods and PrairieSpears WoodsTheodore Stone Preserve, and other local prairies over the next several weeks.*

 

Illinois Beach Nature Preserve

Late-summer morning light strikes the tops of indian grass, western sunflower, and rough blazing star at the sand prairie along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois.*

In the sand prairie, early-morning September light strikes the tops of Indian grass, golden western sunflower, and rough blazing star in the sand prairie along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion, Illinois.*

 

 

Somme Prairie Grove

Obedient plant at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

Obedient plant at Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook, Illinois.*

 

 Theodore Stone Preserve

The dolomite prairie on the eastern side of the preserve reminds me of a planned garden or springtime in the desert, where each plant is given its own space to grow. But instead of a separation of lifeless mulch or sand, here, rough blazing star and little bluestem are connected by a downy, green veil of mysterious grass.

The dolomite prairie on the eastern side of Theodore Stone Preserve resembles a planned garden or springtime in the desert, where each plant is given its own space to grow. But instead of a separation of lifeless mulch or sand, here, rough blazing star and little bluestem are connected by a downy, green veil of mysterious grass.*

 

 Shoe Factory Road Prairie

In late August at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, golden blooms of compass plant rise above a purple patches of rough blazing star.*

In late August at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, golden blooms of compass plant rise above a purple patches of rough blazing star.*

 

Atop this hill prairie called Shoe Factory Road Prairie, obedient plant and Indian grass take in the view.*

Ferns & Canyon Tours

Royal ferns in the light fog of the savanna at Hoosier Prairie in Highland, Indiana

Royal ferns in the light fog of the savanna at Hoosier Prairie in Schererville, Indiana.*

 

A forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.

In the Cowles Bog area, you’ll find many species of fern. Here, a forest of royal ferns thrives in a wetland that has formed at the base of a high dune.*

 

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois.

Lush ferns line the walls of Sagawau Canyon in Lemont, Illinois. But you can only see it if you sign up for their upcoming canyon tours. Register soon. They fill up quickly.*

 

 Sultry Summer Sunsets Over Saganashkee Slough (That’s a mouthful!)

The sun sets on this hot summer afternoon at Saganashkee Slough in Willow Springs, Illinois near Chicago.

On this sweltering, sultry afternoon, a golden sun sets over Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills, Illinois.*

* Photo is representational and was not recorded this year. Bloom times vary from year to year.

 

SCOUTING NEEDS for my next report on Thursday, September 14 (in rough order of urgency):

 

If you’d like to help your neighbors discover national-park quality natural events around town, then become an official scout. Or, you can help by just sending us pictures and a text description from your visit. Another way is to post your pictures to Instagram using these essential hashtags: #ChicagoNatureNow and #NameOfPreserve.

Do you find this website useful? Do you benefit from our many hours of weekly scouting? Then please help keep it going by donating or purchasing my nationally-acclaimed book.

—Mike