|Myrtle Warbler courtesy of Darrell Coquillette |
of Friends of Afton
And since I live within the forest preserve, I wanted to get out there and do a little birdwatching. My husband and I had gone out in the park earlier, and did our "managing" duties of cleaning up after people. Discovered some maniacs actually tried to start a fire! The fire danger is very high right now and we have alot of long grass that wasn't burned this spring. Not a good idea!
After being out on the wetlands, and seeing different waterfowl, I wanted to get back out there after lunch, by myself and identify a few birds.
The wind kicked up after lunch. So, that limited me to staying close by, which was fine. I wanted to just get out there by myself. I hauled a backpack with everything I needed, and a fold-up chair that I could carry too.
Once I got close enough to the water I got rewarded by spying two water birds walking around in the shallows. This is a wetlands, and since they've built it we have had a lot of different types of birds flock to the waterways. Mainly Canadian geese, and the malards, but other birds come here too. So, I hunkered down, got out my spy-glasses and zoomed my feathered friends in. I believe they were Yellowlegs, but don't know if they were the Lesser or Greater. They look almost the same and their habitats over-lap.
Across the water, I saw a couple of people making their way down the path that lead to a levee. I knew they wouldn't be able to get very far, as there is no bridge there. I was surprised to see anyone out in the park at around noon on Easter Sunday. *shrugs*
I packed up and hiked a little further, following a path into the wooded area. They had cleared out some areas, but had left the woods to the west edge. This pathway skirted the old nursery. (see picture below)
I found a nice spot, slipped my folding chair out of its bag, got my binoculars out, bird book ready and again was rewarded by spotting in a maple tree that was just putting out leaves, a Myrtle warbler. Very pretty. with yellow, black and white markings (picture above/credit). I had not yet seen this warbler (or any really, this spring), this season. So, pat myself on the back. I then saw two males together, flitting through boughs and branches hunting for bugs.
And then I had to make lemonade--bad!
So, I hiked back up to the house. Did my business and got back out, but I went into the old nursery. I had discovered this spot behind all the sheds and realized I could sit there, no one would know where I was if I didn't tell them. I got comfy and jotted down things in my journal. Wanting to get back to nature and enjoy the outdoors again, I felt that this would be the spot to do it.
And then I started thinking if I were to cut some low-growing branches on a few trees and clean up fallen branches here and there, I'd have a clear pathway further in. Where I was the finest, thinnest grass grows. A little further in and to the right a bunch of raspberries grow wild. I could pick till the cows came home. While sitting there I felt like I was a million miles away. I could ponder a lot just sitting there.
But, my desire to clear out the area took over. I strode further in, where the white pine trees made an impenetrable wall of sweet-smelling pine, and under the line of walnuts and considered walking up to the garage and grabbing a few tools to cut and saw.
Then, my husband made his whistle to me. There he was standing on the perimeter. I told him "C'mon in!" I showed him what I wanted to do. He got excited and wanted to help me--actually didn't want me to do all that cutting and lifting all by myself (worried for me, as always).
So he helped me with the sawing and cutting and lugging branches over to a spot where we made a wall so no one would be able to see in once things grew in and greened up. He even suggested that he could take the small mower inside one spot and mow down the grass so that I could sit there.
He didn't do that today. He did plenty of work over the weekend. This wasn't something he really needed to add to his busy weekend. In fact this morning while we were out at the spillway, looking at where they've proposed to put in a bridge, I turned around, and he wasn't there. I looked down. There he was on the ground. He'd stepped into a big hole! He was okay, but worried about jarring his neck and he did get a headache right after.
|barn on Afton Forest Preserve property - to the |
right is a portion of wetlands (after a controlled burn)
to the far right, beside barn is the old nursery
our house sits behind the barn.