Thursday, February 2, 2012

Up in the Sky! Part 2

Here are pictures from my trip to Starved Rock.

On the hiking trail.
Mascot from Raptor show
Can you count how many sparrows in the bush? They're hiding really well.
French Canyon
Illinois River

Barn Owl that touched the top of my head.

Eagle! Way in the distance but it's an eagle!

Wedge Eagle on left and Bald Eagle on the RightBald EagleTawny Owl
Wedge Eagle
Crow that Collected Donations
Here is our birding group. I'm in the purple on the left.

Up in the Sky! Part 1

Hey everybody! It feels like its been a while since I posted. First few weeks of school were busy, busy, busy! Other than school, I took a much anticipated (and needed) trip to Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, IL. Myself and some avid birders went to see the eagles last week. Real bald eagles! I never even knew there were eagles in Illinois.

When we arrived to the site, we watched the chickadees, red house finches, and sparrows fly back and forth to different feeders. The Illinois river runs through the park, so my group and I walked toward the edge to find the some eagles. To our luck we found one perched in a tree across the river. It looked so serene. It's feathers rustling in the wind. After words, we drove across to the visitor's center to see the raptor show about different birds of prey. All the tickets were gone, but next day's show looked promising.

It was getting dark, so we had dinner in the lodge on the park grounds. I had large fried shrimp and mashed Yukon gold potatoes. We all shared food and stories by a huge brick fire place. The fun didn't stop. Back at the hotel was wine, sake, and mascato to liven us up even more. We even had a twist dance contest. One of the women in our group is the head of the Audubon society for Chicago. She suggested we dance for the volunteers and bird rescue group meeting on the lobby floor. We all figured why not! And went down to the breakfast room in the hotel. They got to judge the twist contest, and some even participated! It was most fun I think a lot of us had in a while. We danced back to our rooms for the night in anticipation of more eagle watching the next day.

It had snowed over night, but Starved Rock State Park was beautiful. Although most of the trees were bare, the white pines gave a soft green color to the landscape. Some of the oaks had some orange leaves left on the branches adding a hint bold color to the snowy ground. First order of business was the raptor show. Our antics last night paid off because we were able to get front row seats in the show. There were hawks, owls, and eagles that flew right over our heads during the show. One owl touched the top of my head flying back to the handler it actually made me feel lucky.

After the show, some of us hiked down the French canyon. It was slippery on the stairs into the canyon, but the yellow sandstone looked lovely in the snow and sunlight. After lunch and a little more bird watching, it was time to go home. Our bird count was 10 eagles. We all went home satisfied with the success of our trip. I want to go back to Starved Rock as soon as possible.

Pictures from my trip are in part 2. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Where's Winter???

I live in Chicago and I am used to wearing two pairs of pants, heavy boots, and a BIG coat everywhere I go from November to well into May. This winter is sunny? It's mild mid 40s, 50s outside? As far as snow, it has only been a dusting that disappears by noon day. At first I appreciated the warm weather, especially after that awful snow storm last year. Now its January there have been no regular 30 degree temps or measurable amounts of snow. I find the warm weather strange.

I am a gardener and this would be my 4th gardening season. I had some great plans to start my an edible perennial garden before I hit the road for awhile. With the gentle weather now, I am worried what weather will spell for the coming growing season.

Why worry, you can't start planting until early June?" I normally start planning my garden about this time, and for many gardeners that's normal. I can budget what I need for the season. In addition, I can draw and redraw how I want the final garden to look. I start researching different varieties of vegetables and plants and compare seed catalogs. So there is a lot to do before I start planting seeds. Planning my garden, made me think the unseasonably warm weather now, might bring wild, unfavorable weather later.

I have to remind myself it's only January. Time will tell what the weather will be 5-6 months from now. Heck, can't tell what it will be like tomorrow. So as I am planning, it will help to have alternative plants to start in case summer is wet and cool, dry and hot, whatever. That's what life's about. You gotta roll with the punches and be prepared for anything. Instead of worrying, I will just prepare for anything that maybe on the horizon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello, everyone! Happy New Year! The ending of 2011 was a whirlwind. My house had quite a few house guests stay with me with weekend.

Friday, my dog Marshall had to go to the vet and that took a big hit out of my travel fund. He had a very bad ear infection, and he was lethargic, wasn't eating, or drinking. He's better after a few days at the vet. I brought him home today. I'm so happy to have him back.

While Marshall was at the vet, my cousin and her dog Handsome stayed over for a few nights. The house was crowded, full of barking, laughing, eating and the list goes on. On top of it I got a cold, but through it all I still had fun. Handsome did a good job of keeping me company until I got Marshall back, so it all worked out.

That's Handsome below. He's a blonde Pomeranian. He hates it when people go up and down the stairs, so he barked at us every time we went to the basement or the upstairs room. Other than that, he was a good dog during his stay. When he first got to our house, Handsome just spun in circles for 20 minutes. He was entertaining.