The weather yesterday was forecast to be perfect for spending time in the great outdoors, so in preparation, I went on-line to research recreation areas around Lisle and found that DuPage County has 60 Forest Preserves encompassing 25,000 acres, with 145 miles of trails. One of the closet ones to me is Herrick Lake, with 896 acres of land that includes four different habitats, Lake/Pond/Waterway, Prairie or Grassland, Wetland and Woodland and 7 miles of trails, so Saturday morning I headed out. After a short 15 minute drive I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my camera and binoculars and headed off on a paved trail that quickly gave way to a gravel path. The path was 6' - 8' wide in order to accommodate hikers, runners, bikers and horseback riders; I didn't see anyone on horseback, but there were families on bikes, runners of all ages, even a youth group picking up litter. The air was filled with the calls of Spring Peepers, a scene that was repeated at almost every bog or swamp within the Preserve. At Herrick Swamp, their calls were so loud, there must have been hundreds of them, but they were so deep in the tules that I never saw a single one. It was hard to believe a frog that only gets 1.5" long could be responsible for the cacophony of sound emanating from the swamp.
|This is a recording of the call of Pseudacris crucifer, Spring Peeper|
The system of trails is well marked, with a map at each point where they intersect showing the trail name, length and direction. I went off trail a few times on unmarked side trails, some of which were easy to traverse and some a little more difficult, though none of them overly strenuous. By getting off the beaten path, I saw some flora and fauna I would have missed from the main trail. Unfortunately, about half an hour after I arrived it turned cloudy and the lighting for photos, other than closeups, poor at best. I saw vultures, a Blue Jay and several Cardinals, but the quality of the photos was such that they were unusable. I did manage to get photos of several different types of mushrooms, but I have been unable to identify them. I also got a photo of a Pied-billed Grebe, a Song Sparrow and a Red-eared Slider.
|Podilymbus podiceps, Pied-billed Grebe|
|Melospiza melodia, Song Sparrow|
|Trachemys scripta elegans, Red-eared Slider|
|Trillium cuneatum, Toadshade|
|A boggy area that attracted several Spring Peepers|
|A hollowed out tree|
|Twisted vine climbing a tree trunk.|
This morning I went out for a walk around one of the lakes on the property and found an Eastern Spiny Softshell turtle taking advantage of the sunshine before the rainclouds moved in, it's shell was about 20" long and it was one of the largest softshell turtles I've ever seen and my first Eastern Spiny Softshell.
|Apalone spinifera, Eastern Spiny Softshell|