Influences

Recognition should be given to all those who have gone before; family members, friends, and others that may have influenced me in their own quiet way.

Special recogition should go to my father Kenneth (Kenny to all who knew him) and my grandfathers Selby and Chester (Jake), both born in the 1890s. All of these gentlemen influenced me in their own way...with time fishing, hunting, trapping, or just time spent togeher.....







Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Exploring New Territories

We moved to the Peoria, Illinois area earlier this year. I have been enjoying learning about my  new home area and exploring the Illinois River valley and surrounding area.  These are just a few pictures from a bit of hiking I have done.


Early morning view as I began my hike.




I stopped along here to investigate and photograph a few nice Ginseng plants; then looked ahead to this view on the trail.

A very nice Ginseng plants along the trail.


Spiderwort in blossom.






Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beavers - Nature's Civil Engineers

I can remember a time in my area, when Beavers were almost non-existent. In the last 30 years though, their numbers have rapidly increased. It is now very common to see remains of their activities....cut trees, well worn trails down into the water, and corn fields near the streams with large sections of corn completely wiped out. I was quite surprised a few years ago when I first came across a corn field with evidence of the Beaver's activity.

The above is not meant as a condemnation of the Beaver. I am happy to see their return. In my lifetime, the White Tail Deer, Turkey, River Otter, and Bald Eagles have also returned to my area.

I have numerous pictures in older posts in this blog, showing Beaver activity.

Following are a few recent pictures. For any new visitors; if you click the picture, you can see it full size.

Our streams have been quite low since late summer. Hiking along the Middlefork River, the other day, I was surprised to see a Beaver dam the full width of the river. I have seen lots of dams on smaller streams, but this is only the second I have witnessed on this river, and this one is the longest.

In this first picture, taken from downstream far enough to show it all; you can see how shallow the water is on the down stream side and the pool of water behind the dam.


The dam is perhaps only about 2 feet high, but creates a nice pool for quite a distance upstream. Here you can see my dog Emma swimming through the "reservoir" toward the dam.







The dam construction is very sturdy. The expected material is there; branches from trees they have cut and in addition there are corn stalks from a nearby field. I was surprised at the large numbers of rocks that were used on this dam. That section of stream is full of rocks and the Beavers took full advantage of that resource. It would be really interesting to witness a dam construction and in particular the placement of those rocks.



The following two pictures were taken at a different location; in a marsh about a mile from the dam. I went there in the evening, sat on the bank, and was able to see several Beavers swimming about. I took several pictures in the evening light, including the one of the large splash made by a Beaver when it submerges quickly, sensing danger.



As always, thank you so much for stopping by! Feel free to share this blog with anyone you feel might enjoy it. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Plants - Edible, Medicinal, Tea

We are fully into the Fall season now; and have recently had temperatures below freezing. Now is the time to get out and gather any plants that you want to stock up on over the winter.

I went out a few days ago, nice and sunny, just a bit cool; and quite comfortable with a light jacket.

I searched an area along a small stream for some Ginseng; that I knew grew there. I did not plan to harvest it, but was just curious if it the plant was still living. I did find one of the smaller plants, that has finished it's yearly cycle. There were other larger plants nearby the last time I was through there, that have probably already died off for the year, but it is possible that someone dug those up, even though it is prohibited on that piece of property.


Here is a bunch of Golden Rod that I gathered a couple of weeks ago. It has now dried and I need to pull the leaves off and store it. I use this for a tea, whenever I have a cold, sore throat, etc. ....sometimes just to have a cup. Whenever you make tea from any plant, just experiment to get the strength you prefer. Goldenrod tea can be quite bitter if too strong.

Dandelion is quite hardy and is still about for picking. It has been a while, but I have picked cooked and eaten the leaves. My mother used to gather these regularly. Although I have never done so, I have read that the root can be dried, ground up, and used a coffee substitute, of course caffeine free.


Late season Dock; another edible. I am not sure which variety of Dock this is, so feel free to identify it if you know. Again, with this plant, I have not done so, but have read that the root is edible....please do your own research. I did not notice till posting this picture, but it looks like Wild Strawberry plants growing around ti.

A plant many are familiar with and that I have posted regarding before; Mullein. I sometimes make a tea from this plant also when I have a cold. It is a strong tasting tea, and I prefer it with honey. Some people also smoke the leaves for the same properties that I use the tea for; but I have never done so. The plant shown, is a first year plant. During it's second year, it will grow several feet tall, with a sturdy stalk that is topped by a long yellow blossom. Look elsewhere in my blog for mature plants.

This is a late season Canadian Fleabane plant; useful for digestive problems. Not the best pictures to identify this, but when you know this plant, it is very easy to spot. This plant, the Mullein, Dock, and Dandelion were all in or around the edge of my yard.



Another plant that I always gather this time of year, and have posted regarding in the past also; is Blackberry leaves. They are now turning red and about ready to drop to the ground. I make tea from these, and it has become just about my very favorite tea. It has a great taste! It is a nice relaxing drink. For my hikes and outings in the fall and winter, it is not uncommon for me to take along a small thermos of this to drink.
If gathering this, I recommend using leather gloves, as there are many thorns to give you cuts if you use your bare hands. I have done so without gloves, but it has to be done slowly and carefully.

This is Spicebush; a small undergrowth bush, that I have just recently become familiar with. There was a nice post regarding it on Paleoplanet, that lead to my interest and investigation and I found that it is quite common in my area. The berries are edible, but I did not find them to be that flavorful. They did leave a spicy after taste in my mouth. Some people use the berries as an additive to some food for flavoring. I was also informed that the leaves can be cooked and eaten...again I have just discovered this plant and have not tried that.




Multiflora Rose Hips.....These are a great source of vitamin C. I picked a hand full of these and snacked on them during a hike a few days ago.



Wild Grapes that I came across while hiking the edge of a field near the river. Early in the season, these are very tart tasting, but now when they are ready to drop to the ground, they are nice and sweet tasting. I picked a couple of bunches of these to eat as I hiked and I also picked more and took home with me.




A couple of pictures of the area I was in where some of the above pictures were taken.



Thanks for stopping by! ............now time for me to get my work day underway!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bald Eagles

Perhaps in your area; Bald Eagles are a common sight. Where I live; in Danville, Illinois; they are making a come back, but still not an everyday sight. Last winter, I spotted what I recognized to be a Bald Eagle nest. If not for the absence of leaves on the trees, I likely would not have seen it.

I went back to that area several times and in April was rewarded to see that the nest was occupied. I continued going back and taking pictures until sometime in June, when the nest was again vacant. I hope to catch them there again next spring.

Following are pictures I took this spring.


The parents.....


One of the eaglets in April. There were only two as far as I could tell.


A parent cruising the area. I learned that the female is the larger bird.



The nest in a Sycamore tree at edge of river.


The male perched in what came to be a common spot for me to see him. The parents tolerated my presence without much concern. That section of the river is busy with canoes and kayaks, so that may have let them be used to people; although any I see elsewhere, fly away as soon as they spot me.

I came to recognize that the male was the one normally watching the nest whenever I was there. Here he is leaping off a branch and starting flight.


Trying to stay perched on a very windy day!


May 17...the babies are growing.


June 10....the babies are much bigger. This was the last time I saw them at the nest.






Taking flight from the tree limb below it....

 ....banking into a turn....


.........and flying away....







I had a really great time watching this family of eagles and hope to have the privilege to do so next spring.

Thanks for stopping by..........and enjoy the nature in your area....