Prairie dogs are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five species are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in North America. In Mexico, prairie dogs are found primarily in the northern states, which lie at the southern end of the Great Plains: northeastern Sonora, north and northeastern Chihuahua, northern Coahuila, northern Nuevo León, and northern Tamaulipas. In the United States, they range primarily to the west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales. They are also found in the Canadian Prairies. Despite the name, they are not actually canines. These two that I took a picture of are from South Dakota.
Highly social, prairie dogs live in large colonies or “towns” and collections of prairie dog families that can span hundreds of acres. The prairie dog family groups are the most basic units of its society. Members of a family group inhabit the same territory. Family groups of black-tailed and Mexican prairie dogs are called “coteries”, while “clans” are used to describe family groups of white-tailed, Gunnison’s, and Utah prairie dogs. Although these two family groups are similar, coteries tend to be more closely knit than clans. Members of a family group interact through oral contact or “kissing” and grooming one another. They do not perform these behaviors with prairie dogs from other family groups. (wiki/prairie_dog)
Love sand and hiking on packed sandy paths? Indiana Dunes National Park, designated as the nation’s 61st national park is located in Northwestern Indiana along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. The park runs for nearly 25 miles alongside of Lake Michigan containing approximately 15,000 acres where you will find sand dunes, wetland, river, prairie and forest ecosystems. The Park is host to a wide variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoons, opossums, cottontail rabbits, various rodents, Canada geese, gulls, squirrels, hawks, turkey vultures , mallards, great blue herons, songbirds and garter snakes.
There are nine different diverse trails to explore!
* Paul H. Douglas Trail
* Tolleston Dune Trail
* Succession Trail.
* Bailly-Chellberg Trail.
* Little Calumet River Trail.
* Cowles Bog Trail.
* Calumet Dune Trail
* Glenwood Dune Horse and Hiking Trail
The Indiana Dunes has over 369 species of flowering plants of which thirteen are considered threatened or in danger of extinction. In addition, there are four invasive flowering plants on the list. Some of the more common spring flowers you will find include the May apple, 6 varieties of buttercups, and violets (14 types). During the Summer months orchids( 5 types) and lots of goldenrods (11 types) can be found.
For your first visit to the park, it is highly recommended that you visit the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center located at U.S. Route 20 and Indiana Route 49 near Porter, Indiana. The center offers standard visitor-center amenities including a video, brochures, hands-on exhibits and a gift shop. It is free to the general public.
If you like to camp…..check out the Dunewood Campground located on U.S. Route 12 which includes two loops of trailer accessible sites and a RV dump station. All sites have grills, a picnic table and access to restrooms with running water and showers. There are also a limited number of camp sites at the neighboring Douglas Loop. The park provides for 45 miles of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Cycling is available on the Calumet Trail which is a crushed limestone multi-use trail that runs through the eastern section of the park. With all the things to see and do here, the park will draw over 2 million visitors each year.
The Voyageur Hiking Trail runs between Sudbury and Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario, Canada. It is a public hiking trail whose name honors the European fur traders of the region who travelled the area mostly by canoe and were known as “voyageurs” (runners of the woods). Used by all ages and levels of experience, the trail is used by day hikers to the serious hardy backpackers.
The hiking trail crosses the vast privately and publicly owned forests of this rugged wilderness. Over half of the linear trail has been completed plus numerous side trails. Sault Ste. Marie is the largest city on the completed trail and is located between two of the Great Lakes………….Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The route runs alongside these two great bodies of water frequently touching the shoreline. Many other communities through which the trail passes include Elliot Lake, Iron Bridge, Wawa, Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Rossport and Nipigon.
You can refer to a trail guidebook that provides trail users with all of the up-to-date maps and descriptions of the available trails. In addition, digital maps can be downloaded to GPS units for on-trail navigation. Many trail users participate in Geocaching and the number of geocaches that can be found along the trail is continually increasing.
The Voyageur Trail is a pedestrian trail only….meaning that it is made for hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and bushwhack skiing. In most places, the trail is too rough for other uses. You will find fallen trees that lie across the path where your only choice is to climb over them. You will cross streams on beaver dams, rocks or logs. And the trail is advertised as a “true wilderness trail” because there are no facilities along the Voyageur Trail. Regardless of your physical condition you can expect to do approximately two kilometers per hour on the trail so plan your outing taking this into account. Some hikers have described it as “bushwhacking with blazes” and in some areas of the trail this description is true. (wiki)
Iowa is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states: Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east and southeast,Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest, and Minnesota to the north.
Iowa’s bedrock geology generally decreases in age from east to west. In northwest Iowa, Cretaceous bedrock can be 74 million years old; in eastern Iowa Cambrian bedrock dates to c. 500 million years ago.
Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Iowa can be divided into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. Northeast Iowa along the Upper Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Area, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous.
To the east lies Clear Lake. Man-made lakes include Lake Odessa, Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Coralville Lake, Lake MacBride, and Rathbun Lake. Before European settlement, 4 to 6 million acres of the state was covered with wetlands, about 95% of these wetlands have been drained,
The Blue Water River Walk is a one mile stretch of land that runs along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan. It has it’s own unique naturalized shoreline that is made up from natural rocks, pebbles and boulders while also consisting of many native plants, flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in their own natural landscape and habitat onshore. The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.
A very unique and noticeably different feature of the new St. Clair river shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge boulder and stone structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These are huge offshore reefs that extend downwards almost 15 feet into the river bottom. These large boulders weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and are resting on two other layers…recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.
Perhaps the most striking different aspect of the new St. Clair River shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge stone and boulder structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These huge offshore reefs extend down almost 15 feet into the river bottom. The large boulders seen on the surface weigh as much as 4,000 pounds. They are resting on two other layers; recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together, over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.
These offshore reefs are a critical element to the overall naturalization of the St. Clair River shoreline. The reefs are there to serve two purposes: first, they help to knock down the incredibly strong wave energy caused by passing boats and if left unchecked those waves can create serious damage and erosion to the new shoreline. Secondly, they create new shallow water habitats between the reefs and the shoreline which is critical to the growth and development of small fish, reptiles and amphibians.
All around, you’ll find nothing but grassy prairie to the edge of the sky at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, north of Strong City. The preserve protects a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Of the 400,000 square miles of tallgrass prairie that once covered the North American continent, less than 4% remains, primarily in the Flint Hills. Since 2009, the preserve has been home to the growing Tallgrass Prairie bison herd.
The Nature Conservancy work toward preservation of the tallgrass prairie, while sharing the story of ranching legacy, American Indian history, and the diverse tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills of Kansas.
Here you will find nature everywhere, from little fawns to a myriad of bird varieties from the Kentucky Wabler to the Bald Eagle.
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails. The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway Company. The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921. The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet. In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines. In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction. The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff. High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan. As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground. (wiki)
“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become park of the silence” – Robert Lund
A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago. A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.
The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late 18th century in the works of Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick, George Montagu and John Clare The study of birds and natural history in general became increasingly prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era, often associated with collection, eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began in Britain.
Bird watching will get your children to go outside. …
Bird watching allows for introspection and contemplation. …
Bird watching can improve cardiovascular health. …
Bird watching gives you an excuse to travel. …
Bird watching builds a sense of community. …
Bird watching quickens reflexes.
“I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes” – Charles Lindbergh
Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom and later Roger Tory Peterson. Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.
Here are some great resources if you like birding: