Songbird Sunday – Connecting with Nature through Birding

White and Black Birds Piercing on Tree Branch

“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.

Shallow Focus Photography of Gray and Orange Bird

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.

B086JX944L

1000 Piece Wooden Puzzle

BENEFITS OF BIRDING

  • Bird watching develops patience. …
  • 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.
Bird Quotes - Quotations about Birds - Famous Quotes - Funny Cartoons

“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:  

0307957896

What it’s Like to be a Bird

  National Geographic Birds

Frozen Waterfalls of Starved Rock

jpeg
jped
jep

Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.

And here are a few other great resources.

168268265X

America’s Best Day Hikes

    Great Hiking Trails of the World

Hike & Go Seek – Castle Rock State Park

 Located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois you will find 2000 acres of rolling topography. Awesome rock formations and ravines abound as well as unique northern plant associations.

Enjoy six miles of trials and you will encounter woodland animals and birds inhabiting the park. Bring your camera!

How did it get it’s name? A sandstone bluff along the river. Castle Rock is a bluff of exposed St. Peter Sandstone from the Middle Ordovician period. Newly exposed sections are white quartz, while older areas have browner tints from the formation of limonite. The bluff is along the axis of the Sandwich Fault Zone, separating Ordovician exposures from those of the Cambrian period.

Castle Rock State Park was one of eleven state parks slated to close indefinitely on November 1, 2008 due to budget cuts by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. After delay, which restored funding for some of the parks, a proposal to close seven state parks and a dozen state historic sites, including Castle Rock, went ahead on November 30, 2008. After the impeachment of Illinois Governor Blagojevich, new governor Pat Quinn reopened the closed state parks in February.  In March 2009 Quinn announced he is committed to reopening the state historic sites by June 30, 2009.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Rock_State_Park_(Illinois)

1732352224

Nature’s Silent Message 

Hike & Go Seek – Orchard Beach State Park

Orchard Beach State Park 3 by Joshua Young.png

 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)  

B07Y3YSCZ9

Free with Prime Watch now

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

B005CRQ4XI

Wild: From Lost to Found

Hike & Go Seek – The Grand Illinois Trail

Image

The Grand Illinois Trail (GIT) is over 535 miles in length and is the longest cycling loop trail in Illinois.  It extends from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi along the northern border of Illinois.   Parts of it are in the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.  The GIT was started in l992 and offers much for riders too.  Since it routes through the prairie state, it contains flat and easy to ride portions through green farmlands and pastoral vistas.  The GIT also gives touring cyclists special glimpses into much of the essence of Illinois like……….Chicago streetscapes  and trails along Lake Michigan; the hilly and picturesque geography of Jo Davies’ County; the mighty Mississippi river itself; Small Town America and medium sized cities and suburbs.

 

There is approximately 200 miles of the trail on paved township and county roads while the rest is on limestone trails or paths.  There is a GIT Trail Guide that was jointly produced by Ride Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that is easily downloadable and helps to promote the use of this beautiful long distance bike route in the state of Illinois.  The guide divides the trail into ten segments each with a map and cue sheet for directions and local features to enjoy along the way.  In the guide you will also find information on lodging, food, camping and bike repair and detailed maps will guide you through areas with many turns.  You can download the GIT map and brochure at www.rideillinois.org.
Each trail section has its own special history and history of development.  Particularly noteworthy is the famous Prairie Path that runs through the western suburbs of Chicago and was the first long rail-trail development in America along with the great Chicago Lakefront trail.  The best long section of the GIT is the southern section along the state canal trails between Joliet and the Quad Cities.   (wiki)

Hike & Go Seek – Copper Harbor

Aerial view of Copper Harbor
Looking for some of the funnest and most scenic trails around Michigan. Copper Harbor is your spot.  It is an all-season resort town in northeastern Keweenaw County, Michigan located on the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior.  Due to its natural environment and surroundings it is a popular tourist destination within the Great Lakes region.
One popular spot for visitors is Hunter’s Island which is the name of a non-hilly point running out from the west into Lake Superior.  It was named for an early settler of the area named Mr. Hunter who owned a tract of land on what is now Hunter’s Point or Hunter’s Island.
Situated at the opening of the harbor itself is the historic Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866, replacing an earlier lighthouse made in 1849.  It is only accessible via a short ride in a compact open vessel from the Copper Harbor marina.  Exhibits inside the lighthouse museum cover both the lighthouse history along with the local shipwreck culture of the area.
Another popular site known as “the most beautiful road in Michigan” is the Brockway Mountain Drive that is an 8.8 mile route that follows the backbone of a 753-foot-high ridge between the towns of Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor and is the highest paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny Mountains to the east.  Constructed during the 30’s, this very picturesque road offers stunning views of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Penisula as well as the archipelago of Isle Royale.

 

B005CRQ4XI

Wild: From Lost to Found

Hike & Go Seek – Isle Royal

Isle Royale shipwrecks Lake Superior.jpg
Located on the Northwest end of Lake Superior near the town of Laurentia, you will find the island called Isle Royale.  It is part of the state of Michigan and along with 450 surrounding islands it makes up the territory called Isle Royale.  This whole cluster of islands is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide covering over 206 miles in total area making it the fourth largest lake island in the world.  In addition, it is the second largest island located in the Great Lakes and the largest natural island in Lake Superior.
Isle Royale is only about 15 miles of the Canadian and Minnesotan shores of the lake.  There are no roads on the island making hiking the main method of movement and transportation.  In Rock Harbor one can find wheeled carts available to move personal belongings  from the Rock Harbor marina to the cabins and hotel.
Isle Royale was given to the United States by the 1783 treaty with Great Britain but the British remained in control of this land until after the War of 1812 and the already settled Ojibwa peoples considered the island to be their territory.  The island was once the site of several lake trout and whitefish fisheries as well as a few resorts but as of today there are no permanent inhabitants.  A major attraction to the island are it’s several shipwrecks located on the western tip making for exciting scuba dives and providing a glimpse into some maritime history of the area.
As for recreational activities one can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching.  Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale such as bicycles or canoe portage devices.  There are many campgrounds to explore with most of them being accessible only by water.  There are two small settlements on the island and they are Rock Harbor (which has a resort, marina and basic amenities) and Windigo, a smaller facility on the far western end of the island.  A typical National Park Service campground will consist of a few shelters (cabin-like structures with one wall of mosquito-proof screen), individual tent sites with a picnic table and group camping sites. There are one or more pit toilets at each facility.  Campgrounds along the shore have a boat dock and overnight boaters are a common sight at the campgrounds.  The waterfront locations also attract many canoeists and kayakers.  Please note that no wells are available so one should plan to bring their own water for the trip.
There are over 170 miles of hiking trails for everything from day hikes to a two week circumnavigation kike with some of the trails having steep grades that are quite challenging. The most popular, best marked and longest single route in the 40 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail that extends down the island’s backbone.  A memorable adventure for the serious hiker.
Just released:

Hiking Captures from the Archives – thewallgalleryblog

As with last weeks post, I have been digging through the archives to find captures that I have not done anything with. That being said, we are jumping back to 2013 in North Bend, Washington. North Bend is on the western side of the Cascade Mountain Range just east of Seattle. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley and is home to numerous hiking trails and some pretty intense ones at that.

Todays captures come from two different trails, the first one is called Little Si and is rated low to intermediate.

I miss the lushness of the Pacific Northwest woods…….

I love the way the sun was shining through the forest canopy on these moss covered boulders.

The next three captures are from the Twin Falls trail. I have shared numerous shots of the falls, but nothing from the trail to get to them.

via Hiking Captures from the Archives — thewallgalleryblog

 

B07BBV73NN

Scratch off map – National Parks