This morning I resolved on an early bike ride before the heat of the day settled in. It was off to the Shooting Star trail passing through Lake Louise State Park. I've taken this trail several times in the last few weeks. It has much to recommend it. Beautiful prairie wildflowers, deep woods, birds and most of all.... IT'S FLAT!So binocs around my neck, point and shoot camera in my pocket, I headed west away from the rising sun. Last week, I took the same ten mile route with Joanne G while Mrs T. and Joanne's husband John picked us up at the end of the trail.
There were several somewhat exotic but potentially helpful prairie sunflowers along the way. The Cupplant's inverted leaves hold emergency supplies of rainwater in their inverted cupped leaves. Also, the very tall Compass Plant, a sunflower, has large leaves that oriente themselves on a north south axis thus helping lost pioneers or bikers find the way home.
More delicate plants along the way included: Hoary Vervain,
and the ever popular purple coneflowers. On the evening Joanne and I had biked the trail, I noticed some flooded soybean fields along the way. Without my binocs I was unable to determine what the shorebirds were as we passed by. This time I came prepared. Although the extent of the water had shrunk drastically since the previous week, some birds were still there going about their business. To no great surprise, there were a number of killdeer, but then I noticed several larger waders.
Shorebirds are quite uncommon in the southeast counties away from the Mississippi. We have few lakes, and the wetlands have, unfortunately, been mostly drained away. I wasn't quite sure I was seeing a Yellowlegs or what kind of sandpipers, so I left my bike behind and began stalking them , camera in hand.
A Lesser Yellowlegs, for sure. And nearby were several Least Sandpipers scurrying about in the grass. Methinks, one of these days, I may concede the point and invest in one of those highpowered cameras where you can count each feather on the bird. In the meantime though biking and birding, exercising and checking out the wildflowers sure is fun. Hope you enjoyed the ride!