Last Sunday morning I managed to get up early and find Lake Katharine, which is directly south from where I live. Dick Riner mentioned it to me when I visited Bartel Grasslands, so I decided to check it out. It’s part of the Cook County Forest Preserve system. Although it’s surrounded by suburban sprawl, it has a variety of well-managed habitats and I will return.
I started out walking east from the parking lot to take in the prairie/grassland portion. It was overcast and a bit cool so there wasn’t a lot of activity yet, but I was not planning on staying long anyway since I had a cousins’ lunch to attend in the afternoon.
I didn’t manage to visit the Nature Center this time but I will on my next visit. According to the website, Lake Katharine has many educational and volunteer programs in place to get people involved with nature. I was just enjoying the scenery like this huge sunflower and imagining how many goldfinches would be hanging upside down on it as soon as the seeds ripen.
Out of the wildflowers and heading toward the west end of the lake, I walked a path with a wooded area which is where I encountered the Black-Crowned Night Heron at the beginning of the post. It landed in a tree not too far away, but when it saw me it spent time trying to hide behind whatever branches were between us. I guess when he figured out I wasn’t going to leave until I got a picture with all of his head in it, he gave in.
Dragonflies were one reason why I came, but I was able to barely photograph only this one and I don’t know what it is, fledgling dragonfly observer that I am. I don’t think the picture offers enough detail to be absolutely certain.
I’m also soliciting identification of the grass – I gave up after clicking on a list with links to pictures and descriptions of maybe 100 different grasses that occur in Illinois.
When I got to the water and stopped to look, the shallows seemed to be bubbling with life. Occasionally I did see bubbles but for the most part I felt as if I was being watched by a couple hundred eyes from submerged frogs. I am not good at identifying frogs so I have no idea if they were really frogs or my overactive imagination.
Robins are everywhere, busy with their nests and most likely working on a second clutch. I have seen juvenile Robins but this adult felt like posing with a grub. A few robins are still singing a phrase here and there.
I saw the Great Egret before the Caspian Tern. I went around the trail to get a closer look at the egret and started talking with another Dick who was also taking pictures. He works at Lake Katherine and maintains the grounds, which is too huge a task for me to imagine. The tern flew over us as we were talking. According to Dick the tern has been making an appearance daily.
I am going to sleep early so I can get up and join the Evanston North Shore Bird Club’s field trip to Rollins Savanna in Grayslake, Illinois. It will take me an hour to get there, even at 5:30 in the morning. Rollins was on my list of places to visit, I haven’t been there in a couple years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire place, but a four-hour field trip should cover it all and satisfy my curiosity. (Oh, and it’s good for the car to get some exercise beyond running local errands. I need motivation to get up at 3:00 a.m.)