Day Three Hundred Sixty-two

Winter Takes a Welcome Break

We had a second consecutive day of unusually warm temperatures and bright sun today. Thank goodness too; we needed it after the cold, harsh winter we’ve had so far this year.

I did have a little trouble deciding where to walk. We didn’t have a big block of time, so we couldn’t travel far. Also, I did not need another fall this week so I wanted to avoid slushy, slippery snow-covered trails; I needed a plowed paved trail. I chose to go back to Frankfort Square’s Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park. My husband, daughter, and youngest son joined me.

Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park

I really like this neighborhood park (and not only because it’s plowed). It has a small lake and wetlands with a boardwalk through it. I’ve seen numerous birds each time I’ve visited. Today was no exception.

Indian Boundary Songbirds1I especially enjoyed the two hawks that circled for about half the time we were walking. When one flew directly overhead, I was glad I had my camera ready, because this hawk put on a show.

IMG_2541We had such a nice walk today. I am so thankful to have had such a beautiful day for one of the final walks of my 2013 resolution.

Day Three Hundred Forty-three

Wind Chill and Photogenic Sparrows

Over the years, I’ve wondered how weather forecasters come up with those wind chill numbers that are included in our coldest winter forecasts. Obviously, the more wind, the lower the wind chill number, but there must be more to it than that, so today I looked it up. It was even more complicated than I had figured. Weather folk have been tinkering with this formula for years, and the National Weather Service reissued the following, currently used, formula in 2001:

T(wc) = 35.74 + 0.6215T – 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16)

(with T=temperature in º F and V=velocity of wind in miles/hour.)

It seems that a “feel” temperature formula might be as much an art as it is a science, but I certainly did feel today’s T(wc) of 5º!

I had found a great place to walk and bird watch but had to cut it short because even though I was bundled up, today’s wind made my eyes water and today’s temperature made my face hurt.

IMG_2252

I visited Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park in Frankfort Square, Illinois. The Frankfort Square Park District has done a really nice job with this park (also the location of their district headquarters). They have made this pond, flood prevention, and water run-off site quite lovely with a boardwalk through the marsh and signage describing plants and wildlife in the area. There is also a paved path around the marsh that continues and connects with other parks in town.

Indian PrairieI could hear the songbirds as I approached the boardwalk. Juncos and small sparrows (swamp sparrows, I think) were flitting about, and a hawk circled overhead. I wish I could have been more patient when photographing all of the birds; it was a great day to take pictures, but for the temperature.

Indian Prairie birdsI guess I’ll just have to go back when it “feels” more like it’s above T(wc) 15º!

Day Two Hundred Twenty-one

Heron Haven

We went back to a favorite spot on a favorite trail–the Old Plank Road Trail between I-57 and Ridgeland Avenue. This part of the trail runs through an Illinois Nature Preserve and marsh. Last summer we biked through this area a few times, and this marsh was almost completely dry due to drought. We were glad to see the water back this summer and all of the water birds that flock to it.

Heron Heaven 1After seeing, but not identifying, a smaller heron last week, I was really hoping to see one today and brought the binoculars and camera, just in case. We spotted a snowy egret first and then a couple of great blue herons.

We had just about given up hope when I saw something to the north of the trail, and my husband saw something to the south. Both were green herons. They are quite colorful with their reddish-brown necks, but not really all that green!

Heron Heaven 2Now I’m getting greedy; I want to see some of the other small herons that are in the region!

IMG_0867On the way back to the car, I couldn’t resist taking yet another picture the I-57 overpass. Behold the colors of summer!

IMG_0876Good day, good walk!