Watching Eagles Soar

It would have been enough just to be outdoors again; instead, it was breathtaking.

After several days stuck inside, preoccupied by extreme weather concerns like a dying car battery, a nagging lack of proper home insulation, and a special-order furnace filter further delayed by snow, we were really ready for an outing. So when the weather improved, we mapped out a great one.

I’ve known about the bald eagles that winter at Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River, and I have always wanted to go see them. This year I read about additional bald eagle sightings along the Fox River which is closer and bound to be less crowded. So even though a sighting seemed less guaranteed, we decided to drive to Oswego, Illinois, and walk on the Fox River Trail. Since we’ve walked on a different portion of this trail before, I figured we’d enjoy the walk, but to be honest, I really never thought we’d see any eagles.

We actually saw two–a splotchy juvenile and an adult. We were thrilled.

Watching them majestically soar high overhead gave me chills.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Joy on the Trail

Joy!

When I read The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week, I pictured walking behind my son when we first set out on a quiet trail. As I’ve written before, this daily walk resolution of mine has been such a blessing: we’ve found something enjoyable that we can do with our youngest son, fourteen and on the autism spectrum.

He is so happy to be outside walking that he often takes off skipping for the first few hundred yards. He eventually slows down and we catch up, but I loved to capture those first joyful steps throughout this year of walking.

It is this joy that will keep us walking beyond 2013.

My son, joyfully swinging off in the distance, while I continued walking the loop at a local park in July.

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-seven

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Much Better!

My walking heart soared when the meteorologist promised this morning that today’s weather would be much better than the “brutality” of the past few days.

I went back to Frankfort Square, Illinois, and walked a different portion of the Island Prairie and Indian Boundary Park. This is the third time I’ve walked here this week because I love all of the songbirds and appreciate that the paved path is plowed!

Island Prairie-Indian Boundary SouthIt was so nice to be back outside and enjoying it!

Day Three Hundred Forty-two

IMG_2238Snow, but Alas, No Owls.

A week ago, we randomly picked a trail using the Google Maps bicycle overlay and ended up seeing two great horned owls and an American kestrel atop a streetlamp.

We went back to the same area today, shortly before dusk again, in hopes of seeing those owls. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any owls or kestrels, but did explore an additional trail along Hickory Creek and saw an old bridge to nowhere.

Franfort Square SnowI shouldn’t say the bridge led to nowhere, but it was blocked off on the opposite side, with plenty of private property signs posted. It made us curious about the history of the property and the bridge because so much of the area is new housing development.

Good walk, but I’m ready for some warmer weather to finish off my 2013 resolution!

Day Three Hundred Thirty-eight

A December Community Garden

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After feeling a little guilty for my negativity about yesterday’s walk in Olympia Fields, Illinois, I decided to go back to another spot in Olympia Fields where I walked once this summer. I really enjoyed my walk that day and again today.

I walked a couple of times around the loop at the new Tolentine Park. I love this park. There is so much here for the space (it’s not especially large). In addition to a walking trail around the park, it has a play area, a splash pad, a basketball court, and a quiet sitting area. What I love most about this park though is the community garden. Every time I drove by this park this summer, folks were working in their gardens. I used to think that community gardens were just for people who didn’t have a space to garden. I’ve recently realized that there’s more to it:  gardening in an awfully solitary activity; community gardens allow gardeners to garden with others.

Today, I found the remnants of this summer’s bounty fascinating.

Tolentine ParkGood walk!

Day Three Hundred Thirty-four

Back to Cranberry Slough

Back on Day 320, my husband had a meeting and was unable to join us on a walk around Cranberry Slough, part of the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve near Palos Park, Illinois. Since my husband and middle son, home for Thanksgiving weekend, would be joining me today, I thought they would enjoy the unusual topography and great views, and we headed back.

Cranberry Slough1Unfortunately, in the two weeks since the last time we were here, the remainder of the leaves have fallen or turned the dull brown of late fall. But on a positive note, the full sun, low in the sky, gave us some great lighting for a family walk through the woods.Cranberry Slough 2I have only one month to go on my walking resolution! My 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, remains yet unseen. We did see some large square holes in dead trees near the trail, and I wonder if it could mean that there have been some in these woods . . .

Good walk!