Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flora & Fauna at Prophetstown State Park

Hi all -- Dianne here.  Some of you might find this blog about as exciting as the one about washing hairbrushes, but for those of you who like flowers and critters, here's a sampling of what we've seen on our hikes at Prophetstown State Park this week.

We don't always put up our tiki lights, but we were in such a good mood when we arrived here (free at last), that to celebrate, Roger strung our colored lights from the blue spruce trees at our site.  Almost immediately after turning them on, a hummingbird showed up to check out the red colored lights, looking for dinner!   Right away I went inside and got out my hummingbird feeder.  The hummingbirds found it immediately, and ever since that first day we've enjoyed the jockeying for position at the bird feeder.  They are territorial little critters!   Since there is only one species of hummingbird in Indiana, we know that these are ruby throated hummingbirds.  This one is a female, so no red throat.

The hiking trails here at Prophetstown are different than those at the other state parks in Indiana.  Instead of dense woods, the trails wind through tall grass prairie that has been reintroduced to this area.   This area of Indiana was the eastern edge of the tall grass prairies that extended west into Kansas.

 The hiking trail also goes along and through a fen (different than a swamp because it's alkaline from the bedrock below).  

To maintain the prairie grass here at the park, they do periodic burnings.  As we arrived with the motorhome we could see huge fires way from a distance and wondered "what the heck," only to discover they were controlled burns.  During our hike a few days later, we saw a small burn going on.  As we continued to hike, we passed by and through some of the recently burned areas and could see the new sprouts already coming up in the charred areas.

We often think of late summer as "ugly" because the spring flowers are done and gone.  Here's a slideshow to prove that beauty can still be found if you take a hike!

There's a large, grassy area next to our camp site that's a favorite hangout for rabbits.  So far, Jasper and Chaplin have not noticed them.

We saw so many butterflies on our hike that it became a game to try to photograph them (it's hard!).  This guy looked as big as the hummingbirds.

Here's a tiger swallowtail (above), and a monarch (below).

Check back soon for a blog entry on our trip last evening to nearby Wolf Park.  If you've never seen a wolf or heard one howl, you'll enjoy that one!

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