Along the trail at Kokiwanee, along the river, back where the trail heads off to "Frog Falls", there is a wet place where Skunk cabbage dominates in April and May. Actually, the new sprouts from the skunk cabbage start shoving up through the bog in December and January; one of a very few plants in the world that are thermogenic and create their own warmth.
In June and July, the skunk cabbage begins to wilt away and leave a frond of deep red berries above its base. As that is happening, a plant called impatiens" starts to grow up in the bog. To one side of the bog, a plant we've seen in other parts of Kokiwanee, the one that makes cows sick, "White Snake Root", dominates.
But, to my main point: As the impatiens develop their small orange flowers and as the flowers mature, they begin to attract butterflies and bees and wasps and all sorts of feeders.
And, along about now, and up until they have to finally give up and fly south, hummingbirds begin to suck the nectar from the impatiens blooms and show up in numbers for the indulgence; sometimes maybe a dozen hummingbirds, maybe more, may be watched taking nectar from the blooms.
The hummingbirds fly down from a tree, visit several flowers, and zoom back up on a limb for a while, sit there looking around for a while, and then zoom back down to the impatiens flowers.
If one is real still, maybe sits down on the path, behind some vegetation and is somewhat out of sight to the hummingbirds, one can watch the several hummingbirds flit around, eat, chase each other, perch on a tree twig, chirp, fly away up above the cliff maybe, and then back to eat again.
The hummingbirds will be there for several weeks now, fattening up for their long flight south as winter approaches.
It's good to stop along the trails, listen and look and pause to really enjoy and appreciate all of this preserve's nature and Kokiwanee has an amazing diversity.
My kids and I were surprised at what a beautiful hike we found at Mengerson, being in the middle of Fort Wayne. We saw a deer, 'possum, rabbits, and of course, squirrels. It's easy to forget you're in town when you hike here!
It's not often you get the opportunity to hike in February... Our
trip to Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run was fantastic! The water was rushing
and the waterfalls were very active. We even saw a lot of "green!"
Follow my blog as I hike 28 Acres Land Trust Preserves in conjunction with my
Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship!
This past weekend, my husband & I decided to take advantage of a rare free Saturday to take an invigorating winter walk at a local(ish) nature preserve. It was a beautiful day, even if it was only 30 degrees out not counting the wind chill... We'd been to this preserve once before (to take some senior pictures of Jenna our youngest daughter) and we've wanted to go back ever since then to see more of it. It's so peaceful out there. Kokiwanee nature preserve features bluffs along the Salamonie River and streams tumbling down waterfalls to flow into the river, so says the brochure/map.
We took a trail we hadn't been on before (thank you, Phoebe! The German shorthair) and had quite an adventure. It was cold, especially with the brisk wind-- but it didn't take too long to get warmed up "walking" at the pace that Phoebe sets on a walk. That girl loves to hike! This time of year, I have trouble seeing where the trail is with leaves covering everything. Luckily, Phoebe has no trouble finding it, so I just let her follow her nose and we never get lost. (This surprises me. She'll point out every deer trail that crosses the path, but after she's sniffed her fill-- she always continues on the foot path.) The new trail she took us on led to the Salamonie River. After we convinced her we DIDN'T want to take the quick way down the bluff, we found a safer spot to hike down to the water.Phoebe has good ideas. The river was the place to be on this hike. It wasn't long until we saw a bald eagle soaring above the river! We followed it downstream a while until the trail dead ended at one of the park's waterfalls. Very cool!
As we made our way back along the river to where the river path meets another trail, Phoebe made a friend. The little river otter was so cute, and just fascinated by Phoebe! He kept swimming upstream a little ways, and then pokes his head up as he floated back down the river checking Phoebe out. Luckily for us, she's not a barker so she didn't scare him away. (Actually I don't know if we would have even seen him if not for her-- he just kept coming back to check her out. We watched him for probably 10 minutes before he finally got bored and disappeared.)
I think we hiked the rest of the trail with smiles plastered on our faces. It was just such an unexpected treat to see such a thing so close to home. I don't know how many trails we've hiked in the 23 years that we've been married, but this one is my new favorite! We continued on and enjoyed the rest of the trail. There's just nothing that's quite as restful as being out enjoying God's creation. And if seeing the eagle and watching the otter weren't enough to make this trip memorable, as we were leaving we had one more photo opportunity.
I know it's hard to see in photo, but we actually saw MORE eagles on our trip out. At first we only noticed 2 eagles in a tree across the river, about 200 yards away. One of them was actually eating a fish. Next thing I knew, a big brown bird came along and scared that eagle away. Then I realized we were watching a family: mom & dad eagle with 2 younger eagles that didn't have their mature feathers yet!
We were really too far away to get any good photos with our camera, but it was a thrilling experience for me! This is only the second time in my whole life that I've seen bald eagles in the wild. (And apparently it doesn't take much to impress me...) It was a great day! I can't wait for warmer weather so that it will be easier to get outdoors more often! We've already scoped out at least 2 more Acres Land Trust nature preserves that we'd like to go check out next!
"Beautiful, can't wait to visit after a big rain."
Max D. Fraley - Seven Pillars April 7, 2011:
I have a specific request I would appreciate from the Acres LandTrust. Today I mailed in our family membership of $40 plus $60 for other segments of your fine organization. Last October, 2010, my wife and five adult children and six grandchildren visited and treked the pathways of your facility / property across from the Seven Pillars on the Mississinewa River near Peru, Indiana. There was a specific reason for that visitation.
Approximately twenty years ago and after the passing of my father, J.E. "Chuck" Fraley of Converse, Indiana, my brother, Jim Fraley of Ft. Wayne, and I sought out ACRES for the possible purchase of his ranch named "The Ranch of the Seven Pillars". To honor our father, who loved and knew every little inch of the property, we hoped to sell to someone or an agency who would take good care of it and keep it as Mother Nature would approve. Enter ACRES LandTrust as the new owner of the ranch.
A long story told in a short manner explains that our older three children have many wonderful memories of their many escapes to a wonderland filled with the glories of God. Their grandparents took them their many times for periods of pure pleasure. We moved from Indiana to California in 1958, but our many return trips never involved our entire family. Our journey in October was the first time all five children and the grandchildren have ever been able to be together on their Grandpa's ranch, and the recollection of those priceless times has become a permanent mural in their minds.
Your Winter 2011 edition of "Acres Quarterly" has a beautiful artist rendering of the seven Indian caves across the river from the ranch. I would appreciate if you could send me 10-15 copies of that issue to share with my family members. I fully understand it may not be possible, but if it is I am indebted to you. I will be glad to pay the postage and whatever costs your agency would incur.
Kokiwanee - this would be the best weekend to visit Kokiwanee for wildflowers. The river trail has an abundance of variety, even ones that should not be blooming yet. Redbud trees on the horse arena trail are in full bloom.
Wildwood - triliums are in full bloom, bluebells,violets,starting to sight a few more birds.
Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run takes on a whole new beauty in the winter. Thank you for preserving these beautiful places!
Heather Baker at Dustin NP, Huntertown IN 12/28/2009:
Our daily lunchtime visitor!
Jeff Beck 10/25:
I love this property! Today was just perfect. Pleasant temps, sunshine, golden color everywhere we looked. Noted a few interesting fungi, asters, small mammals moving about, and a whole lot of quiet!
Photo by Jeff Beck
Tim at Kokiwanee 11/14:
Well, all the leaves are down and the yellowing leaves of violets, Virginia creeper and wild ginger are poking through the golden carpet. Before the cold and snow comes, it's still a great time to walk the trails and appreciate the distant hills and ravines that had been hidden by the foliage through the summer. Right now I can stand in the Tailwaters parking lot and look north to see our Kissing Falls, then turn around and look south across the Salamonie River and see her twin, the falls at Hominy Ridge in the state forest.Kokiwanee 11/1:
Ron and Judy Green at Asherwood 11/4: Tim's note: Ron Green, Mississinewa Audubon Club, took pictures of a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a red-bellied woodpecker during the group's outing to Asherwood Nature Preserve in Wabash County. Judy reports a brown creeper was also seen.
Tim at Tel-Hy 10/22:
Wow! This weekend was perfect for a drive in the country with all the bright reds and yellows. Leaves are past their peak over at Kokiwanee, but here at Tel-Hy they are still an eye-popping feast of yellows and golds. Note: a couple of the trails are now lined with logs and branches to keep you from getting lost. Enjoy!
Steve at Dustin 10/19:
For those of you who were listening to the unknown bird on the deck at Dustins tonight – I listened to the bird calls CD and it sure seems like the calls we were hearing were for a Great Blue Heron. Now, if somebody can figure out why it was making those sounds, we'll be sittin' pretty!
Brad at Wing Haven 10/10:
The first Red-breasted Nuthatch and Dark-eyed Juncos made their appearance today at Wing Haven. Several flocks of White-throated Sparrows can be seen along the woodland edges. A few are singing too!
Fringed Gentian is in flower now along the gentian lake shore, but it takes a sharp eye to find them in the appropriate habitat. If you look for them, watch out from above, paw paws are a-falling!
Cub Scout Pack 3171 of Waterloo, Indiana at the Fogwell Forest fungus hike 10/1: Tim's note: The scouts were an enthusiastic part of the fungus hike, and we were sorry they had to leave early for another activity. Den leader Matt Lennon sent in some of the picture phone images, taken during their visit, which show the huge variety of fungi they saw: