Tag Archive | Spring Valley Nature Center

Frog Soup

The color for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is lime or light green and since I was hoping for an opportunity to share the following pictures this seemed like the ideal time, even though they may not strictly be considered that exact shade.


On a still and steamy day at the tail end of August, the turbid waters of the pond at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg resembled nothing so much as frog soup. Everywhere you looked there were hundreds of these curious little creatures, peering out of the water or perching on lily pads.


There has always been a special place in my affections for these little guys. They have kept me company during many peaceful moments at the water’s edge in various nature centers, gardens and parks. There’s something very companionable about spending time with a frog, both of us sitting there thinking our own thoughts.


“What is this woman doing???  She’s been sitting here for ages, just watching! I don’t think she’s a threat but every once in a while that shiny thing she’s holding gives off a flash of light that, I have to say, is a bit disconcerting. Any of you chaps know who she is?  No, well just ignore her. Perhaps she’ll go away.”

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Lime or Light Green.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Twisted in the Wood

There is something incredibly beautiful and dramatic about trees unadorned by their leaves, especially when they are gnarled and twisted with age.  Twisted in Arches National Park, Utah.

Twisted driftwood on the sands at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

Twisted in springtime at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.


Twisted in autumn at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.  The clouds seem to mirror the contortions of the branches.


For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Twisted

Is It Spring Yet?

I thought it was, a couple of weeks ago, when I was walking through Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. The snowdrops were in bloom, birds were singing and everything looked poised, ready to leap into action but apparently Mother Nature had other ideas as evidenced by a thin film of ice on the outer edges of the lake when I visited there yesterday.

I thought the patterns in the ice would make an interesting picture so I balanced precariously on the edge of the observation deck in a chilly wind to capture these images.

There were several school groups visiting the Center while I was there and while I’m absolutely delighted to see the younger generation getting healthy exercise in the fresh air and looking at something other than their tablets and smartphones, it doesn’t bode well for spotting any kind of wildlife that’s easily scared off by the sound of about 50 screaming kids.  However, it didn’t deter a flock of chickadees that were flitting back and forth among the trees down by the creek.

As many of you are aware, I have a  life-long fear of birds which is a bit of a handicap when I’m out on these nature rambles, but a long lens is an extremely useful tool which makes such pictures possible. It certainly came in handy when I got to the tall trees by the farm where a woodpecker was bashing away at the bark at the very top, next to what appeared to be its nest. This supposition was confirmed when a second bird arrived.

Moving on to the farm, there didn’t seem to be much activity. Even the horse had decided it was too cold to venture outside and gazed morosely back at me from the barn door, as though it was somehow my fault that the weather had taken a downturn.

I was so busy looking at the horse that I was almost taken by surprise by a ruthless gang of chickens. They are my worst nightmare! When I was much younger, I tried to conquer my fear of birds by going into a hen house to collect some eggs.  The results were disastrous, for me and the eggs as I ran screaming back to the farmhouse.

I backed away as the last, a beady-eyed thug, made straight towards me and, with a final click of the camera, I beat a hasty retreat down the path, passing a robin busy looking for its next meal.

The weather forecast doesn’t offer much improvement for the coming week, with rain and chilly temperatures being the recurring theme for our area so it may be a while before I venture into the Valley again.

Spring in the Valley

I went for my first walk around Spring Valley this year the other day. The sun was shining and although it was still chilly, there were definite signs that spring is in the air. The lake is no longer frozen and although there aren’t any leaves on the trees yet, they look as though they are getting ready to burst into life.

With all the rain that we’ve had just recently, the little creek was fairly rushing along. I could hear it even before reaching the bend in the path.  Add to that the shrill trilling of red-wing blackbirds and the unmistakable sound of a large flock of geese flying high overhead and it seemed like spring really was a reality and not just something that we keep wishing for.

The animals at the farm were outside enjoying the unexpected warmth.  They’ll back in the barn next week if the weather forecast is anything to go by.

Because of recent rains, many of the trails and paths were flooded or exceedingly muddy but fortunately the farm is on high ground so I managed to get there without getting my feet too wet. I returned the same way, just to be on the safe side.

After visiting Volkening Farm, I went in search of the one thing that I knew would be a sure sign that spring was on its way.  Down by the old Redeker Cabin I found them. Snowdrops, only just in bloom but a welcome sight.

Further down the trail I came across something that must be a new addition to the Nature Center. This little area is called a Natural Play Pocket that encourages children to play and create things from the natural materials available. Someone had evidently been very busy.  The sign at the entrance says that children should be permitted to create and build with minimal adult input but wisely adds that adults DO need to supervise.

A Good Day At Spring Valley

Because it was Columbus Day, school was out and the weather was gorgeous, Spring Valley Nature Center was packed!  The new recreation area was full of super-excited children, happy to have at least one more opportunity to play outside in shorts and sandals.  I was pleased to see, too, that parents were encouraging their families to not only enjoy the slides and climbing frames but to go exploring the rest of the nature center.  Great for them but not so good for someone who is hoping to do some wildlife photography.  Screaming youngsters and timid woodland creatures unfortunately don’t make for a good mix.  However, I had all day and waited patiently for the rare quiet moments when I was able to get a few shots.

Any day at Spring Valley is a good day.

How Green Was My Spring Valley

It’s been a while since I last visited Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and there have been some changes which were noticeable as soon as I arrived.  There is a new children’s playground complete with slides, climbing areas and waterfalls where the kids can have a great time.  I just hope the parents don’t forego the opportunity of taking them around the rest of the facility to see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer, like flowers, animals, birds and other living, breathing things.  There is also a new pond that has been created nearby although it appears to be a work in progress.

With all the rain we’ve had just lately it wasn’t surprising that the place looked so lush and green. I love walking around here! Apart from the forest preserves, this is the closest thing we have to ‘being in the country.’ I think it would be impossible to count all the different plants that flourish in Spring Valley.

The water in the lake was quite high and covered with water lilies which made ideal resting and hiding places for the frogs. Underneath the surface it was teeming with life as frogs, fish and turtles, in a frenzy of activity, made hundreds of little waves in the water.

 

I was pleased to see that the Kid’s Garden was flourishing, with plenty of flowers and vegetables on display.  I think it’s so important to encourage children to take an interest in nature and that is just what the people at Spring Valley are doing so ably.  After all, the future of our world and the environment is in the hands of generations to come. In these troubling times, it would be a sad thing indeed if we did not make the effort to teach them to understand and respect nature and each other.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Spring/Wood

After the recent spate of b/w photography it’s nice to get back to some colorful images with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge which this week focuses on spring/wood.  The photo files are bursting at the seams with spring pics but I thought I would keep to three different venues that have provided some great opportunities for photographing this seasonal subject.

 

What better place to start our spring tour than in the woods at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. These pictures were taken last year but it won’t be long before the daffodils are blooming among the trees once again.

Our next stop is at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.  A wonderful place to visit at any time of year, the Garden looks especially pretty in its spring colors.

On a more rustic note, our last port of call is at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/28/cees-fun-foto-challenge-spring-wood/