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Category Archives: Prairie Smoke

Currently the Wild Lupine and Prairie Smoke are blooming at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area.

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It has been a while since I’ve been out to Hoffman Hills. There is not a lot going on right now. The Prairie Smoke and the Wild Lupine are blooming but that is about it. The Geese are gone. There are a few Painted Turtles around. The second pond is covered with a heavy green slime. They can no longer afford to run the aeration unit in the pond so it scums up early in the season.

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke

 

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine

The two geese nesting on the first pond are still nesting. There was one big change. On our last visit the pond was full of water and the small island where the geese normally nest was covered so they nested on shore. Today we found that the pond has lost several feet of water and part of the island was visible. Not sure what happened but I suspect a Muskrat dug a tunnel and let some of the water out. One bird was on the nest and the other bird was stationed on the emerging island.

On the second pond we found a pair of geese with their young.

Lots of Yellow-rumpted Warblers flying around today. We seem to be seeing them everywhere.

The Prairie Smoke is still just starting to come up although the warm weather should help.

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills since returning from vacation. We were curious to see if the Canada Geese had nested at the ponds again this year. We were happy to see one pair had nested on the first pond. Normally they nest on a small island in the middle of the pond but the last few years the water has been so high that they have been nesting on shore. One was on the nest and the other staged nearby watching as we approached.

On the second pond we didn’t find any birds but there were quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves. Normally when we approach they slip into the water but this time they just continued to hang out and ignored us.

After walking around the ponds we headed out into the Prairie area to check on the birds. We wanted to see if the Tree Swallows and Easter Bluebirds were nesting yet. The bluebirds were sitting on one of the bird houses and several pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing them. The male stayed off to the side but the female maintained here position on the house to protect it from the swallows.

There were a few flowers out. The Marsh Marigolds were out around the first pond and the Prairie Smoke was just starting to come out in the Prairie area.

 

 

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills Recreation Area since our return from Iceland. There were a few birds around. It looks like Eastern Bluebirds have taken up residence in several houses.

Eastern-Bluebirds-14-4-_1425

There was a little activity in the ponds. We found this Muskrat in the first pond. He didn’t pay much attention to us as we walked around the pond. The second pond was completely covered in scum and there was no evidence of any birds or animals using it.

Muskrat-16-6-_8423

There were a few flowers around. The Spiderwort is the most common.

Spiderwort

The Prairie Smoke is just about gone.

Prairie Smoke

Orange Hawkweed is common on the trails.

Orange-Hawkweed-16-6-_8442

Dragon Flies are out and about.

Twelve-spotted-Skimmer-16-6-_8433

In several visits to Hoffman Hills Recreation Area I found a number of late spring flowers blooming.

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed

 

I just ran across some photos I had taken late in the spring at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area. I’m a little behind on some of my photo processing.

Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke

Backlit leaves are one of my favorite subjects in the spring and Hoffman Hills is one of my favorite places to photograph them. Unfortunately the bad weather prevented me from getting out much. When I did make it to Hoffman Hills I found that the DNR had done a controlled burn in the prairie area and most of the Popular trees were in bad shape. I did find a few in the wetlands to photograph.

Popular Leaves

Popular Leaves

With the controlled burn many of the early flowers were abundant although it was a little messy to photograph them because every time I kneeled down I was covered with black from the fire. It was a little difficult photographing because of strong winds in the prairie.

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine and Prairie Smoke

Wild Lupine and Prairie Smoke

More photos from Hoffman Hills Recreation Area can be found on my website.

My wife and I made a visit to Hoffman Hills Recreation Area today to see what is blooming and to check out the wildlife. There are a lot of flowers blooming in the Prairie area.

Wild Lupine is just finishing up blooming.

Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine

Prairie Smoke is in full bloom.

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

Orange Hawkweed is blooming around the ponds.

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed

Blue flag Iris is blooming in the wet areas.

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris

Spiderwort are just starting to bloom.

Spiderwort

Spiderwort

Wildlife watching has been very disappointing this year. Normally we would be watching Canada Geese with their young but this year, for the first time, in many years they did not nest. Two adults build a nest but after a week they were gone. There have been no Muskrats or Beaver sightings this year. There were only a few birds around.

I’m a frequent visitor at Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area. This spring has been different from previous years.

Muskrat

Muskrat

The biggest difference has been the abundance of animals in the area. Typically I see a Muskrat every now and then but this year there have been two pairs of muskrats in the wetland ponds. They have been very active and I’ve been able to watch them feeding and bringing material to their lodge. They have been so active that they have undermined the dykes around the ponds. In one case I almost stepped in a hole where the dyke collapsed. In another case I was photographing the muskrats and when I stepped back the ground gave way. I ended up calling the DNR to report the problem and they filled the holes.

American Beaver

In addition to the muskrats there have been a pair of beaver in the area. As I reported in an earlier blog they had been cutting down small trees in the wetland areas. At one point I had thought they left the area because I hadn’t seen any fresh sighs but my wife and I happened to be in the area on an overcast day and saw both the pair of beavers. A couple of days later we went back at sunset and watched them as the sun went down.

Tree Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird female

There are a variety of birds in the area. At one point I saw Yellow, Common Yellowthroats and Palm warblers as they migrated through. It was difficult to photograph them because the trees leafed out so early this year.  The Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds have hatched there first brood but are still in the area. This year for the first time I did get some photographs of Red-winged Blackbirds. For some reason they seem to want to avoid the camera but this year they have been more cooperative.

Canada Goose

The Canada Geese did nest this spring but the young hatched and they left the area after a couple of days. For the first year in a number of years I did not get any photographs of them. There were also couple of pairs of non nesting Canada Geese that frequented the ponds for a few weeks. They provided some great entertainment as they flew back and forth between the ponds and then chased one another.

 

Blue Flag Iris

Dew Covered Prairie Smoke

The early spring wildflowers are just about gone. It has been so windy that I wasn’t able to take many photos of the Prairie Smoke and it is just about done for this year. The Wild Lupine is almost gone as well. I’m just starting to see the Orange Hawkweed, Spiderwort, and Blue Flag Iris.

Prairie Smoke

This past week I’ve had an opportunity to visit Hoffman Hills Recreation Area several times. There are quite a few things going on now. A number of the wildflowers are starting to bloom in both the woodland and prairie areas. In the prairie the Pussytoes and the Prairie Smoke are just starting to bloom. In the woodlands there are several types of violets blooming.

Tree Swallow

The birds are really active now. The Tree Swallows and the Eastern Bluebirds are looking to setup housekeeping in the houses scattered throughout the prairie areas. In the ponds a pair of Canada Geese have started nesting. There are also a number of Mallards and Wood Ducks in the ponds.

Hoffman Hills

The spring foliage is still in full color. The views from the tower are spectacular. Many of the fruit trees are in bloom. Large numbers of Red Admirals can be found feeding on the blooms.