Saturday, March 2, 2013

Winter Adieu at Bluff Spring Fen & Heading Back to School!

IMG_2006-Edit

Now that it’s March, and Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, I have every confidence that this will be our last weekend of snow on the ground here in Chicago…you hear that, weather gods?!!

Well, after making that pronouncement from my armchair this morning, I decided I had better get out and finally do some winter photography before the last of the snow had melted.  So, I headed out to a favorite tiny patch of nature to try out my new camera and a new lens.

IMG_1998-Edit

Elgin’s Bluff Spring Fen is an Illinois Nature Preserve, and one of the few remaining calcareous fens in Illinois.  Unlike a bog (which gets its water supply mainly by containing rainwater), a fen’s water source comes from beneath the ground—in this case, a spring that remains a constant 50-degrees  throughout the year to nourish an amazing variety of flora and fauna within its small 100 acres.

IMG_2010-Edit

True to it’s word, the spring-fed stream was flowing like clockwork.  No ice here!

IMG_2015-Edit

While most of Illinois is flat as a pancake and stripped of it’s natural habitat, this mighty little fen with it’s hilly kames and tall oak savannah endures.  Perhaps because you must drive through a big, old creepy cemetery to get to it’s only access point, or maybe because the park is surrounded by an industrial park and a gravel pit, Bluff Spring Fen doesn’t roll out the welcome mat very easily so it’s rare to find other more than 1 or 2 visitors to the park at the same time…and that seems to suit it’s delicately preserved ecosystem just fine.

IMG_2025-Edit  

I finally upgraded my beloved old Canon 5D full-frame digital SLR with the new Canon 6D, and today was it’s first field trip.  Still trying to get the hang of all the new controls and wiz-bang features, but so far, I’m really liking it’s lightweight body and great image quality.  The new lens is a fully manual Samyang (Rokinon) 14mm f/2.8. Really quite impressed at how sharp it is—don’t think I’ll be needing to buy the Canon version (that costs $2000 more)!

I hope to spend much more time at the Fen this Spring and Summer (and a few other local parks as well) doing volunteer work as I’ve just been accepted into the Illinois Master Naturalist training program that starts in April…ya-HOO!!!!! I can’t wait!

 Screenshot_3_2_13_8_46_PM

In return for committing 60 hrs of volunteer service, we’ll receive 2 months of classroom and field training from the University of Illinois Extension in a wide range of natural science subjects to better prepare us as park volunteers and stewards.

mzl.iusdefwa.320x480-75

To gear up for my training, I’ve been downloading some nature reference field guides onto my iPad and iPhone.  So far, I’ve gathered the full set of Audubon Mobile Field Guides (really great stuff!).   Are there any others that you kind readers might recommend?  I’d like to stick with just e-books and mobile apps if possible.  I’m also thinking it’s time for a proper set of binoculars.  Any avid birders out there with some good recommendations?

It’s fun getting ready for school again!  Now if Spring would just hurry up and get here!!!

17 comments:

  1. Congratulations. I hope this works out well for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope I can dust the cobwebs off my brain enough to do the homework!

      Delete
  2. I wish I would have known about that area in Elgin when I lived in IL. My husband liked to take photographs in cemeteries. I think that class is a good idea if you plan on working/volunteering at National Parks or Wildlife Refuges. There is a Kindle book "So you want to be a Ranger" that has a lot of helpful information about what types of classes to take.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Teri-- yep, that was my thinking-- hoping it will be a good building block for future gigs.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations. I'll look forward to learning more about that program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to hearing how your new job goes too-- kinda wild to think of your online teacher giving a motivational lecture from her "van down by the river", but what fun you'll have with that!

      Delete
  4. The pictures were just beautiful, I could feel being there; and so exciting about you getting to spend time out in the nature environment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice workout for your new equipment. I enjoyed seeing the snow rather than experiencing it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha ha! Well, hopefully my trudging through the snow lets all you warm weather RVers appreciate your good fortune that much more!

      Delete
  6. Bluff Spring Fen looks like a wonderful little spot to explore. I think you have done a great job on the photos with your new camera, they are really beautiful.

    Kevin and Ruth
    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd rather be exploring some of the areas you guys have been hiking lately! Hopefully next year I'll get south of the border for the winter!

      Delete
  7. Congrats, Lynne! That sounds quite exciting; hope it all goes as well for you as you imagine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jack! Looking forward to hearing news of your big trip too... do you have your blog site launched yet?

      Delete
  8. Volunteering - how exciting! It's great to find something like that close to home? Continuing education is never a bad idea. You're gonna be one busy gal. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, quite a change from my winter hibernation! Are you planning any more NPS volunteering this summer?

      Delete
    2. My summer plans are travel and visit. The time commitment of volunteering better suits my winters.

      Delete

Share Your Views!

Shop Amazon With Us

Gear We Love

Join Us On Facebook