Mayslake Update

by Carl Strang

With the onset of winter, things have slowed at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Bird activity has diminished as the migration season winds down.

This sharp-shinned hawk was one of the later migrants to stop by the preserve.

Winter bird activity hasn’t quite settled into a consistent pattern.

A few blue jays continue to hang around, but they may yet move on if the winter turns frigid.

The weather itself has seemed indecisive. The lakes froze over about a week later than they did last year.

May’s Lake had an inch of ice on December 12.

Then we had renewed warmth, and heavy rains that opened the lakes again.

May’s Lake on December 15.

I look forward to expanding my collection of winter botany photos.

Recently I took some pictures of swamp milkweed.

The big push there will need to wait until there is snow on the ground to provide a contrasting backdrop.

Swamp milkweed in winter resembles some of the other milkweeds, but the pods are narrower and more delicate than common milkweed, but wider than those of butterfly weed. There’s also the habitat association.

Snow also will provide for easier tracking, and I’ll renew my acquaintance with the preserve’s mammal activities.

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