Tuesday, April 20, 2010
A trip to Humiston Woods
Last Sunday, my mother and I went to Humiston Woods Nature Center, which is just outside of Pontiac in Livingston County, off route 23 past a very stinky and scary-looking landfill. (I looked up the Pontiac landfill on the Internet, and read that it is for non-hazardous waste. That may be. But it still looks really yucky.)
Humiston Woods is a worthy addition for central Illinois birders; it has a nice mix of habitat, including tallgrass prairie, savanna, and woods, with both Wolf Creek and the Vermilion River crossing through it, it has some nice hiking trails, and it's quite pretty -- for pleasant surroundings, I think it might come in ahead of my favorite McLean County birding spots, although it still doesn't have the mix of birds of my favorite, Evergreen Lake.
Spring is a lovely time to visit Humiston Woods. The wildflowers are gorgeous. Bluebells carpeted the floor of the woods, making everything a wash of blue; there were also spring beauties, violets, and shooting stars. Every so often my mom would stop and say, "I keep having to stop and remind myself how pretty this is."
The park is best for warblers in spring and fall, and we were still a bit too early for the big spring warbler invasion. We saw some nice yellow rumps (one of them scratching and preening himself like crazy), blue-gray gnatcatchers, and ruby-crowned kinglets, but I don't think the spring migrants have really hit yet.
The crowning moment of the trip was seeing the heron rookery in the large sycamore along the Vermilion River -- a good dozen huge nests high up in the tree, each with a great blue heron head sticking out as the parent bird sits on the eggs.