Illinois Nature Retreat

From June 2-8, 2011, I went to visit my friend Terri in Southern Illinois, where she manages the War Bluff Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for the Illinois Audubon Society. Usually, we only run into each other in international departure lounges (first meeting in LAX for the 2002 China trip), so I was looking forward to seeing her on her home turf for a change. My visit was timed for the annual Cache River Nature Fest, which I'd been wanting to attend for several years and which turned out to be a great family-oriented event.

The War Bluff Sanctuary is just amazing with the diversity of wildlife it holds in its nearly 500 acres of woods, meadows, and ponds. Several species of frogs and lots of cicadas provided the background to an incredible variety of insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and mammals. I was truly surprised and fascinated by it all, and definitely hope to return to see what all's going on as the seasons change. Contributing to the entertainment and educational content of our exploratory forays was my constant companion, Terri's new puppy, Jade, who typically led the way and often pointed out interesting things she came across, including snakes, salamanders, turtles, feathers, and bones. Meanwhile, the cats Opal and Topaz, patrolled the homefront, with Opal tolerating the presence of another human, and Topaz decimating the local frog population.

Following are some of the pictures from my visit that might give some idea of the place and the incredible biodiversity it contains.

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Terri and
the girls.

Terri

Jade
(my bff)

Opal

Topaz

Views of Heron Pond, Rim Rock, and other cool places






A few of the neighborhood birds.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebirds

Mourning Dove

Wood Ducks

Chat

Dickcissel

Great Egret

Horned Lark

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Nest

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Some of the more
interesting bugs

Milkweed Bug

Assassin Bug

Daddy Longlegs

Cicada

Frogs

Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

More Critters

White-tailed Deer

Muskrat

Black Rat Snake

Box Turtle

Raccoon Track

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