I’m not sure how much time you’ve been spending outside lately, but I’m fortunate enough this time of year to be outside almost more than I am inside.  It’s that beautiful time of year when the mornings are cool, the daily high temperatures are still very comfortable, and the mosquitos seem to be minding their own business (at least in my neck of the woods).

As I look through my cameral roll in search of photos to share with you, I find it increasingly difficult to choose because so much is going on!  We’re past the part where nature slowly wakes up from a long winter.  We’re in full swing!  So let’s get outside and see what’s happening.

Wild Columbine is flowering

Right now, the woodlands are absolutely covered in flowering plants.  Around every corner of a trail you could run into flowering wild columbine, mayapple, white trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, and wild geranium just to name a few.

Wild columbine is one of my favorites.  Both the flowers and leaves are beautiful, but what I like most is the odd places I find this wonderful plant.  I went hiking at Governor Dodge this weekend with my family and we saw wild columbine growing on the sides of rock faces and even near the waterfall that’s out there.

Devil’s urn…

If fungi are more your thing, then say no more!  Look around the base of trees or close to the leaf litter and you’ll find all sorts of fungi growing in almost every color.  While out with my family, I stumbled upon one of the most ominous-looking mushrooms I’ve ever seen.

At first, I didn’t know what it was.  It honestly looked like a piece of rubber from a tire but when I touched it, it had that classic fragile mushroom texture that’s hard to describe.  I looked it up later and it’s called ‘Devil’s Urn’.  A very fitting name for this scary-looking mushroom!

Wild lupine flowering

If you find yourself out near a dry prairie or an oak savanna, now is the time of year to be on the lookout for blooming wild lupine.  This beautifully blueish-purple plant serves as a host for the endangered Karner blue butterfly.  The caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of wild lupine and the species simply would not survive without the plant.

Killdeer chick!

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this photo of a baby Killdeer that I moved off of a trail that I was mowing at Westport Prairie. It was reunited with its mother in a safer spot nearby.  If you have ever accidentally gotten close to a Killdeer nest or chicks, you may have seen the adult trying to lure you away.  Check out THIS video of their ‘broken wing display’.

Holding this bird, even for just a few seconds, reminded me of a job I had years ago at a National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.  I was a wildlife technician where I got to band Piping Plovers on beaches.  While not the same species, this was a nice reminder of my time working with plovers.  Well, I hope you enjoyed my virtual tour of nature as it’s happening.  However you experience the outdoors or nature, be it physical, virtual, spiritual, or anything in between, I encourage you to do it!

See you next month!