I went birding today with Carol, an enthusiastic birder. The lure, for me, was not the birds but the promise or wild flowers on a real prairie. Illinois may have had prairie at some time in the past, and a few years ago there was a campaign to preserve the last bit of prairie in the Chicago area, but I never saw it. Today was my big day: four of us drove out to Butler, PA to the Jennings Environmental Center, where we found both prairie and woodland trails and joined a group of experienced bird and nature watchers. There were no mountains and no broad vistas here. We began our walk on the prairie trails, so there were no beautiful stands of trees. I had to adjust my thinking and my point of view; to look at the little things. I wanted to photograph on this trip, to test how well my little digital camera would do.
As we started walking through the prairie the experts in our group identified bird calls, talked about the wild flowers and pointed out butterflies and caterpillars. We found a tiny plant, about a quarter inch across, called a scarlet cap, growing on a twig. On another branch we found this bird’s nest fungus.
Each of these little buttons was also no more than a quarter inch across. Tiny spores, less than a millimeter each, were the eggs inside the nest. You would be able to see them on the left edge of the photo if the focus was sharper. Although my camera is supposed to take close up pictures, I’m not entirely satisfied with the results. I have to try it again when I’m alone and can concentrate on what I’m doing. I’m learning about the camera, but I still don’t fully understand it.
Pictures from the walk are in the photo album labeled Jennings Prairie.