Published: September 16th 2012September 16th 2012
Fox Squirrel Not Pictured
This is close as I got to getting it on camera.
Yesterday Kara and I visited the Celery Bog in West Lafayette. It was only a short drive from our house, and our route took us by the Purdue sports complexes. Being a Saturday, Purdue was playing a football game, and it was evident that it was a home game in the apparel of every person we passed on the way there. Yellow and black everywhere.
The bog itself is just off one of the state highways, tucked away off a main thoroughfare. We grabbed our picnic lunch and went over to the Lilly Nature Center at the entrance to the bog. On our way over to the building, we heard, from an obvious distance, some rumbling and then, clear as day, the pump-up song familiar to fans of sports everywhere. There are no words to the song, but they play it at virtually every sporting event I've ever been to. I don't know the name of the song, but it goes, "Da na-na-NA, Da-na-na-NA-na-na-NA-na-na-na-NA-na," with a driving beat underneath it. And we were hearing it from across the fields, the original source being, of course, the football game. Not exactly the best day to come to the bog, evidently, and
Duck On Log
Probably thinking about tasty grubs.
the sign at the Nature Center confirmed that they don't open on football Saturdays, probably because it's not much of a destination on these days, because of the disruptive noise from the nearby football stadium. (I should note that the football stadium was probably a mile away, but those PA speakers carry a long way.) But the trails were open, so after a quick look at the map, we made our way down the path.
Only a few steps in, we saw a red or fox squirrel's tail waving around in the grass by the Nature Center. Every once in a while the squirrel would bound a few steps, and the tail would bob up and down across the grass. I tried to get a picture, but the squirrel proved too evasive for my electric eye to capture. We walked on, into the new forest.
Kara informed me that this land was used at one time as farm land, but no amount of drainage would convert it into a good place to sow crops, so it was given back to wild growth. The trees were obviously younger, thin and verdant, and we saw some nuthatches scaling the trees.
Kara On Railing
Probably thinking about tasty grubs.
It was funny the way they would run up and down the sides of trees perpendicular to the ground. Let me say at this point that Kara is a great person to hike with, if you are interested in wildlife at all. She seems to know the names of every animal and plant along the way, and is eager to point them out as you walk, because she's perceptive like that. I would have missed half of the things we saw, and wouldn't have been able to identify almost any of them beyond a rudimentary description of "bird" or "flower." She does walk slow, though.
We rumbled off trail a few times to check out a wood duck box perched atop a post and Kara found a squirrelly-looking dead log that was hollow in many places. There was also a geo-cache box located in this log, which we ransacked in spite of friendly warnings on the side to not disturb the box or its contents. It contained a couple of notebooks, some pencils, a small whiffle ball, a ticket to some event, and plastic army men. We didn't take anything, we just pawed it all and wondered who would
Panorama Pt. 1
Walmart on the far left.
put all this stuff in the middle of the woods, and why.
Finally we parked ourselves on the dock overlooking the bog, and ate lunch. You could see a couple of radio towers and the back of a Walmart from the bog, but other than that it was nice and idyllic. There was a single duck sitting out on a log in the middle of the water, and various waterfowl, dragonflies, and spiders lit on the lake, surrounding plants, and the dock, acting natural. We finished our lunch and almost immediately went off trail again.
We followed a trail off the main path and followed it past a sewage pipe, into a little secluded spot by the lake, and decided that the trail really didn't go anywhere important. We turned back, and on the way back to the main trail, I heard Kara whisper, "Andrew." I turned around to see what the matter was, and was greeted by the sight of a doe and a yearling about fifteen feet away in the bushes, staring directly at us. I grabbed my camera immediately, and tried to get a few shots hurriedly. The deer were staring at us eerily the
Panorama Pt. 2
whole time, and finally they decided the photo shoot was over, and leapt through the foliage away from us. Kara pointed out that it was amazing how little noise they made as they went, and indeed, they really only sounded like twigs snapping.
When I think "teeming with wildlife," Indiana is not the first place that comes to mind, but it's incredible how much we saw in the few hours we spent at the Celery Bog (which is technically a marsh, according to Kara). Some of the wildlife was fairly usual, but the deer were mind-blowingly unexpected. I guess it just goes to show how nature pops up everywhere that is not being actively "improved" by man.
On the way back to the car, we saw a beautiful monarch butterfly, some purple cornflower, a number of other plants, and a large bird of prey that we weren't sure was a hawk, but that's how we identified it. As we approached the Nature Center, we could hear the loudspeakers calling the end of the football game, glad that we hadn't been disturbed too much by the booming voce ex machina. It was a good day.
There are more photos below