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Nature Notes: Royal Confusion - Butterflies at Kankakee Sands

Header photo:Viceroy Butterfly by Ryan Rasmussen/TNC In early September, our Kankakee Sand prairies are aflutter with orange on yellow, white and purple. Monarch and viceroy butterflies are nectaring on goldenrods, bonesets, and ironweed, and it is one of the prettiest sights to be seen! Both the monarch (Danaus plexippus) and the viceroy (Limenitis archippus) are orange, black, gorgeous, and often mistaken for one another. But there are subtle differences between them that can help you identify one from the other in the field.   …

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Nature Notes: Bobolinks - Birding at Kankakee Sands

Header photo by Gary Soper. If you think saying the word “bobolink” is fun, you’d be right! Even more fun is seeing the bird itself.  It’s the male bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) that will turn your mind upside down. Many birds, such as bluebirds or chickadees, are dark on top and light underneath. This allows the birds to be better camouflaged against the light sky when viewed by predators from below, and more camouflaged against the dark earth when viewed from above.  This does not hold true for the male bobolink. In his breeding plumage, he is light on top and dark underneath, with a cream-colored patch on the backside of his head. You might think that he really wants to be seen! …

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Hiking the Succession Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park

I recently had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my family at West Beach, part of the Indiana Dunes National Park. We were wanting something peaceful, yet active, to enjoy the nice weather. I had heard about the Succession Trail from a coworker and thought that I would check it out. The four of us: my mom, my dad, and my small dog, Harbor, made the trip with a small backpack filled with water and snacks. The weather could not have been more perfect and the park was busy, but not overcrowded…

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South Shore Trails: Oak Savannah Trail

By Tom Dabertin The Oak Savannah Trail is one of my personal favorites. The paved path starts at Oak Ridge Prairie County Park (301 South Colfax in Griffith). There is always plenty of parking available; it’s scenic, and has both under and overpasses to avoid major street crossings at I-65, Broadway and Cleveland. The path is multiple use, but bicyclists far outnumber joggers, etc. and people are always polite in yielding…

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Gabis Arboretum: Twilight in the Garden

Looking to spend the remainder of your good summer days outside? I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of the best hidden-gems in Northwest Indiana, the Gabis Arboretum. Tucked away in southern Valparaiso, driving around the area you wouldn’t expect to find six miles of gorgeous hiking trails anywhere near you. Spending most of my hiking time at the Indiana Dunes National Park, it didn’t occur to me that there was a secret oasis right in my backyard. …

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