Morning Walks – Man Zou (Walk slowly and safely)

Morning Walks through Allerton Park not only promote good health but promote psychological well-being. Some of this well-being comes from the physiologic effects of exercise, but some arises from the experience of being present in nature. When one takes notice of nature, wonderful things become visible.IMG_3920The play of morning light on spider webs can not be seen from a car passing through the Park. Twin raccoons near the Buck Schroth parking lot a rare treat to stop and enjoy.

Young Raccoon on a morning lark with sibling who has already climbed higher

Young Raccoon on a morning lark with sibling who has already climbed higher

Looking eye to eye with this smart-eyed precocious masked mammal, parental instincts kick in. “-What are you two doing running across the road? Where is your mother?”

No answer was given.

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Inside Allerton – new book by Mr. David Finnigan

A new book, Inside Allerton, written by David Finnigan has been available since the end of May. It is available through Amazon.IMG_3914

Inside Allerton: The Essential Guide to Robert Allerton Park is the book’s full title, but the scope of the book is largely limited to the history of the House and gardens. The author presents well-researched descriptions and historical facts along with an abundance of archived photographs and current photography. The writing flows well in meshing historical details about the evolution of the House design with details about Robert’s personal life.

The author devotes, however, only three pages of the book to events taking place after 1946. Considering Robert Allerton Park was only newly created in October, 1946, in the gifting of the estate to the University of Illinois, these three pages present the history of the Park. The author neglects to report in this brief history that the Allertons first made the offer of a future gifting of the estate to the University in 1941. On July 22, 1941, the University Board of Trustees voted to accept the Allerton’s offer of gift at future date. After WWII ended, the Allerton’s returned to the idea and entered legal negociations to craft the Indentures of their gift.

The author attempts to tie this three page historical summary in a concise package, but the archives present a chaotic carousel of appointed Park directors and a perpetually changing reporting and financial structure. It is a difficult history to research for lack of archival material. Due to this omission of the history of Robert Allerton Park, per se, the subtitle of this book “The Essential Guide to Robert Allerton Park” is a misnomer. This is not a guide to The Park. This book is a Guide to the History of the Allerton House which is now the Conference Center.

The author has gathered a well-gleaned bibliography. The footnoting is extensive. The reader may wonder why the author didn’t include some of the details within the text instead of referencing as a footnote. The footnotes sometimes present conflicting information or posit a new conclusion than the text.

IMG_3915The photography of present day Park is quite excellent. The extensive archival photographs are inclusions that have been missing in all other Allerton accounts. Kudos to David Finnigan for writing such a comprehensive, and historically researched book about the Robert Allerton’s Estate ‘The Farms’. This book is recommended to all Allertonia nuts, like this writer! Each of us have different perspectives on the life of Robert Allerton based upon archival evidence – such as it remains. Robert was a private man, but not reclusive. His ledgers, guest books, personal letters, date book, address book, diaries were either taken to Hawaii, destroyed or otherwise disappeared. We can only interpret Robert’s coming of age as the thirty-something socialite and heir to a fortune. Robert Allerton had great impact upon this County through his gift of Allerton Park. We only know about Robert through the words of others – John Gregg, the press, historical details and locally recorded memoirs. David Finnigan, like others, like this writer, assemble the details and present bits of evidence to build Robert’s life around the transitions that took place in his House – most of which, took place before John Gregg’s entrance into Robert’s life. By 1932, perhaps the couple wanted a blank canvas that ‘the Farms’ could no longer offer. When a travel layover in Hawaii in 1937 presented the opportunity to purchase a new horticultural landscape with an inviting climate, the pair embarked on this new start. Robert left his Midwest farmer role behind – his paintings, his history, his House, land, and collections. These were given away, or auctioned or sold.  They divested to comparatively minimal encumbrance.

In spite of the above criticisms, this book is a must purchase. Mr. Finnegan has done a superlative job in organizing and presenting a wealth of historical details. Partnered with the historical photo documentation, a visit and tour of the mansion brings a new perspective to this local treasure.

Thank you, David Finnegan, for sharing the wealth of your research, so we can all become better informed and better appreciate our magical and beloved Allerton Park.

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Allerton Park: The Fairy Tale Dream Wedding Venue

cropped-IMG_3878.jpgFew moments are as beautiful as a summer’s afternoon or evening wedding in the Sunken Garden at Allerton Park. Actually, any chosen wedding location within The Park provides a dream wedding backdrop. But photographs can hide the 100 degree, sultry, hot airless Sunken Garden in July.

Outdoor tent space for large wedding reception

Outdoor tent space for large wedding reception

Robert Allerton held a weekend house party at The Farms July 29-31,1910. He invited mostly Chicago-ites. Hopefully the weather the last weekend of July, 1910 was as glorious as July 29-31, 2017. The previous weekends during July, 2017 have been beastly hot and humid.

The August 10, 1910, Madame X social column “Recent Activities in the Society World” in the Chicago Daily Tribune described the view:

“he included among its many charms and unique features an oblong pool on the terrace close to the house. Its waters reflect the red brick and stone trimmings and ledges of the house. At each end of the edge are two Italian green bronze cupids, or water sprites, who preside over the aquatics revels which take place whenever Mr. Allerton has a house party. The swimmers in the pool look out over the downward sloping terrace across the artificial lake which lies below, to broad fields which compose the Allerton farms, one of the largest and most profitable in the west.”

The weekend of July 7-9, 2017, was a busy one at the Park. According to posted signage, The House hosted the University of Illinois School of Medicine. On Saturday afternoon, the Fu Dog Gazebo and Sunken Garden each hosted 2:00 weddings. fullsizeoutput_174bThe bride’s attendants at the Sunken Garden wedding wore ground length, fitted strapless gowns in a beautiful shade of sky blue. Against the background of white pillars adorned with gleaming gold dragon fish and the neatly groomed spruce trees, the contrasting white bridal gown provided the jewel of this dream shot. Except – it was becoming hot, quickly, in the full sun. Same with the Fu Dog Gazebo garden set up.

Nice outdoor wedding venue overlooking the lake toward the House

Nice outdoor wedding venue overlooking the lake toward the House

During summer’s heat, The Park offers a mostly shaded road for exercise walking. Good visibility is still necessary as distracted drivers prevail behind the wheel. Bright colored shirts, reflective vests, or combination of both will offer a visual alert to every driver. Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road and ride with the flow of traffic. Rules of the Road directs walkers and runners to use sidewalks where available. When a sidewalk is not present, pedestrians must walk to meet oncoming traffic in their lane. Do not walk with traffic approaching from behind, especially wearing headphones. Walk on the shoulder of the the road or at the edge of the road. Approaching vehicles must yield to the pedestrian.

For a nice exercise walk, the round trip from the Visitor’s Center to Allerton Road (East Entrance) is a little more than 5 kilometers, or about miles. The road surface is even. The road accommodates car and foot traffic to share the space. Posted speed limit is 25 mph. Few drivers obey this speed.

Visitors' Center Map

Visitors’ Center Map

On this day, a man and woman stood staring at the Visitors’ Center map. They had passed by on a motorcycle. He hailed “Hey, Can you show us where we are on this map?”

– Gladly.

This brief orientation included pointing the way toward the Sunken Garden, and Sunsinger (to the west), the House (straight ahead) and the Fu Dogs (to the left). Since they’d passed by the gazebo on their entry into The Park, they had already noted the wedding. Upon hearing about the wedding at the Sunken Garden and an event at The House, they were disappointed to discover these areas were in use for private events. On their way through Monticello the couple had stopped at The Monarch Brewing Company, in the former Methodist Church, hoping to get a burger and beer. Instead, it was “Closed” for a wedding, too.

  • It is the Wedding Season. The picture perfect wedding – like today. This is the Park’s bread and butter season!

The couple had no idea The Park and House had become a wedding destination. They were on a motorcycle trip to visit childhood haunts.

“We haven’t been to the park since we were at 4H Camp – way back when!” the man laughed. “And I’m 75!” he added.IMG_3911

They were having fun. While the House and Gardens haven’t changed much in the intervening 60 or 70 years since they were campers. A visit to the current 4H Camp would be a much different story! What a campers’ paradise with a positive, challenging and safe environment for every camper. 4-H Camp has been a life-changing experience for many – including this happy couple.

In doing the math, the man must have been one of the 4H Camp’s early campers. Born in 1942, now 75, he would have been the right age when the 4H Camp opened for its first campers in 1950.

The couple headed on foot through the Formal Garden toward The House – looking for memories on their motorcycle trip to old times’ sake.

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Watercolor Vignette – Music in the Park

Friday, June 2, 2017 - Music in the Park on the Gatehouse Lawn

Friday, June 2, 2017 – Music in the Park on the Gatehouse Lawn

Music returns to the Park with an expanded venue this summer. For the fourth year since its renewal, the summer Concert in the Park Series began June 2nd. The opening local act were the two lead singers and drummer of The Bashful Young ‘Ens. The Chicago based main act continued to belt out tight harmonies and accomplished musicianship.

The next Concert in the Park is Friday, June 30, 2017. “Doors Open” 5:30. First performers begin at 6:00 pm. From 7:00 – 9:00 (approx) the second performers conclude the evening.

August 18-19 will be Allerton’s first two day music festival. This year, a blue grass flavor with headliners Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush on Saturday evening. Chatham County Line makes a return performance to the Park. They are certainly a band to NOT miss. They offer great harmonies and musicianship on guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and violin. Tickets are available on Eventbrite with a reduced price for advance purchase. Eventbrite is very user friendly.

The programming available this year in nature, music, hospitality, art and education has been well received by sold out events. In the wake of State budget woes, full programming and public support may Save Allerton from the loss of these valuable opportunities (again) in the future.

BTW – Remember to use your insect repellant with DEET when you visit the Park. Even joggers, walkers and bicyclists need to spray up before trekking into the Park. Hikers on trails – take precautions against mosquitoes and ticks.

Come out to the Park this summer. Enjoy the music. Enjoy the beauty this Park offers.

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Summer Solstice in New York



June 17 @ 4:30 am

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Purchase tickets>>

The Consort’s special guests will be the renowned 32-voice choir Florida Singing Sons. My Consort colleagues will include Paul McCandless, oboe, English horn, and bass clarinet; Eugene Friesen, cello; Jeff Holmes, piano; and Tim Brumfield on the Cathedral’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.

The Consort will premiere new music along with traditional pieces, and will collaborate with the choir in music ranging from Bulgarian chant to the work of Eric Whitacre and the sublime nocturnes of Morten Lauridsen.

This is the first time, in all the years of our Summer and Winter Solstice Celebrations, that we will have a choir. Florida Singing Sons (FSS) has been responsible for the musical education of over 1,000 students across South Florida. FSS students dedicate themselves to a rigorous music education program that results in university level musicianship skills and life-changing personal growth and development. The choir tours the United States and internationally on an annual basis, and has a vested interest in cultivating arts-aware youth to be the leaders of tomorrow.

“Morning Sun,” the theme for this year’s Summer Solstice Celebration, is also the title of the new Living Music album MORNING SUN: Adventures with Oboe – Paul McCandless with the Paul Winter Consort, an anthology of Paul’s greatest recordings with the Consort over the past 45 years. The concert will feature Paul on oboe, English horn, and bass clarinet in this salute to his new album, and in honor of his 70th birthday.


Saturday, June 17, 2017 4:30am

Cathedral of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam at 112th St, Manhattan

$50 Preferred General Admission $40 General Admission or 866 811 4111

Purchase tickets>>

“Our music begins in total darkness, and proceeds in a continuous journey, with musicians surrounding the audience. Gradually, as the great stained-glass windows slowly illuminate, the light joins the sound to carry us into the dawn.” — Paul Winter

The concert will be followed by a free tea and coffee reception in the nave of the Cathedral, to which all are invited.

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The Sunsinger Connection

Sunsinger Fall ColorsAt the Sunsinger circle one Saturday morning last fall, I encountered a fellow hiker and his wife photographing the Sunsinger. I stopped to chat, asking him if it was their first visit to The Park. It was not, but they had been away for almost twenty years. His studies and career lead him and his wife to other states.

He shared that his father had been a Mathematics Professor at the University of Illinois. He, himself, an undergraduate product of UIUC, now taught computer science and engineering at the university level. He continued that his childhood home, at least until the mid 1960’s, is now the ‘back side’ of Krannert Center. He remarked the great changes in his ‘old neighborhood’ since his childhood and college years.

We talked about the timelessness of The Park. He and his wife noted the many positive changes around The Park – improvements of recent years. Sunsinger on ground 6 17 07The couple remarked they hadn’t remembered The Sunsinger to be ‘so green.’ I filled them in on his 2007 repatination that had, at least temporarily, removed the rust corrosion eating away at him, but had left The Sunsinger notably glowing teal green. We shared a laugh. He then proceeded to tell me about his friend’s CD entitled “The Sunsinger” whose cover art featured a photo of our beloved monumental statue.
Sunsinger 5 22 08 StitchedI admitted that I was not familiar with the artist or his work. We parted ways. But, they had planted a new research seed – Paul Winter, “The Sunsinger.”

Who is Paul Winter?

Why did he feature our Sunsinger on his CD cover? What is his connection to our Park? This hiker knew him, but how? These are the kinds of questions that drive this research blogger….

1983 CD Sunsinger - Paul Winter on right

1983 CD Sunsinger – Paul Winter on right

First, the CD “Sunsinger”, released in 1983, and was readily obtained through an on-line reseller. Both Urbana and Champaign libraries held most of Paul Winter’s CD’s that provided a thorough introduction to his music.

“Best described as what has become New Age and/or World music, the Paul Winter Consort offered a new, jazz inspired music that quickly found a large audience. The Consort offered a blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, with Native American, South American and African influences.” on line source

A subsequent Google search revealed that Paul Winter, composer and musician, holds multiple Grammy awards.  An undergraduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Mr. Winter launched a successful musical career before graduation that continues to date. The Paul Winter Consort founded in 1967, features Paul Winter, as lead saxophonist. The Sunsinger, released in 1983, won critical acclaim. Success continued with multiple Grammy Awards in subsequent years. He is an artist in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City. He regularly performs there, most recently, giving sold out concerts in December of his annual Winter Solstice Concert.

The most recent Winter Solstice concert held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the December 15, 16 and 17th, 2016, included current consort members, Eugene Friesen, cello, Paul Mccandleuss, oboe, Paul Sullivan, keyboard, Eliot Wadopian, , Jamey Hadded, drums, Tim Broomfield, organ and Scott Sloan on Sun-gongs. The Consort was joined by vocalists, Gary Brooker and Theresa Thomson along with dance group, Forces of Nature.

Not only does the 1983 CD jacket feature a photo of the Allerton Sunsinger, but a printed descriptive identifies him as a ‘replica’ of the Sunsinger that stands in Stockholm, Sweden. The only information to add here is that the Allerton Sunsinger is not exactly a replica. It can be argued that every cast is a replica, but lifetime castings of the Sunsinger by the artist, Carl Milles makes the Sunsinger more than a replica. The Allerton Sunsinger is inscribed by the artist himself.

Paul Winter provided generous reply to the queries posed to him about his connection to our Sunsinger. Mr. Winter came to Robert Allerton Park to participate in a Tai Chi conference held at the House in 1983. (qi is very good in the Park) He came to the Park, only for the conference, and was unfamiliar with the history or offerings of the House and its accompanying Park. The first morning after arriving the night before, Paul headed out for an early morning jog before the conference started. He followed the main road through the Park and began to climb upwards. After several turns the road turned right “on a long straightaway.” (still the same today) Paul Winter explained:

Sunsinger 4 13 2008 4 photos stitched“I thought I saw in the distance a man suspended in the air, who also seemed to be moving. At first I thought it must be an apparition, or that I was hallucinating. But as I came closer, I saw that he wasn’t actually moving, that it was my own up and down motion that had made it seem so. Finally, I realized it was a statue, with the base obscured by the mist. It was like a revelation.”

Paul continued about the Sunsinger.

“I fell in love with the Sun Singer. I had never been so smitten with a sculpture. And it inspired the album, which was made then that summer of ’83 .”Sunsinger at Sunset 9 28

Later in 1985, Paul visited the original Sunsinger in Stockholm, Sweden. He added that the Sunsinger at Allerton Park seems so much bigger and impressive than its Stockholm twin.

Paul referred to the Allerton Sunsinger as “majestic.” Many, if not everyone, agree. As Paul experienced, after a series of curves the road opens to a long straightaway, at the end of which, opens to an expansive plaza where the Sunsinger stands at its center. Depending upon the season, the sun position, the sky, the fog……. the view is always changing. Every ‘concert’ is different, even though the songs are the same.

Paul Winter performs an annual Winter Solstice Concert (Concerts) each December. 2016 was the 38th year of his Winter Solstice concerts at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Paul Winter Consort was one of the pioneer performance artists of what is now considered New Age music. In 1983, it was just a newly inspired unnamed genre. In that year, Paul’s revelation from his close encounter with Allerton Park’s Sunsinger would inspire him to write and release the CD titled “The Sunsinger” which would lead to a long career that continues today. His concert performance within the Cathedral along with a light show, dancers and other performers must be an amazing experience. The Winter Solstice concerts have become so much of a New York City December tradition that the shows sell out each performance.

IMG_2205What could possibly compare to the Cathedral of St John the Divine as concert hall? Could a return to the Sunsinger for a Summer Solstice concert overlooking the meadow compare to a cathedral? Robert considered the Woodlands were the most important element of his estate which covers many thousand acres. Sunsinger 12 10 06

Within that woodland, Robert created aesthetic oasis to nourish the appreciation of nature. When the Sunsinger arrived in giant size, the Allertons had the financial resources to purchase a farm for its majestic perch. The Sunsinger became the far end of the formal garden axis, stretching from the formal landscaped garden, through the Sunken Garden to the Centaur and finally to the Sunsinger. Even on foot by the trail, the Sunsinger is invisible from the intersection. The hiker must climb some elevation before the Sunsinger clearly comes into view.Sunsinger Base Rear w Jet Trail 10 8 06

The Cathedral of St John the Divine is an amazing space. A chorus can be invited to perform a 30 minute concert, depending upon the schedule of services. Besides being an important historic site for New York City, the Cathedral is an active church. IMG_2226It is open for paid visit and included on the New York City tourist pass. IMG_2231An additional paid tour, offered only a few times each week, takes visitors into the upper balconies, into the inner attics of the arches below, and finally out to the roof.


Yet, in spite of St John the Divine’s stained glass and acoustic echoes within its chambers, our cathedral of Allerton Park rivals anything man made. Can a return visit to Allerton Park inspire Paul Winter to perform in our cathedral? Summer Solstice: a Return to the Sunsinger – Paul Winter – June, 2018?IMG_2209

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Watercolor Vignette – Groundskeeper at work

During Robert and John Gregg Allerton’s tenure at their Monticello, Illinois estate dubbed “The Farms,” they employed a full time staff of ten that included cook, housekeeper, driver/butler and groundskeepers. Some of the staff were married couples or relatives. Some of the workers resided at the Allerton estate. There are bedrooms on the third floor of the House for single workers. Most of them were House workers. The Gatekeepers House and the two gate houses were residences of full-time caretakers. Since Robert and John resided only part-time at The Farms, mostly from April to November (planting until harvest), the task of overseeing The Farms from December until March fell to Robert’s trusted employees. They were a dedicated team.

So This is How the Hedges get a Haircut!

So This is How the Hedges get a Haircut!

In a transcribed interview of John Gregg Allerton, he speaks about the workers seeming to melt away when the couple emerged from the House. The same is true today. The gardens are groomed, the paths are swept clear, the pebble walks are raked, the meadow is mown, the tall arborvitae spikes are trimmed – and few visitors see this work happen. The wedding guests this weekend didn’t know that by 7:00 AM that morning, crews were sprucing up and setting up. The same is true for yesterday’s ceremony in the Fu Dog Garden, that crews worked early to make the land and plantscape the perfect backdrop for a magical moment.

Isn’t this the magical part about Allerton Park?

Next time you visit the Park, examine all the details that make up this backdrop. Notice the espalier Trees of Life in the brick garden. Do you know the significance of the Tree of Life? Notice the elements that make the Allerton garden an architectural garden. Notice the crunch of the pebbles intended to require a slower step. Notice the symmetry. The line of the formal gardens extends to the Centaur, but the hard-surface walk ends at the Sunken Garden. The hard-surface walk extends from the House to and through the formal gardens to the Sunken Garden. Access to the pond for wheeled vehicles is best using the wooden platform viewing overlook.

When Robert and John Gregg Allerton left Monticello for Kauai, Robert was 60 years old. John Gregg, his junior, by some twenty years. When the couple moved to the island, Robert actually worked – for the first time. He was no longer a gentleman farmer. He worked alongside John and the work crew in creating new landscaped gardens using the Hawaiian land and plantscapes.

The experience of entering the Kuaui Allerton Tropical Garden is strikingly the same as that of entering Robert Allerton Park. Magical. Majestic. Mysterious. Memorable memories. Meaningful moments. Mind blowing. Merrymaking.

For a moment suspended in time, please visit The Park, soon. And IF you see the Park staff, tell them thanks for making the Park such a beautiful place. In light of the current State budget, we are lucky to still have the Park!


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Applause for the Shooting Stars of the Flower Show

And Now for the Star of the Wildflower Show – 


Location: Lost Garden Parking Lot;

Plank Boardwalk over historically muddy place - McDonald Family Trail (Red)

Plank Boardwalk over historically muddy place – McDonald Family Trail (Red)The MacDonald Family Trail (Red) to the Sangamon River overlook 

The MacDonald Family Trail (Red) to the Sangamon River overlook

The Spring wildflowers have been spectacular. And blooming since early March, too. This past weekend held vestiges of the previous blooming wave. IMG_3667

A few trout lilies remained, although their mottled leaves dominated the floor. The Dutchmen’s Breeches (in the Poppy family) have also faded.

Red Trillium

Red Trillium

Red Trillium are fully opened. Mayapple already sport waxy discs at the bifurcation. IMG_3732With warm temperatures predicted this week, the Jacks in the Pulpit will be in full riot. Bluebells (a member of the Borage family), Purple and Pink Phlox, and Pink Wild Geranium splash pastels amidst the verdant forest floor. Blue-eyed Mary, a snapdragon, line the Blue/Red trail.

But this year, like last year, the Shooting Star stole the show. IMG_8849On Friday, April 14, only two early blooms were counted. IMG_8991On early afternoon Saturday, while the rain still glistened on the stalk, the bloom was on. It was a true Georgia O’Keefe moment. IMG_8984By Sunday afternoon, the slope from Pussy Toe Hill / Lesser Promontory Slope on the Red Trail was engulfed in Shooting Stars. By Monday, the wind over the course of two days was beginning to take its toll on the delicate blooms. It’s a wonder the single stalk that seems to shoot from the earth can support the sheer weight of so many full blooms.IMG_9017 A 15 mile per hour gusty wind shook the blooming chandeliers. At the height of this tall stalk bursts forth, out and down a cascade of flowers – each one, seeming to erupt. By Tuesday, the peak of Shooting Stars was a past event. Just have to wait another 52 weeks for the next show.

After this wildflower interruption, it will be time to return to eBird. It will be time to look up for the birds, while keeping an eye on the trail and road ahead.

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Long Walk Through the Park

Today was a long walk day. Twelve of the 22 kilometers passed through the Park. Three of these twelve kilometers traveled the red and blue trails accessed via the Lost Garden Trailhead and now the McDonald Family Trail. IMG_3744The plank boardwalk passage over the previous mud barrier allows discovery of this natural bog. Continuing upward on the red trail, the trail eventually opens to a promontory over the Sangamon River. Following the crest of the hill south along the ridge and then carefully down the slope, Pussy Toes, Spring Beauties, Trout Lilies, Dutchmen Breeches, Bellwort,



Phlox and Bluebells provide a spectacular backdrop. The Shooting Stars have not yet bloomed in force.

Slopes of the lesser promontory over the Sangamon River. Shooting Stars are poised, ready to burst into bloom. Last year, April 20 was the peak bloom. We may be about the same this year.

Slopes of the lesser promontory over the Sangamon River. Shooting Stars are poised, ready to burst into bloom. Last year, April 20 was the peak bloom. We may be about the same this year.


Shooting Star

Shooting Star

Only two Shooting Stars were noted open today.

Trout Lily and distinctive liver mottled leaves

Trout Lily and distinctive liver mottled leaves

Last years peak Shooting Star bloom occurred around April 20th. This year is on par with last. The trails are too delightful to take note of the birds above. The wildflowers are putting on quite a show. Following the red trail northward, a second promontory, taller than the first, now has a dedicated bench.

Just installed today, April 14, 2017. Wayland's overlook up the trail from Pussy Toe Hill.

Just installed today, April 14, 2017. Wayland’s overlook up the trail from Pussy Toe Hill.

Wayland Eheart’s favorite view. “Wayland’s Spot.” This week, Wayland’s view will offer an abundance of flowers – especially Shooting Stars.

Continuing North on the Red trail until it crosses with the Blue Trail back to the Trailhead, Blue-eyed Mary line this trail. They are in full bloom now.

Blue-eyed Mary (Red/Blue trail)

Blue-eyed Mary (Red/Blue trail)

Jack in the Pulpit

Jack in the Pulpit

Transformation into a Jack in the Pulpit

Transformation into a Jack in the Pulpit

Only one fully formed Jack in the Pulpit was identified. Several leaf heads are ready to curl and transform into “Jacks.”

By next week, the Jacks in the Pulpit will be plentiful. The Green Trail is the best trail for Jacks in the Pulpit.

May Apple are now bifurcating. Clumps of Wild Ginger and



Bloodroot compete for ground space.

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Watercolor Vignettes – A Birding Year at Allerton Park

We are now in the fourth month of A Birding Year at Allerton. Anyone can join at anytime by ‘buying’ a free ticket through Event Brite. Allerton paid events and entries are now done through this on line app. The Event Brite app navigates easily to purchase tickets and make paid reservations to special events. The site also serves as a bulletin board to announce upcoming events.The app allows updates to those who purchased tickets. In this case the free ticket to A Birding Year at Allerton also provides a kind of subscription for information about current bird sightings and recommended places within the Park where one has the best opportunity to observe these birds. The Spring birds began to arrive early this year. Nuthatches and chickadees arrive at the tale end of winter. Bluebirds and cardinals arrive north about the same time. This year they were plentiful in thickets along the roadways.

Last week’s cover photo on the April 6, 2017, edition of the local newspaper featured a mature bald eagle. Great shot! The sheer size of a bald eagle never ceases to amaze and awe. The commentary quoted Allerton Natural Areas Director that bald eagle sightings at the Park are becoming increasingly common.

A benefit of participating in the Birding Year is the reporting database sponsored by Cornell University. The site requires subscription (free) and participants are asked to report bird sightings. Allerton Park is one of the listed locations, so reporting bird sightings as participants in the Birding Year is a relatively easy process on on line. If the birders reporting sightings are correct, the database will statistically demonstrate migration patterns. While walking or driving through the Park many birds can be identified with regularity. Participants are asked to report these birds repeatedly – every time. Not just the first time a bird is observed. The information is useful in determining territory. Consistency of reporting is a real problem. When Bird Sightings are secondary to the primary purpose for being in the Park is exercise and meditation, consistency of reporting become a problem. Although a bald eagle sighting will definitely bring one out of the ‘zone.’

PILEATED WOODPECKER - very large, distintive goofy call

PILEATED WOODPECKER – very large. has distintive goofy call

During the winter barrenness the Pileated Woodpecker is a striking figure in flight and when on the tree. Tufted Titmouse  can be confused for a duller female cardinal.

TUFTED TITMOUSE says "Pwe-e-e-t" in an upwards song.

TUFTED TITMOUSE says “Pwe-e-e-t” in an upwards song.

The Tufted Titmouse is smaller, the front torso is off white that becomes salmon under the wings. The tuft is less obvious than a cardinal’s. Event Bright news reports the arrival of Spring Warblers and kinglets. The now flooded floodplains offer many kinds of migrating ducks – wood ducks. Even pelicans have been sighted near Lodge Park. 

Last week, however, came the ultimate bird disrespect! On the walk home a vulture shrouded his roadkill protectively to prevent the intruder’s theft. Eventually the vulture yielded to the intruders path and perched in the tree above. But, before he could retrieve his squirrel, a park worker came along, stopped and scooped up the vulture’s prize for disposal.

Do I look like I WANT your roadkill? Vulture shrouding his prize.

Do I look like I WANT your roadkill?
Vulture shrouding his prize.

What are the possible morals to this event: ‘You get what you get.’ ‘What goes around, comes around.’ You snooze you lose, Too Bad for the Vulture.’ Hmmmm. That will be a good thought rat hole to pursue on this morning’s walk. 

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