First field cricket of the season; Prenanthes and Maianthemum in bloom

It was raining when I arrived this morning. I locked up at Parking Lot 11 and walked toward the Virginia bluebells. The forest floor there is a bed of Impatiens now, upslope and down. In the cloudy dawn, the East Woods there is impressively open between the trees. Robins were chuckling and water was running alongside the trail. Prenanthes alba is in full bloom, along with Maianthemum racemosum. The leaves are fully out on almost all the trees now, but still soft.

The rain picked up. I walked into the spruce plot. Sensitive fern is opening up, fronds a bit larger than my hand. A chipping sparrow was singing overhead. A bit further on, just west of the spruce plot, a wood thrush was singing. Why have I been hearing the wood thrush in this particular spot of the woods this spring? At the road crossing to Parking Lot 8, the woodland sunflower is about knee-high. This particular site Jason Sturner collected from in 2006, and it was determined as Helianthus decapetalus. I would be inclined to call everything I see here this morning Helianthus strumosus. Taking a look at the two in the herbarium, and at Jason’s 2006 specimen, the leaf traits (petiole length, pubescence on the underside of the leaf, toothing on the margins) appear to me to intergrade, and we don’t have flowers yet to distinguish the two. Wilhelm and Rereicha’s 2017 book doesn’t recognize H. decapetalus from DuPage County, either. I’ll leave the 2006 specimen for Jerry to look at if he is in today.

On the walk out, I hear a scarlet tanager again, the same place where I heard him last week. There was a beautiful scarlet tanager in the woods at Greene Valley Forest Preserve Saturday evening at around 6 p.m., and a blue-winged warbler calling from the edge of the field. Monday as I got off the train in downtown Downers Grove at 5:30, there was a field cricket calling from the tracks. It seems so early in the year.

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