Other people burn up logs for "fuel reduction" in Illinois oak woods - against their better instincts - because our woodlands so badly need fire - and logs can be one more annoying distraction to deal with during controlled burns.
|This Somme Woods log stopped me in my tracks. Not a hard thing to do - by a log of life and death.|
|A Cooper's hawk sat on this log to eat its woodpecker lunch.|
The insides of logs house salamanders, ants, beetles, slugs, and rolly-pollies. We used to pull them apart for nature discoveries. One time some unseen creature stung me so ferociously I almost passed out. A surreal experience. None of us ever saw the creature. Is it ethical for conservationists to tear logs apart to explore what's inside? Bears do it. Kids learn passion for science through such discoveries. But if forests are small and rotten logs few, are critical habitats being lost, if there are too many eager scientists?
|At first the little plants puzzle me.|
|My heart goes out to the woodpecker ...|
This meal must have been a red-bellied woodpecker. All our woodpeckers have red on the backs of their heads. But only the red-bellied has the hint of peachy red on its breast, as seems to be scattered here. I imagined the predator was a Cooper's hawk, because few other woods predators could catch a wily woodpecker.
When we started at Somme, the Cooper's hawk was on the Threatened list. A pair showed up and nested exactly in the center of an opening we made by cutting brush and pole trees from a patch of noble oaks. The oaks were dying without reproduction, because excess shade kills oak seedlings. The drama of life and death is central to forest conservation. Nature helps many of us feel depths of life.
|What kind of oak leaf is this - covering the baby ferns?|
|I pause, feel, photograph, and then head off to adventure after adventure. Good-bye impressive scene.|