Bog Walking

Thing #15 — Walk the bog trail at Volo Bog State Natural Area.

I didn’t set out today to check off one of the things on my list of 30 Things Everyone Should Do In Greater Chicagoland — I was just looking for a nice place to take a walk on a nice day. The parking lot and visitor center were crawling with telescope-toting members of the Lake County Astronomy Club, but the trails were empty.

The bog is located in the center of a larger marsh. Before I walked the bog trail, I walked the long trail around the outside of the marsh. The tamarack bog can be seen across the marsh in the photo on the right.

This isn’t a place I’d want to take a field trip of second graders — or even junior highers for that matter. The bog trail is narrow and lined with “hazardous soils and poisonous plants.” It floated and tipped from side to side as I walked.

Here’s the start of the trail where it cuts across the marsh.

Tamarack is the only evergreen tree that loses its needles in the winter. They were just coming out as you can see in the photos. According to a sign, Volo Bog is the only quaking bog in Illinois with open water in the center. Sphagnum moss grows on the surface of the water, then trees and other vegetation grow on the moss. Bogs like this are all over the place in northern Wisconsin, and Volo Bog reminds me of the area around my parents’ old house — it even smells like northern Wisconsin.

Volo Bog

Volo Bog

The final section of the trail cuts through a thicket.

And there you have it. It’s an interesting place, although today there weren’t many birds around. Here’s what I saw:

  1. Sandhill Crane
  2. Tree Swallow
  3. American Goldfinch
  4. Turkey Vulture
  5. Song Sparrow
  6. Northern Flicker
  7. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  8. Red-tailed Hawk
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  10. Eastern Bluebird
  11. Black-capped Chickadee
  12. Wood Duck
  13. Cooper’s Hawk
  14. Northern Shoveler
  15. Mallard
  16. American Coot
  17. Red-winged Blackbird
  18. American Robin
  19. Canada Goose
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