Female Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)

Sycamore Land Trust Preserves, Part 2: Beanblossom Bottoms and Laura Hare at Downey Hill

As I noted in an earlier post, there are 13 Sycamore Land Trust preserves that are open to the public. Contained in the current post are photos from two very different preserves that are both close to Bloomington. While the preserves themselves differ in topography, the photos are also unalike because that were taken at different times of the year. They offer distinctive views of southern Indiana habitat.

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve

This wetland preserve of 736 acres (3.09 km sq) is part of the flood zone of Beanblossom Creek. It is, predictably, very flat. Numerous species use it including the Indiana bat, Kirtland's snake, native orchids, bobcats, bald eagles, and other threatened species. Many warblers may be seen in the spring as they make their migration north. Much of the original boardwalk has been replaced with deck material similar to that used around marinas. The water level fluctuates considerably, but most times does not overflow the boardwalk. When it does, the small parking lot may also be flooded. But if it is just wet, you will hear an amazing chorus of spring peepers (in the spring, of course) as you walk from the lot to the boardwalk area.

There is a 2.5-mile trail through the property, with much of it on the boardwalk. Several viewing platforms are present, one of which offers a view of a resident bald eagle nest.  More information may be found on the Trust's site.

Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill

We visited the Laura Hare Preserve on a wet, gray day in late December. All the leaves from the oaks, hickories, and maples were long gone; the beech trees, as usual, were hanging on to some of theirs. As the name suggests, it is atop a hill, but it is a hill with steep and often broken ravines. It feels bigger and higher than a mere hill.

As shown on the Trusts' website map, it is a very roughly shaped rectangle covering 655 acres (2.65 km sq). Although there are a total of six miles of trails, these can be divided. Beginning at the small parking lot on the west side, there is a north loop of two miles, which then connects on the east side with an old road bed of one  mile. The road runs horizontally across the property and connects with the parking lot on the west side. This is the route we took on our visit. There is also a south loop of 2.7 miles that is more irregular. It, too, starts in the west side parking lot and connects with the road on the east side. It is the route we'll take on our next visit.

  • Cerrena unicolor?

    Fungi hosting algae on a fallen beech log. If I have the identification right, they were introduced into the log by a wasp that laid her eggs in it. https://www.mushroomexpert.com/cerrena_unicolor.html

One of the steep ravines. This one has a shale bottom, washed clear by the runoff.

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