This is literally a hidden gem. Bluff Spring Fen in South Elgin is tucked between a cemetery, the Metra train tracks, a gravel pit/industrial park and a
I’d heard that the purple coneflower here is spectacular this year. Even though its overcast and cool, today is my only chance to see it before the blooms fade. Walking among the ancient bur oaks at the entrance, I’m looking out over the green fen. Green on green. Skunk cabbage, fading foxglove, wispy strands of sedges bowing in the breeze.
It’s early morning, and birdsong fills the air with life. There are cavities in these thick, tall, rough trunks that I’m sure are home to raccoons and others. I glass for tufts of fur poking out at the edges of the hollows to no avail.
As I round the back of this small kame (a hill made of sediment deposited by long-since-gone glaciers), I see the purple hillside ahead. The sight invigorates me.
I decide to walk the long way around and explore more of the area before looping back to today’s main attraction. The trail is single-track, worn to the bare ground and predominated by boot prints and deer prints. Along the path to the marsh are occasional coneflowers, the tall puffy spikes of Baptista, budding butterfly weed, milkweed and foxglove blooms.
A pair of mallards
A pair of cedar waxwings
At a gravel
Back around the fen to the coneflower kame is a stunning profusion of pinks and purples, new unfurling petals, older, curled petals, stamens loaded with pollen, others already harvested clean. Among this glory, the blazing star
I’m distracted by a wild oyster flower seed head. It’s like a giant dandelion with its lacy parachutes ready to carry away it’s seed on the wind.
I spent more time immersed in the individual coneflower blooms watching bees and butterflies enjoying the bounty.
There’s so much more to explore at this small preserve, but I’ve been here a couple of hours and its time to go. I have to come back to see the next act in this spectacular wildflower season. I will explore further then. Special bonus: I didn’t see any ticks today!