Thursday, June 12, 2014

Daily Journal: June 12, 2014

Location: Schaumburg, IL
Miles Hiked Today: 0
Weather: Partly Cloudy

There is no doubt that I live in the middle of the developed maze that is Chicagoland. From the parking lot of my large apartment complex you can see several concrete, steel, and glass office buildings that can be found in northeast Schaumburg. Just down the road from where I live (and where I work, which is also visible from my parking lot) is Woodfield Mall, the Northwest Suburbs closest thing to a tourist attraction (besides Medieval Times, which is just down I-90 on the opposite side of town). At night the sky is alight with the glow of the buildings and streetlights. Off to the east you can hear the engines of the jets taking off from or landing at O'Hare.

And yet, even here, there is nature. Across I-290 from all of this hustle and bustle is Busse Woods, a large unit of the Cook County Forest Preserve District. There are woods, prairies, ponds, Salt Creek, and even elk (albeit those are in a pen). Across the interstate and adjacent to my apartment is a pond, some marshy prairie, and some trees. It may not be much, but it is still something.

Ducks and geese are common sights around my building, as the pond sits diagonally away from it. Squirrels abound, both hearty gray ones and scraggly darker ones. Swallows often can be found zooming between the three story buildings. One even built a nest on my deck, although it was abandoned shortly thereafter.

I've never seen one near the building, but I'm sure there are skunks lurking about. I've seen several in various 'burbs, and one was even caught on camera skulking through the parking garage at work. I've not seen opossums either, although I imagine they are around as well.

The third of the infamous suburban trio, the raccoon, I've seen plenty of up here. Walking out of my building this morning I saw the unmistakable little raccoon print, like a little hand, in the mud. I've seen more than one skitter away into the darkness as I drove up. Towards the end of winter, I saw one of the fattest and biggest ones I had ever seen waddle its way across the parking lot, barely stuffing itself under a car. Though the winter had been tough, it couldn't have been that tough for this fellow. I imagine the nearby dumpster, often filled to the brim with garbage bags full of half-eaten treats, was its own choice buffet that let him get through the privations of the cold and snow.

Given the size of Busse Woods, I'm sure there are coyotes and foxes around as well. I've yet to see any up here, but give it time. The way things are looking, we might be dealing with super-sized version of the raccoon, the black bear. At least one has made itself known near Galena, and either him or another showed up east of Rockford. In that case, the days of that raccoon's reign over the iron throne of the dumpster may be over.

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