Monarch love in North Park Village

On Friday I visited a lovely new-to-me Nature Preserve. North Park Village Nature Center is a remnant of a former Tuberculosis clinic in Chicago. The wooded, 46-acre nature preserve holds various types of landscapes. The easy-to-follow looped trails offer an overview of Savanna, Woodlands, Wetland, Prairie and Edge Forest.

Open from 10 am to 4 pm, the looped trails are kid-friendly and offer a variety of educational signs for visitors of all ages.

I explored both trail loops first, and enjoyed seeing the summer day campers being instructed on park behavior and wildlife.

I learned that Pehr Samuel Peterson was responsible for the abundance of Maple Trees in Chicago. Now I know who founded Rosehill Nursery.

There were beehives, including one imitating a Kenyan construction.

An Eagle Scout built an old-fashioned stove.

Lovely to see old technology made tangible.

A young girl shrieked at a toad crossing the path, and then stayed to look at it as she realized it wasn’t a snake.

The nature trail was lined with Milkweed and other pollinator-friendly flowers. It gave my heart joy to see so many butterflies and especially see Monarchs flutter about in small groups. Looks like Flight of the Butterflies made an impact.

My favorite section was the prairie, where butterflies were nectaring.

There is a mound which offers a nice overview of the landscape.

From here I spotted herons, blackbirds, and my camera actually did a decent job capturing them.

The elevated path leads to a wetlands trail, with a boardwalk cutting through reeds and a lovely pom-pom plant.

My botanist friend says this is the button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

It was a glorious day.

As you wander down that path, you come upon a lovely pond with waterlilies. I am always reminded of Queen Fabiola’s Fairytale when I see these.

I sat by the pond for a bit and watched turtles and birds and dragonflies.

I also saw a grasshopper along the way.

The trails also encourage you to look under logs to discover more critters.

When I had fully explored the trails, I lingered near the milkweed to watch more Monarchs perform their air ballet.

I would love to spot a caterpillar one day, but it is good to know they are here somewhere.

I spotted a deer and its offspring.

Then I sat and journaled a bit.

After that break, I circled the trails again, because it was just lovely to soak in all the nature.

There is a bird watching enclosure with bird descriptions.

I wondered at the lone pine in the forest.

The stories these trees could tell.

Lots of little benches offer writing nooks.

The nature center building has a few exhibits to help identify what is here.

There is so much to spot.

I left the nature center refreshed and happy, and look forward to visiting again.

What is your favorite nature preserve?

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