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Lake Mingo: where's the prairie? - Phil's Rambling Rants
September 15th, 2007
08:56 pm

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Lake Mingo: where's the prairie?
I did the Lake Mingo trail again today.  Pretty much perfect weather.  By the time I got done with my side trip, my feet were sore, but I'm not really all that tired.  I had the camera; I took a few (I guess 50ish) pictures.  If I could figure out a way to unjam my work flow so it wouldn't take me until Tuesday, I'd include some in this entry.  There were a few magic moments.  I startled a great blue heron, who made the loudest squawk I ever heard from his species as he left.  I saw an osprey.  And as I walked across the dam, I stopped to rest my sore feet on a handy rock, and discovered there was a lot of coolness beyond the view of the lake.  A milkweed pod had just burst and had a clump of seeds catching the sun.  One of the seeds had migrated a few feet and gotten entangled with a jewel weed flower.  There was a hunting (non-web-spinner) spider on the milkweed pod.  And a hummingbird stopped and visited.  There was a downside, though; a rock that I thought was stable slid while I was standing on it, and I fell.  I wasn't hurt, but it was a near thing.

Because I still had plenty of daylight left when I reached the appropriate point in the trail, I took a side trip to the Windfall Prairie site.  When you first hit the designated (and fenced) nature preserve by this path, there's a gap in the fence with a bar you have to duck under to keep horses out (since the path to the spot is also a horse trail).  But there's a clear trail, with numbered markers.  So I happily walked along it, through some nice quiet woods, and it just petered out and left me in the middle of the woods.  So I backed up.  There was a fork that looked almost as heavily traveled, so I followed it instead.  There were some numbered markers there too, suggesting that the trail was supposed to loop, but that branch petered out as well.  Neither branch took me to the open area where I thought the prairie was.  So I went along the bridle path for a bit, and there was another sign that said Windfall Prairie, but all there was behind the fence was a fairly good sided field of almost 100% goldenrod, with two teeny little patches of prairie grass, and a fair number of little trees growing up.  I thought this was supposed to be a rare and valuable prairie.

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From:birder2
Date:September 16th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
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It may be that there has not been enough maintainence done on Windfall to keep it up, but it may be that you didn't get to the right place. Most of the prairie stuff is on a very steep hillside: it is what is referred to as a "hanging" prairie. It is not spectacular like Loda or any good tall-grass prairie at the hight of bloom but it contains some rare stuff. It's been a few years since I've been there so I don't know what shape it's in now.
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From:tigertoy
Date:September 16th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
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Apparently I wasn't in the right place. The trails that might have led to a hillside disappeared in the woods. The open area where there was a little bit of prairie grass is flat as a table.
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