Saturday, I went out to the Out and Back area of Kickapoo, and the frog ponds where the main trail first meets the haul road were simply amazing. So yesterday, I invited Jeremy, who enjoys nature and wildlife with a special interest in the old fashioned stuff, to come out with me and experience it. High points of the afternoon included a very tame muskrat, who sat 30 feet from us happily munching until we got tired of watching him and moved on, tons of salamanders (two sorts, presumably different species, many about 8" long with coral pink spots, a few a hair smaller that were plain muddy gray brown), a few interesting bugs (first butterflies of the season!, a couple of little spiders, several kinds of water bugs), a dead crayfish on the path, and OMG FROGS! I actually saw 3 types of frogs, tiny, medium sized, and large. I'm pretty sure I could identify 4 different songs and I think there were a couple more, but the prevalent songs were overwhelming enough it was hard to pick out the less common notes. I recorded a few seconds of audio with my phone, and the recording is better than I would have expected from a phone, but the file is a .3ga, and whatever that is, nothing on this computer recognizes that extension. If I can figure out how to convert it into a more widely understood format, I will post it and you can hear the Kickapoo frog symphony.
When we got back to the car, we had about an hour left before we needed to drive back to Champaign, so we went up the road to Heron Park. Highlights there were a pair of Mute Swans who were sleeping very close to the boardwalk, a Bald Eagle who flew down, gliding into the stiff wind so that he was almost perfectly motionless for some seconds, a glorious view through the binoculars, and a fairly close look at the pair of Sandhill Cranes. Also some Red-Winged Blackbirds (still not quite as many as I expect to set up territories in this prime habitat, 2 or 3 of the eponymous Great Blue Herons flying over, and many ducks (mostly too far away to see well and I don't know my ducks), some coots, and of course Canada Geese.
This early in the year, it is almost certain that winter will be back, but it was definitely spring yesterday (and today too).