Oak Bluff Savanna
Field Trip with Peoria Audubon Board: May 5, 2015
In early spring , Trustees of the Peoria Audubon Society took a field trip to the Oak Bluff Savanna, located about 4 miles west of Henry, Illinois to experience the biodiversity led by the owner: Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang. At the time of this field trip, Maury and Emiko were pondering transfer of ownership of their nature preserve to the Peoria Audubon Society for long-term preservation.
Maury Brucker pointing out features of the Oak Bluff Savanna
In August 2015, the Peoria Audubon Society, acting as a land trust, accepted the gift of the 22-acre parcel of land in Marshall County as part of its efforts to protect high quality habitat along the Illinois River Bluffs ecological corridor.
This gift of high quality oak woodlands, savanna, and hill prairie included a maintenance endowment for future needs. It includes the Oak Bluff Savanna Nature Preserve, dedicated as an Illinois State Nature Preserve.
Oak Bluff Savanna: Registered with Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
This site is registered as a nature preserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. Additionally, The Peoria Audubon Society has adopted the standards and practices of the Land Trust Alliance to conserve the Oak Bluff Savanna for future generations.
Maury pointing out features of the steep hill
In the above image, Maury is showing the small pond that is at the bottom of a very steep hill.
Small Pond Surrounded by Woods
Note the growth of woods, showing a high biodiversity, surrounding the pond. A restored prairie is in the foreground.
Closeup of Small Pond
One of the main attributes and benefits of having a nature preserve is to maintain a high level of biodiversity, which keeps nature in balance. The species rich environment is more resilient and adaptable to the external stresses on it.
Emiko Gazing onto Frog Pond at Oak Bluff Savanna
Near the entrance of the Oak Bluff, there is a small frog pond. To promote a high concentration and biodiversity of frogs, the frog pond is believed to be free of fish.
Vegetation in the Frog Pond
The shallow water and wetland vegetation serve as good habitat for frogs.
Numerous Green Frogs were Calling at the Frog Pond
At the time of the visit, during their breeding season, a lot of Green Frogs (a mid-size species of frog, 2-4 inch body-length, native to the eastern half of the USA) were calling to establish their territories.
Board Members Gazing onto the Restored Prairie
During the visit, the board members were introduced to the high biodiversity of the restored high quality native prairie. Maury and Emiko worked over 20 years preserving and enhancing the quality of the natural features on the site. Their enhancements include:
Strolling Through the Prairie
As we continued to drive very slowly along a canal at Spring Lake, we saw a couple of Hooded Mergansers in the distance. They were too skittish to wait for a calm clear shot. The above blurred image of the male Hooded Merganser building up speed for flight was the only one that almost came out.
Woods on the Oak Bluff
This high quality natural area sits on an important migratory flyway for numerous species of neotropical songbirds as they migrate from their breeding habitat in the north to their wintering grounds in Central and South America.
Designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve
As a registered Illinois Nature Preserve, all plants, animals and natural features are protected by law.
Among many of the prairie plants are Puccoons. According to Wikipedia, "Puccoon is a common name that refers to several plants formerly used by certain Native Americans for dyes. The dyes were made from the plant's roots."
Ravine at the Oak Bluff Savanna
On behalf of the residents of Central Illinois, Peoria Audubon Society is fortunate to conserve this important habitat for generations to come.
Photos courtesy of Dennis Endicott - All rights reserved
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