Written by Kennedy Zittel, Assistant Naturalist
We recently moved Coneflower Trail across Woodland Drive to its new location at our Henry’s Wetland property. The parking space right off Woodland Drive (straight across from Goodwin Road) connects to a trail that takes you directly to the observation platform. As you walk towards the observation platform, take a look up at the osprey tower. Though no osprey has nested there yet, a red-tailed hawk likes to perch up there and survey the property. Speaking of looking up, during the cooler months northern harriers and rough-legged hawks also like to soar above this property, so don’t forget to keep an eye on the sky to see some really awesome raptors!
Once you reach the observation platform, you can climb up to get a hawk-eye view of the new property! From ground level, it is a bit difficult to see the various wet pockets due to the tall wildflowers and grasses, but once you’re up on the platform it is easier to see the full expanse of the property. In warmer months, the view would be full of colorful native wildflower species and grasses, and prairie-loving birds singing away too. Though it is colder now, the view is still amazing, snow clinging to the old flower stalks glistening in the sun.
After enjoying the view from above, you can head out on the trail that forms a loop through some of the property. Going right past the tower, and heading through the prairie will be a beautiful walk regardless of what season we are in. The educational signs that were out on Coneflower Trail’s previous location have already been moved to this new one, so as you walk you can read about different aspects of prairies and the creatures that enjoy them.
Speaking of, on the day that we created this new trail I put up one of our trail cameras facing down the newly constructed trail to see what other nonhuman creatures are hanging out over there. The camera was only up for a little under two weeks, but it got some pretty neat stuff!
On the trail camera we saw a herd of deer stop by almost every day, flocks of geese and ducks, what look to be two owls flying over the grasses at dusk, huge groups of sandhill cranes flying by (pictured), various songbirds, and in addition to the animals out there, the camera picked up amazing videos of the open sky filled with clouds drifting on by.
If all of that was captured by a camera just facing a singular direction, imagine how much more you can see if you are out there yourself! I hope you stop on by and check out the new trail, and hope you see some awesome things too!