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County Parks Tour (Fox Science Preserve)

It has been warm but dark and stormy around here as of late. We've visited a couple of our favorite county parks, sites that we were already familiar with, to fill out the site records for our summer tour project, but only today did we finally visit another park that was completely new to us. Fox Science Preserve is county park land on the site of an old gravel pit. The pit was used to mine gravel for the creation of I94 over fifty years ago, then the family that owned the land closed it to mining and gave the space over to the park system.

The park is starkly different from those that we usually visit. Having been a gravel pit, it is a low, open valley surrounded by wooded hills. In my mind, the terrain is reminiscent of the southwest—a vast rocky landscape dotted with scrubby bushes—only it also has low lying wet areas. Because it was mined for gravel, the area boasts large rock that were uncovered, and a unique look at the geological underlayer, and the park system has used this to its benefit. Instead of the usual meandering hiking trails intended to keep visitors in specific areas, the entire floor of the valley seems open to exploration, and signs describing and explaining the topography and its geologic significance are located throughout. Apparently it is commonly used by local schools for field trips, although I don't remember having ever been here before myself.

We had a really great morning together here. It was cool and overcast when we started out, but sunny and warming as we left. Though the park trails only measure about .8 miles, we spent over two hours exploring everything there was to see, and looking closely for bird and animal sightings. We saw over thirty species of bird, including the Belted Kingfisher and the Northern Flicker, a wide variety of insects, and evidence of mammals, as well: a good haul for such a small area! I was surprised by how much we enjoyed the park, and because it is so close to home, I imagine we'll be back to enjoy walks together when we are short on time but longing for a little quiet space in nature.

Spider web in deer track

Igneous rock

Metamorphic rock

Sedimentary rock

Field Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Eastern Bluebird, female

Golden-backed Snipe Fly

Red-winged Blackbirds, female

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