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Outdoors | A harbinger of the changing seasons

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Taken one day at a time, the march toward winter is barely noticeable.

The days are growing shorter, but at increments that are imperceptible. There are a few leaves falling, but most trees are still lush and green. Many neo-tropical migrants have already migrated south, but hummingbirds are still visiting feeders throughout Southern Illinois.

There are still a few tanagers and other colorful birds in the forest, but they are giving way to the more muted flycatchers, phoebes and kinglets.

However, when viewed as a whole, it’s obvious the annual progression for winter is in full swing.

The fall migration of white pelicans, a relatively new phenomenon in Southern Illinois is in full swing. Thousands of pelicans can be seen throughout Crab Orchard Lake.

Outdoors | Crab Orchard Lake drawdown should be beneficial to ecosystem
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A colorful group of Jack O'Lantern mushrooms growing near Campus Lake.

While there are still plenty of great egrets around, they’re now feeding on shorelines among spent thistle plants. Beaver can be found, gathering provisions for winter.

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A great egret fishing among the reeds at Crab Orchard Lake's Wolf Creek Causeway.

And, a real harbinger of the passage of time, American coots and pied-billed grebes are showing up on bodies of water large and small.

The forest floor also reflects the changing of the season with bright orange outbursts of Jack O’ Lantern mushrooms.

Outdoors Column | Les Winkeler: A minute of pure hummingbird magic

This photo essay on fall was compiled last week on a visit to Crab Orchard Lake and Campus Lake.

In a recent episode of "Science in Seconds," Shawnee Community College Field Biology Instructor Tony Gerard teaches about the Garden Spider's web design and its purpose. The YouTube series features a variety of outdoor science lessons presented in just a few minutes.

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