A Celestial Spectacle

August 19, 2023 clifftop CliffNotes

Gazing up at the night sky has always held a magical allure, captivating human imagination for generations. Among the myriad celestial phenomena, the Perseid Meteor Shower stands out as one of the most awe-inspiring events. Nature’s own fireworks display, the Perseids is a breathtaking spectacle that graces the heavens annually, leaving star-gazers in awe. As […]


Native Snakes of SW Illinois

June 3, 2023 clifftop CliffNotes

For a lot of people, the very word reptile conjures up repulsive images of scaly, slimy, slithering creatures–apparitions of evil and danger. If that’s the case for you, read no further. For other folks, reptiles represent a fascinating group of animals which hold a pivotal place among the stunning wildlife of our bluff lands. Reptiles […]


Animal Tracks

March 18, 2023 clifftop CliffNotes

Winter and snow bring the opportunity to discover an abundance of animal tracks, turning a simple path into a deer superhighway. It’s fascinating to see where the critters go in their travels in the woods.  Perhaps they feel the same way when they see our footprints or UTV tracks. Let’s take a look at some […]


Cicadas of Illinois

August 31, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

There are 22 species of cicadas that can be found in Illinois, including two species that within Illinois are only found in clifftop prairies in Monroe and Madison County. Prior to 2018, no one even knew that Beameria venosa and Neotibicen auriferus (Plain’s Dog-day Cicada) were here in Illinois. Over the past few years Catherine […]


Seed Collecting

August 4, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Laura Walther Schaefer Fall is often the season when seed collecting comes to mind, but waiting until then means likely missing many of the spring to early summer flowers that have either finished their seed-producing cycle or are about ready for harvest now. Collecting your own seed, as opposed to buying plants from a […]


The Importance of Moths

June 28, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Deanna Deterding, M.S., SIUE Did you know that moths outnumber butterflies 14:1 globally? In Illinois there are roughly 2000 members of the insect Order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Of the 2000 species of Lepidoptera over 90% of these are moths and less than 10% are butterflies. Despite how numerous moths are, conversations about pollination […]


Total Lunar Eclipse

May 26, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

By Dr. Michael Krawczynski, Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University, St. Louis Eclipses are astronomical events that have fascinated human beings throughout history. These transcendent occurrences have always frightened, fascinated or inspired fantasy. Overnight on Sunday, May 15, into the early morning hours of Monday, May 16, there will be a […]



January 25, 2022 clifftop CliffNotes

Vast. Pristine. Remote. Penguins. Seals. Whales. Seabirds. Glaciers. Icebergs. Amundsen’s description:  “It was easy to see that here, nature was at her mightiest.” It is difficult to express in a few words or show with a collection of photos Antarctica.  Facts are Antarctica is 4.59 million square miles and the surrounding Southern Ocean covers 13.9 […]


By the Light of the Moon

November 24, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Most of us take the moon for granted and pay little attention to its movements. After all, it is 238,900 (221,500-252,700) miles away. In reality the moon’s movements change daily, rising about 50 minutes later every day.  Sometimes it rises in the daytime and sometimes at night. It revolves around the earth every 27.3 days reflecting the […]


Help Save the Hill Prairies

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The hill prairies of Illinois are shrinking and at risk of being lost from the Illinois landscape forever. Hill prairies are home to several rare and endangered plants and animals, and they need our help to protect them from threats like brush and other weedy invasive plants. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Friends […]


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