Two summers ago, I blogged about the sunflower patch that I found at Apple Creek Conservation Area. I checked back last week, but didn't find any sunflowers there.
However, I found an ever better display of sunflowers at Maintz Wildlife Preserve, a conservation area north of Millersville also in Cape Girardeau County.
Slightly past their prime, the flowers were starting to droop when I visited on Saturday, Aug. 1. They still offered plenty of color:
The Conservation Department plants sunflowers to provide food for birds, especially doves, but also quail, pheasants, turkeys, and others. It's a very effective food source, as five pounds of planted seed can produce over 800 pounds of food.
I would call this a bee-utiful sight, but I hate it when B-level writers buzz their readers with bee-related puns.
The sunflower patch occupies the top of a hillside, visible from a long distance away. I waited for the sun to come out, but this crazy cool August weather wouldn't allow it.
Several doves hanging out at the sunflower field weren't too happy when I arrived. A deer in a nearby field wasn't too thrilled either, and made grunting sounds while staring daggers at me before she started bounding away.
In addition to the sea of yellow, this part of Maintz Preserve also includes a stocked four-acre pond...
...plus a classic barn next to a corn field with stalks rapidly approaching the height of an elephant's eye...
...and hillsides chock full of wild plants:
If you hurry, you might be able to catch the sunflowers this season before they all slump over and lose their color. Even without the sunflowers, however, Maintz Wildlife Preserve offers a nice place to do some hiking and maybe a little fishin'.
From Cape Girardeau, take Highway 72 through Jackson toward Millersville. Just before reaching Millersville, turn right on Route B. After two miles, turn left on Route BB near the water tower. Go one mile and look for County Road 471 on the right. Follow CR 471, a gravel road, north for 1.3 miles and look for the second parking area on the left. This lot is signed as Parking Lot #4. [Google map]
At the parking area, walk past the gate and follow the gravel access road to the top of the hill. Where the road curves right to reach the barn, turn left and follow a trail down to the pond. Cross the levee and continue straight through the next field to reach the sunflower patch at the top of the hill.
Note: It appears that the crops are rotated each year, so the sunflowers might be planted at a different location next season. Maintz has 127 acres of cropland scattered throughout 804 acres of public land, so finding the sunflowers (if any) may require some exploring.