Outdoor Report Nov. 21
Winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 21, but it has certainly felt like winter arrived with the deep cold we’ve experienced this week. Ice has formed on many District lakes, and anglers should remember that no ice should be considered completely safe ice. All ice activities in DuPage forest preserves are done at the visitor’s own risk, and at least four inches of clear ice are recommended. Anglers should check for safety as they move around since ice conditions vary across a body of water. Some signs of unsafe ice include cracks, ridges or faults in the ice, gray or black ice, areas of open water, ice that looks rotten or porous, and objects protruding from the ice. Please also note that due to fluctuating water levels, ice activities are never allowed at Spring Creek Reservoir.
Even in chilly weather, there are still plenty of ways to stay active outdoors. There are still three Forest Fitness Walk programs left for 2014. See the schedule here, or call 630-850-8110 to register. And, look ahead to Volunteer Restoration Workdays as well. This time of year, volunteers help remove invasive brush. Workdays are scheduled on Dec. 6 and 13 at several locations. Learn more about volunteering here, or call 630-933-7681 to register.
It’s been a pretty quiet week for animal sightings, but we have had a few notable visitors. Flocks of dark-eyed juncos have been seen at several locations, including at Danada near the headquarters building. A naturalist at Fullersburg Woods reported a yellow-bellied sapsucker in the woods near the staff offices. At Mayslake, a naturalist went through the unusual experience of seeing an American mink climb up a tree when it saw him. Though considered a common species, you’ll probably need to spend a bit of time around a wetland area before seeing one. They are fierce hunters and go after fish, frogs, crayfish and even small mammals including cottontail rabbits.
This week’s snapshot is of a dark eyed junco, a common winter visitor the size of a sparrow. The arrival of these charming round birds at feeders and in the forests in winter is much heralded at the start of the snowy season. They form large flocks, sometimes with other species, and eat seeds and berries. Juncos generally start their migration back to their summer breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska in mid-March, but a few may stay in the area until as late as May.