Outdoor Report

Read the Outdoor Report for the latest fishing conditions, wildlife sightings and nature news.

Top Five Things to Do in the Preserves This Week April 24

1. Discover the history of Fullersburg Woods
Discover the history of Fullersburg Woods on a free historic hike with District Education Outreach Specialist Chris Gingrich from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Hear about how the landscape was changed by the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp that was based at Fullersburg Woods in the 1930s. Visit bridges, shelters and other structures built by CCC workers and use historic maps and photos to learn how the area has changed over the years. Participants are encouraged to download the free HistoryPin app on their mobile devices prior to the tour so they can access photos during the walk. Images will be provided for those without compatible devices.

The walk is being held in conjunction with the DuPage County Historical Museum and Wheaton Park District. The walk is open to all ages, but space is limited and registration is required. Register online or by calling 630-510-4941. For more information, visit http://www.dupagemuseum.org/special.htm.

2. Plant a Monarch butterfly garden in your yard
Pick up a packet of milkweed seeds and plant them in your garden to provide a habitat for Monarch butterflies. Free seed packets are now available at our five education centers (Danada, Fullersburg, Kline Creek Farm, Mayslake and Willowbrook) as well as our Danada headquarters. Illinois’ state insect, thee monarch butterfly has been in sharp decline for almost two decades in part due to the demise of milkweed, which is the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs. Monarch caterpillars also feed on milkweed for about two weeks until they are ready to form a chrysalis before emerging as a butterfly. To learn more about how to attract butterflies to your garden, join us for “Gardening for Butterflies” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26 at Fullersburg Woods. The program is for ages 16 and up, and cost is $10 per person.

3. Explore fishing in our preserves
Check out some of the most effective bass lures on the market and try them on one of the county’s best bass lakes at “Fishing for Bass” from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 26 at Hidden Lake. The free program is for ages 12 and up; kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Get started or reacquainted with fishing through this two-part program for active adults that includes indoor instruction and hands-on experience at "Fishing Clinic for Active Adults" from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 28 at Mayslake. The program is for ages 50 and up.

4. Experience birding in DuPage
As part of our centennial celebration this year, Willowbrook Wildlife Center is sponsoring Birding DuPage 2015, a series of weekday bird walks designed for new birders, ages 10 years old and up. The first “Birding DuPage” walk will be Tuesday, April 28, at Salt Creek Park. Discover the basics of birding and search for feathered friends during a leisurely stroll from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Cost is $3. If you go, make sure to wear shoes or boots suitable for wet and muddy conditions. The parking lot entrance is on Elizabeth Drive between Addison and Wood Dale roads south of Irving Park. For more information about Birding DuPage, contact Ron Skleney at rskeleney@dupageforest.org or call 630-942-6203.

5. Explore the history of railroading in Chicago
Join journalist and educator Jerome M. O’Connor for an exploration into the age when railroads ruled American commerce at “Lecture at Mayslake: The Railroad Era and Chicago” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, at Mayslake Peabody Estate. The program is for ages 12 and up; cost is $5 per person.

4-17-15 Outdoor Report

The big news this week was the release of an injured snowy owl at Pratt’s Wayne Woods after recovering from its injuries during a 4-month stay at Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

The beautiful owl hesitated for about 30 seconds before taking flight after its cage door was opened by Rose Augustine, the Willowbrook Wildlife specialist who cared for the owl during its stay.

The owl, believed to be a male, was brought to Willowbrook after apparently being struck by a vehicle in late December after it was found hobbling in a cornfield near a roadway in Joliet. A veterinary examination revealed the owl had a fractured left wing, and much of the skin and feathers had been ripped away from his abdomen, hip and near his tail. 

See the Chicago Tribune story and photos about the snowy owl’s release. 

And now for the Top 5 things to do in the preserves this week:

1. Geocache
Try this popular treasure-hunting activity using a GPS unit to discover hidden caches with Navigation: Geocaching on Sunday, April 19, at Churchill Woods. Available at Blackwell, Waterfall Glen and Fullersburg Woods, Geocaching uses classical and modern navigation tools to discover hidden containers. It makes for a great outdoor adventure for young and old alike.

2. Learn how to fish
Learn fish ecology and identification as well as techniques and regulations at the free Fishing Clinic for Beginners program at Herrick Lake on Sunday, April 19.

3. Volunteer
Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by volunteering. There are many opportunities this weekend, including Spring Into VolunteeringVolunteer Workday at the Native Plant Nursery and Volunteer Restoration Workdays at Springbrook Prairie, Lyman Woods and the Elmhurst Great Western Railroad Prairie. These volunteer workdays are a great way to help the environment, get outside and enjoy nature. What are you waiting for?

4. Garden
Learn how to design your veggie garden while optimizing space and yields and minimizing crowding at Gardening with Veggies on April 19. You can also learn how to add native plants to your landscape designs at Landscaping with Native Plants April 21. Topics include sunlight and water requirements, seasonal changes, visual arrangements and general tips for success.

5. Discover signs of spring
The preserves are bursting with spring! Go out and see it, feel it, smell it and experience it. Sightings this week include two Maganzers at Silver Lake, a salamander at Pratt’s Wayne Woods, 10 deer at York Woods and an osprey at Waterfall Glen near the canal. Other bird sightings include northern flicker, brown creeper, belted kingfisher, yellow-rumped warbler, hermit thrush, wood duck and yellow-bellied sapsucker. It’s also the start of the spring wildflower season, so look for things like toothwort and bloodroot. Elms and maples are also beginning to open. So get out to the preserves and see what you can find!

Top Five Things to Do in the Preserves This Week April 10

Yellow Rumped Warbler
Image © David Davis

1. Look to the skies
Watch the spring bird migration. Many migratory birds continue to flock back to the area now that the weather is warming up. The spring breeding season is also under way for many birds, including the American woodcock, which performs a spectacular courtship flight. Grab a pair of binoculars and see how many birds you can identify. The best place to look for migrating songbirds like thrushes, warblers and buntings is by water.

2. Plan your garden and landscaping
Let us help you plan your garden and landscaping using native plants that attract birds, butterflies and honeybees. We have workshops to help get you started. Discover the rewards of growing organic vegetables and herbs at home at Gardening Organically on April 11. Learn how to make your yard a bird-friendly habitat at Gardening for Birds on April 12. And learn how to identify and report common and new invasive plants and how to make your yard a place that supports biodiversity at Conservation@Home Invasive Plant ID and Native Landscaping Workshop on April 16.

3. Volunteer
With Earth Day just around the corner on April 22, now is the perfect time to give earth a little loving by volunteering at the forest preserves. Be a good steward of earth by cleaning up litter at Helping Hands at Herrick Lake on Saturday, April 11; or helping restore a natural area by removing nonnative plants or seeding at one of these Volunteer Restoration Workday: Saturday, April 11 at Springbrook Prairie, West Chicago Prairie or Fullersburg Woods, or Sunday, April 12 at Springbrook Prairie.

4. Hike
Experience spring with all of your senses on a hike through one of our forest preserves. Smell the flowers, grass and spring rains, listen to the birds chirping and chorus frogs trilling, and look for delicate spring blooms popping up. We have more than 145 miles of trails to explore in DuPage County, so what are you waiting for? Join us for the next Forest Fitness Walk on Monday, April 13, or for one of the Fullersbird Fridays on April 10 or 17.

5. Learn archery
Learn basic archery techniques in a family-friendly setting at Archery for All Ages on Wednesday, April 15 at Blackwell Forest Preserve. This classic sport offers challenging, rewarding experiences for all ages and abilities.

Top 5 Things to Do in the Preserves This Week

1. Fish
The spring rainbow trout season opens for anglers of all ages Saturday, April 4 at 6 a.m. at three forest preserve lakes: Grove Lake at Wood Dale Grove in Wood Dale, Silver Lake at Blackwell in Warrenville and Pickerel Lake at Pratt’s Wayne Woods in Wayne. Pickerel Lake has been stocked with approximately 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout, Grove Lake with 1,000 pounds and Silver Lake with 3,200 pounds. Anglers 16 and older must have valid Illinois fishing licenses with inland trout stamps in their possession. The creel limit is five trout per day with no length restriction.

Don’t know how to fish and want to learn how? Register for the season’s first Fishing Clinic for Beginners on April 10 at Mallard Lake. Learn fish ecology and identification as well as techniques and regulations.

And just in time for trout season, the boat launch at Silver Lake is now open. Rental canoes, kayaks and rowboats are available on weekends through May 1, and privately owned boats with permits can be launched as well.

2. Hike
Monday, April 6 marks the start of Forest Fitness Walks. Join a naturalist for a brisk weekly walk as you take in the wonders of the woods. The weekly walks take place at various forest preserves and run through June 1. If you’d like to combine your hike with some birdwatching, the weekly Fullersbird Fridays begin on April 10 at 7:30 a.m. at Fullersburg Woods. Join these naturalist-led hikes and see how the diversity of birds in a forest preserve changes throughout spring.

3. Delight in spring
See if you can find signs of spring. While the trees are still budding, delicate spring wildflowers are beginning to make an appearance. At Danada Forest Preserve, Parson’s Grove offers abundant displays of spring beauties, including toothwort, trout lilies, bloodroot , wild geranium, red trillium, violets, Jacob’s ladder and Virginia waterleaf. Join the Parson’s Grove site steward for a Wildflower Walk at Parson’s Grove on May 2 to see what flowers are emerging in this beautiful hickory savanna. Vernal pools are another sign of spring. Vernal pools are depressions in the land that hold rain and melted snow spring through summer. DuPage County’s vernal pools host quiet amphibian creatures like newts and salamanders and fill with the loud calls of chorus frogs, green frogs, leopard frogs and toads. The best places to see — and hear — vernal pools in the preserves without leaving the trail are at Blackwell in Warrenville and Waterfall Glen in Darien.

4. Discover wildlife
Spring migratory birds and chorus frogs can be heard in the preserves. Recent wildlife sightings have included a bald eagle near the Blackwell youth camp, a muskrat at Silver Lake at Blackwell, a pine-billed grebe at West DuPage Woods near the shelter, two egrets at Springbrook Prairie, and sandhill cranes were spotted at West DuPage Woods and flying over Mallard Grove. Great blue herons are returning to the rookery at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton. You can sneak a peek at the herons while walking the Danada-Herrick Lake Regional Trail until mid-May when the trees fully leaf out.

5. Learn about prescription burns
District staff took advantage of this week’s nice weather to conduct quite a few prescription burns at area preserves, including Dunham, Maple Grove, Mayslake, Meacham Grove, Pratt’s Wayne Woods, Springbrook Prairie, Timber Ridge, Willowbrook, Waterfall Glen, West DuPage Woods and Wood Ridge.

Controlled burns are a natural resource management tool used to preserve natural habitats and better control non-native plant species. Burns are usually conducted in the early spring before new vegetation emerges and in late fall after the season’s vegetation has died. Learn more about the District’s prescription burn program by attending an April 5 program on them and/or viewing this video

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