Outdoor Report

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

Top 5 Things to Do in the Preserves This Week May 22, 2015

1. Kick off summer at Family Field Day on Saturday, May 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a wagon ride, milk a cow, tour historic barns, try your hand at archery and fishing, and visit with District naturalists, interpreters, rangers and volunteers at the fun-filled, family-oriented “Family Field Day at St. James Farm” in Warrenville. Watch dog obedience and field trials, view dairy demonstration; meet live birds of prey from the Northern Illinois Raptor Center, and enjoy live music at this free family event. St. James Farm is located on Winfield Road one-quarter mile north of Butterfield Road in Warrenvile.

2. Go Fish. Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the forest preserves. The District stocks many lakes with bass, northern pike, walleye and trout and allows fishing in all District waters, along both branches of the DuPage River, Salt Creek, and in tributary creeks. Learn to fish on the lake bottom for a variety of species at Fishing: Hook, Line and Sinker at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Meacham Grove. If you’re new to the sport and not sure where to start, join us for Fishing Clinic for Beginners on Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m. at Herrick Lake. Here you will learn fish ecology and identification as well as techniques and regulations.

3. Explore nature by boat. Boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at Blackwell and Herrick Lake forest preserves. Boats with trolling motors are also available at Blackwell. Rentals are available on weekends through the end of September and daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Private boating is permitted on Silver Lake at Blackwell, Round Meadow Lake at Hidden Lake and Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake. Watercraft allowed are nongasoline-powered watercraft up to 20 feet in length, including boats, canoes, kayaks, and multi-chambered inflatables with factory-installed hardened floors and transoms.

4. Take a hike. Join experienced site stewards as they lead interpretive walks and field trips highlighting the delicate wildflowers and beautiful birds found in their unique preserves. Each interpretive walk is free and open to participants ages 12 and up (under 18 with an adult). Join an experienced birdwatcher to see birds on a Bird Watching Field Trip on Saturday, June 6, at 7:30 a.m. at Springbrook Prairie, an expansive grassland area. Or join the Parson’s Grove site steward for an interpretive walk to see what wildflowers are blooming and beautiful oak hickory savanna on a Nature Walk on Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. at Danada. Or see spectacular displays of early blooming flowers and summer resident birds on a Wildflower and Bird Watching Field Trip on Saturday, June 13 at 8 a.m. at West Chicago Prairie.

5. Go on a picnic. Pack a lunch and spread a blanket on the ground or grab a table at one of the many scenic sites in our forest preserves. Bring your own grill or use the grills at some of the picnic shelters. Groups can reserve several picnic areas, most with shelters. What a wonderful way to enjoy nature and time with family and friends. 

Top 5 Things To Do in the Preserves This Week May 15, 2015

1. Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Celebrate the delightful seasonal influx of birds at our International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 16 from 8 a.m. to noon at Willowbrook Wildlife Center, 525 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn. The free program includes bird walks, bird-banding demonstrations and other fun activities. Bring binoculars if possible. You can also join us on a Bird Watching Field Trip at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville. Or there’s Birding DuPage at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, at Waterfall Glen on Bluff Road, where you can learn the basics of birding and search for feathered friends during a leisurely stroll.

2. Go on a treasure hunt. Try geocaching, a popular treasure-hunting activity using a GPS unit to discover hidden caches with Navigation: Geocaching on Sunday, May 17, at Churchill Woods. Geocaching uses classical and modern navigation tools to discover hidden containers. It makes for a great outdoor adventure for young and old alike.

3. Volunteer. Why not give back to Mother Earth by volunteering at the forest preserves? Be a good steward of earth by cleaning up litter at a Volunteer Restoration Workday on Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m. at West Chicago Prairie; Sunday, May 17, at Springbrook Prairie, or Monday, May 18, with a Volunteer Workday at the Native Plant Nursery at Blackwell Forest Preserve.

4. Fish. The fish are biting at Blackwell! Some of the catches this week include crappie, northern pike and large-mouth bass. Upcoming fishing programs include Fishing 101 on Tuesday, May 19 at 5 p.m. at Mayslake, where you can learn the basics through indoor instruction and hands-on experience. Or there’s Fishing for Panfish on Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. at Cricket Creek. Learn how to fish for crappie, bluegill and other panfish with small artificial baits.

5. Step up to our Golf and Hiking challenges. You may have heard how Forest Preserve District Commissioner Jeff Redick, District 2, and Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley finished 100 holes of golf in one day this week at Green Meadows Golf Course in Westmont. Now it’s your turn to step up to the Centennial Golf Challenge! Play a combined 100 holes of golf by July 31 at our three courses — Green Meadows, Oak Meadows and Maple Meadows — to receive a certificate for free greens fees for either one 18-hole round or two 9-hole rounds of golf. For details and to register, go to dupagegolf.com. Or get a cool commemorative pin by tracking miles along your favorite forest preserve trails and logging 100 miles in 2015 in our Centennial Hiking Challenge. To help you on your way, join us for a Forest Fitness Hike at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 18 at Herrick Lake, or go on a Ranger Trek on Wednesday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Greene Valley.


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Commissioner Jeff Redick (left), District 2, and Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley started golfing at 5:13 a.m. with glow-in-the-dark golf balls to complete 100 holes in a single day.

Top 5 Things to Do in the Preserves This Week May 8 ,2015

1. Go Native at our Native Plant Sale. Join us for our Native-Plant Sale May 8 and 9 at Mayslake Peabody Estate. The sale offers more than 70 species of native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees suitable for sun and shade. Proceeds support educational programming at the District. Native plants provide food and habitat for our native insect and animal species, particularly birds, bees and butterflies.

2. Experience the spring bird migration. This has been a breakout week for migratory birds in northern Illinois, so it’s the perfect time to go birdwatching at our Birding Field Trip from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. Saturday, May 9. There’s also Birding DuPage at 7: 30 a.m. Tuesday, May 12, where you can learn the basics of birding and search for feathered friends during a leisurely stroll at West DuPage Woods. This weekend you can expect to find flycatchers, gnatcatchers, tanagers, sparrows and a dozen species of wood warblers. The next two weeks will see the peak of the spring bird migration. Some great spots to enjoy this wonderful spectacle are Elsen’s Hill at West DuPage Woods, Waterfall Glen, Fullersburg Woods and Herrick Lake.

3. Drop a line with Mom. Looking for something different for Mother’s Day? Go Fishing with Mom on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 10. Make this the most memorable Mother’s Day ever by treating her to this special edition of a popular program, where you’ll learn about different kinds of fish and the best ways to catch them.

4. Trek through the forest with a ranger. Join us for Ranger Trek at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, at Waterfall Glen. Learn about the history, flora, fauna and amenities of the forest preserves during this ranger-led hike. Or go for a brisk walk with a naturalist on a Forest Fitness Walk at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 11. Remember to track your miles and walk 100 miles as part of our Centennial Hiking Challenge for a free collector’s pin commemorating our first 100 years.

5. Experience a day at the farm. See what life was like on an 1890s farm at Day at the Farm Field Trip on Thursday, May 14, or Friday, May 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Kline Creek Farm. This program is an opportunity for school and home-school groups to learn about chores and family life in the 1890s through fun activities.

Top Five Things to Do in the Preserves May 1, 2015

Image © Mark Barthelt

The forecast calls for getting outside this weekend as temperatures climb into the 70s and possibly even the 80s on Sunday. The first weekend of May marks the opening day of many recreational facilities around the District. Boat rentals are open on Saturdays and Sundays at Herrick Lake and Silver Lake (Blackwell) and will be open daily after Memorial Day. The Blackwell Family Campground operates Friday and Saturday nights May through September.

Recent wildlife sightings include a blue-winged teal at West Branch, a northern shoveler and killdeer at Timber Ridge, a northern harrier at Pratt’s Wayne Woods, an osprey at Harrier Lake, and a black scooter at Springbrook Prairie. Some recent bird sightings from Salt Creek Park include blue-gray gnatcatchers, ruby-crowned kinglets, a sharp-skinned hawk and a red-eyed vireo. This week we share a fantastic photo from Mark Barthelt of a pair of great blue herons nesting at the Danada Rookery. Thanks for sharing, Mark! If you’d like to share your photos with us, please email them to dhumiston@dupageforest.org.

Top 5 things to do in the preserves this week:

1. Step up to our Centennial Challenges in golfing and hiking
Join in our centennial celebration this year by playing golf or hiking in the preserves. Get a certificate for a free 18-hole round of golf by purchasing and golfing a combined 100 holes at any District golf course in our Centennial Golf Challenge. Or get a cool commemorative pin by tracking miles along your favorite forest preserve trails and logging 100 miles in 2015 in our Centennial Hiking Challenge.

2. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lucky Debonair’s Kentucky Derby win on Saturday, May 2
Join us for a fun day at Danada Equestrian Center, where you can learn more about how the local legend owned by racing enthusiasts Dan and Ada Rice won the Kentucky Derby 50 years ago. Read the story about Lucky Debonair.

3. Explore the new two-mile loop trail at St. James Farm in Warrenville
The new limestone trail, which opened May 1, connects to the Illinois Prairie Path and circles the preserve’s main and eastern farm areas. Much of it follows historic trail alignments and tree-lined promenades to minimize habitat disturbance while creating scenic outdoor experiences.

4. Get a birds-eye view
The Greene Valley scenic overlook is now open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through October. The 190-foot-tall scenic overlook offers a fantastic view of DuPage County and the Chicago skyline and is a great place to picnic and look for migratory birds.

5. Go fly a model airplane
The new and improved model airplane field at Pratt’s Wayne Woods in Wayne opens May 3. The new airfield, which features a paved runway, mowed turf and a parking lot, is located off Stearns Road across the street from James “Pate” Philip State Park. The District also has model airplane fields at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Waterfall Glen in Darien, and Cricket Creek and Fullerton Park, both in Addison.

Lucky Debonair
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