Outdoor Report

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

Outdoor Report Jan. 26

Ice anglers have been out on several of the District’s lakes. At Silver Lake at Blackwell, northern pike have been caught using golden roaches and crappie have been reeled in with minnows and wax worms. At Harrier Lake at Pratt's Wayne Woods, anglers have pulled in a variety of fish, particularly bass and bluegill.

Anglers, be especially mindful of ice safety since our weather lately has fluctuated above and below freezing. Many factors can deteriorate ice strength. Water currents below the ice may lead to thin spots. Areas around drainage pipes in particular can be susceptible to this. Objects in the ice such as branches or plant material may lead to weak spots, and cracks or faults can enlarge over time, too.

Staff do not monitor ice safety conditions, and all activities are done at the visitor’s own risk. At least 4 inches of clear ice are recommended, and anglers should always check conditions as they move around. Even on the same body of water, ice may be thick in one area and unsafe in another. Visitors should also remember that ice activities are never allowed at Spring Creek Reservoir due to the reservoir’s fluctuating water levels.

To get an overview if ice fishing, join any of several upcoming programs. “Ice Fishing for Beginners” takes place on Jan. 31 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Wood Dale Grove, on Feb. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Herrick Lake and two more dates in February. These events will share information on safety, equipment specific to the sport and tips for forest preserve lakes. “Ice Fishing for Beginners” is appropriate for those ages 6 and up, and those under 18 must be with an adult. Call Visitor Services weekdays at 630-933-7248 to reserve your spots.

This week’s snapshot is of a red-tailed hawk atop a tree on a clear winter day. The species is the most common hawk in North America. Red-tailed hawks have keen eyesight and perch on trees, utility poles and streetlights to survey the ground for a sign of movement from potential prey.

Outdoor Report Jan. 16

Ice crystals on a dried coneflower. 

It’s been a busy week of recreation for those who appreciate snow and ice.The Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament last weekend at Blackwell brought the anglers to Silver Lake. Staff members report that there were a variety of species caught. Later in the week, a visitor caught a 13-inch largemouth bass using a jig. Rangers have also started placing fish cribs on the ice at Rice Lake at Danada, where they will fall through when the ice melts and create more habitat for aquatic life.

And, as a reminder, all ice activities in DuPage forest preserves are done at the visitor’s own risk, and rangers do not monitor ice safety. At least four inches of clear ice are recommended. Be sure to check for safety as you 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.

Another ice-related activity to consider this weekend is the annual ice harvest at Kline Creek Farm. Staff will take to the frozen Timber Lake and big chunks of ice that people used to keep food and farm products like milk cold in the days before refrigeration. Visitors will also get to see how the blocks are stored in the icehouse to stay frozen even through the heat of summer. These demonstrations are free and are suitable for all ages and will take place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 1 and 4 p.m. For information, call Kline Creek Farm at 630-876-5900. 

With the warm weather predicted for this weekend, it will be a good time to get out and look for wildlife that may be more active in the mild conditions. Rangers report a sighting this week of a red fox making its way along the trail system at Timber Ridge near Kline Creek Farm. If you’ll be exploring trails on foot or with snowshoes, please stay to the inside if there have been tracks laid down for cross-country skiers. 

This week’s snapshot is the result of wind and fog on a cold day. DuPage County experienced freezing fog earlier in the week, which can result in some eye-catching ice crystal formation. Ice crystals may coat surfaces all around an object, such as trees, buildings and even snow on the ground. Ice crystals are often called rime ice when they form with the help of air movement. In this instance, ice builds up in the opposite direction the wind is blowing as the breeze brings moisture in the air in contact with surfaces. 

Outdoor Report Jan. 9

Compete for prizes during the Hard Water Classic ice fishing tournament on Saturday, Jan. 10.

That’s been good news for ice formation for the Hard Water Classic fishing tournament on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Blackwell Forest Preserve’s Silver Lake. This friendly competition will offer exciting prizes and a chance for fishermen to test their skills in the largest tournament in Chicagoland. Online registration costs $15 and is available until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 9, and onsite registrations will be accepted at the tournament for $20. The competition will take place noon to 3:30 p.m. Get all the details at dupageforest.org/hwclassic.

Whether you’re joining the ice-fishing tournament, headed to the tubing hill at Blackwell or cross-country skiing this weekend, be sure to bundle up for the weather. Dress in insulating  layers, and protect your hands and other extremities. Learn more about winter outdoor safety here.

People have the option to put on an extra sweater when the temperatures drop, but animals have to come up with other strategies to deal with extreme weather. Hibernation is one of the more well-known strategies. During hibernation, animals’ body temperatures fall much lower, their breathing slows and they survive on their own internal energy stores. The process is a bit of a mystery, and researchers still don’t exactly know how animals are triggered to enter and exit hibernation. Some species of woodchucks, bats, chipmunks, ground squirrels, frogs, snakes and turtles are known to hibernate. Some other species enter a state called torpor, which is similar to hibernation but lasts for a shorter period of time. And still other animals, including raccoons, opossums and skunks, take what could be described as long naps.

Some birds spend the winter in groups with other birds. These flocks may be just one species or a mix. Northern cardinals may join flocks and forage for food alongside dark-eyed juncos, white-throated sparrows, goldfinches and other sparrows during fall and winter. Within a few weeks, though, male northern cardinals will not tolerate the presence of other males. Their testosterone levels will increase and they’ll become more aggressive as they establish breeding territories. Eastern bluebirds flock together in winter, too, and a group was seen recently at Blackwell. Over the years we’ve also had winter sightings at Herrick Lake.

This week’s snapshot illustrates a winter survival strategy of one small mammal, the vole. These are the remains of tunnels made by meadow voles through a layer of snow, visible now that the some of the snow has melted and collapsed the tunnels. The fluffy texture of snow makes it a great insulator to protect these small mammals from cold winter temperatures and they travel from their nests to gather food. These tunnels also shield the voles from the keen eyes of hawks and coyotes looking for a meal.

Meadow voles create passages in the snow for safety and protection from the cold.

Outdoor Report Jan. 2

Happy new year to all of the Forest Preserve District’s visitors and supporters!
 
The cold weather we’ve recently had should be good news for those anglers who have been waiting to head out to forest preserve lakes. All ice activities are done at the visitor’s own risk, and rangers do not monitor ice safety. At least four inches of ice are recommended for any activity. Anglers should always check conditions as they move around. 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 fishing is never allowed at Spring Creek Reservoir.

Anglers should get their ice-fishing gear ready for the Hard Water Classic tournament on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Blackwell Forest Preserve’s Silver Lake. This friendly competition will offer exciting prizes and a chance for fishermen to test their skills in the largest tournament in Chicagoland. Online registration costs $15, and onsite registrations will be accepted at the tournament for $20. The competition will take place noon to 3:30 p.m. Get all the details at dupageforest.org/hwclassic.

The winter season may not have visitors thinking about warm-weather plans, but now is the perfect time to get a reservation set for a camping or picnic area. The District offers youth-group camping at six locations and has a family campground at Blackwell in Warrenville. Picnic shelters and open picnic areas are perfect for family reunions, church picnics and other gatherings and are available at 15 different forest preserves. Reservations for 2015 are now available through the Visitor Services department weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in person at the headquarters office at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton or by phone at 630-933-7248. Download applications forms on the Permits and Fees page.

This week’s snapshot is a scene from a previous winter in the preserves. We don’t know if this raptor caught its prey or not, but it left a mark of its efforts behind. The hawk that tried to nab some dinner swooped down on a snow-covered ice and made impressions of its wings and tail feathers.

Share
Brouse Aloud Get Adobe Reader
©2014 Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
EMPLOYMENT   |   BIDS AND PROPOSALS   |   LINKS   |   RULES AND REGULATIONS
CONTACT US   |   PRIVACY POLICY   |   TERMS OF USE   |   SITE MAP