Bird walks and events 2019-2020:

Fall Bird Walks:

Captain Daniel Wright Woods - September 11

Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve was named for one of Lake County’s first settlers, Captain Daniel Wright.  DWWFP is located along the Des Plaines River and supports a rich oak and maple woodland.  This preserve has a footbridge over the Des Plaines River which is a great location to see migrating songbirds in spring and fall.  With large stands of maples found at few other places in Lake County, Wright Woods is also a great place to view autumn colors. The walk will be on trails through the woodlands to the footbridge.  There are several other trails into the woodlands and also along a small lake and stream. This preserve is one of Lake County’s best spots for sighting migrating warblers.

The entrance is on Saint Mary’s Road at Everett Road, south of Route 60. We will meet in the main parking area for a 7:30am start. Click here for the eBird Hotspot list of bird species sighted at this preserve. Click here for the eBird checklist of birds seen on the day.

Heron Creek Forest Preserve - September 28

Heron Creek Preserve features a rolling landscape of scenic woodlands, a sedge meadow, open fields, and the Indian Creek Basin which flows through the site.  It offers exceptional wildlife habitat and plant communities.  More than 116 species of birds have been observed, including a resident population of waterfowl and herons. 6 state endangered bird species, Black Tern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, Forster's Tern and 3 state threatened bird species, Brown Creeper, Pied-billed Grebe and Red-shouldered Hawk, have been found in the area.  The walk will be on trails that allow the different habitats to be observed.

The entrance is on Old McHenry Road, south of Route 22 adjacent to the Long Grove Park District's Reed Turner Nature Preserve.   We will meet in the parking area off of Old McHenry Road for a 7:30am start. Click here for the eBird Hotspot list of bird species sighted.

Illinois Beach State Park South Unit - October 5

Details to follow of this walk which will be co-hosted by Lake County Audubon Society and Audubon Great Lakes. Meet at the Nature Center Parking Lot for an 8am start. Click here for the eBird Hotspot list of bird species sighted.

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve - October 19 to celebrate Oaktober and to participate in eBird Global Big Day

Fort Sheridan is a historical site but is also known for its pristine natural areas and excellent lakefront birdwatching. Rolling terrain, mature trees, and ecologically sensitive bluffs and ravines on the Lake Michigan shoreline make a scenic destination. There are 3 scenic observation areas, including a 70-foot overlook of Lake Michigan. Fort Sheridan is located in one of North America’s busiest flyways for migratory birds and is also a Hawkwatch observation site which will be active on our visit. Over 140 species of birds follow the shoreline of Lake Michigan as they migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. Almost 60 other bird species are year-round residents. The Preserve’s ecosystems include ravine, prairie, savanna, lakeshore, and Lake Michigan. They provide diverse habitats for a great variety of wildlife and plant species some not found elsewhere in the region. Our walk will be on trails along the ravine and through the woodland ending at an overlook of the lake and prairie. 

The Main entrance is on Gilgare Lane and leads to a new 45-vehicle parking lot.   We will meet in the parking lot.  Fort Sheridan is a great site to sit and observe.  Bring a chair if you would like to sit and observe. Meet for a 7:30am start. Click here for the eBird Hotspot list of the 236 bird species sighted.

Oaktober Event with the David Adler Music and Arts Center - October 20

Lake County Audubon Society, in partnership with the David Adler Music and Arts Center, will continue to support the Chicago Region Trees Initiative by sponsoring an Oaktober Event. The event will be on Sunday, October 20th, from 1-2:30 p.m. It will be held at the Center, 1700 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville, and will feature two speakers and a short arborist-guided tree walk in the property’s woods. 

Lydia Scott, Director, Chicago Region Trees Initiative at the Morton Arboretum, will talk about Oak Tree Health, the importance of oak trees to the environment and to specific ecosystems. The talk will include an update on the oak tree diseases that are now present in and threatening the oaks of Lake County - how people can identify and what can be done about them. 

Lydia’s work focuses on increasing urban forest health in order to improve the quality of life of people who live in urban and suburban landscapes. One of the key areas of Lydia’s work is to ensure that stakeholders have a clear understanding of the value of the urban forest, so that adequate resources - human and monetary - can be allocated. Through a better understanding of the value of the urban forest and increased training opportunities for the skills necessary to care for the forest, public and private land managers, owners, and volunteers can improve this important resource for the future. As Director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, she employs a wide-range of methods and works with diverse sectors of the community to achieve these goals. 

Arborist Steve Lane will talk about the importance of fall tree care including when to trim trees and how that is done. Steve Lane works for Graf Tree Care and is an Urban Forestry Consultant and Ecologist who is currently the acting President of the IAA. Steve is also the Chairman of the IAA’s Advanced Training Qualification Program, and also teaches classes for the program. He has worked in the fields of Urban Forestry Consulting, Commercial Arboriculture, Restoration Ecology, Wetland Permitting, and also performs analysis of Urban Tree populations and Natural Resource systems using GIS. Steve holds a double major in Ecology and Geography from the University of Oregon, and a GIS Certification from Elmhurst College. He is also active in the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, where he teaches GIS classes for beginners.

These are the bird walks and events from Spring 2019 to give you an idea of what birds we saw:

Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve - April 24 

The area that is now Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve had been drained for farmland and mined for sand and gravel.. Most of the original wetlands and flood plain were destroyed. In 1983 a joint venture between the Forest Preserve and Wetlands Research Inc formed the Des Plaines River Wetlands Demonstration Project. In this area, experimental wetlands were constructed where abandoned farm fields and gravel pits once stood. 

Sedge Meadow was a living laboratory designed to provide scientists the research opportunities to study the function of wetlands. The preserve has been restored to its natural state with prairies, meadows, oak grove, and fully functioning wetlands that provide flood control, wildlife habitat and improved water quality for the adjacent Des Plaines River. 

The walk is on a gravel path passing several ponds, including one that has a beaver lodge, a wet prairie, the oak grove, small streams and wetlands. The walk will end where Mill Creek joins the Des Plaines River. This walk will also include a “sitting” opportunity to observe wetland wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. If you don’t feel like walking, or are limited in walking, this is a great site that overlooks the ponds, wetlands, and edge of the oak grove. Bring a lawn chair and binoculars. 

According to eBird, 175 species of birds have been observed at Sedge Meadow over the last 10 years. The Des Plaines River is a times a flyway and resting area for migrating birds 

The parking lot is on the south side of Wadsworth Road just east of Rt. 41 directly east of The Shanty. Meet at 7:30am. Click here for the eBird checklist for the walk. We saw 36 species. Check the photo gallery for photos from the walk by participant Carla Schmakel.

Planting Small Native Gardens - April 28

David Adler Music and Arts Center, Libertyville 2-3:30pm. Instructor: Kelly Cartwright, Biology Professor College of Lake County. This class will introduce participants to some of the factors to consider when selecting native plant species, provide an overview of some of the best native species for our area, and explore resources for buying native plants. Free. Registration required:

Sharing Our Shore-Waukegan Kick-off Celebration - May 4

Join us as we celebrate the launch of our partnership with the City of Waukegan on a Beach Stewardship program: Sharing Our Shore-Waukegan. The goals of the program are to monitor bird species and increase public awareness of the need to protect the unique dunes habitat at Waukegan Beach. The event will be from 1-3pm. All are welcome. Click here to see the invitation.

Kicking out Invasive Plants and Planting Good Guys - May 5

David Adler Music and Arts Center, Libertyville 10-11:30am. We all battle weeds in our gardens, but some weed species are “thugs” and can take over. This course covers how to identify and control key invasive weed species, and discusses the range of native plant species we can plant. We’ll focus on how to assess your site and select a native palette of plants adapted for shade/sun/wet/dry conditions that will maximize their functional role in the landscape. Landscape designer, restoration ecologist and associate professor Rory Klick will share tips and techniques for going native in your home garden. Free. Registration required:

Greenbelt Forest Preserve – May 8

Tucked into Lake County’s most urban area is this island of green. A surprising array of birds, wildflowers and landscapes are found here. An ancient path is central to much of Greenbelt's history. Today it is Green Bay Road and it cuts the preserve in half. About 200 years ago, the trail was used by Native Americans looking for a high and dry passage through the area's lowlands. They were joined by fur traders in the late 1700s and replaced by soldiers and mail carriers traveling from Chicago to Green Bay (hence the road's name). When frontier surveyors arrived in Lake County in the 1830s, this was the only major road. Lake County Forest Preserves began purchasing land at this site in 1971. Much restoration has been done to bring it closer to its original state. Greenbelt Forest Preserve has 5 miles of trails passing through fairly open landscape of oak groves, wetlands and prairies. In addition to possible finding 150 species of birds you can find a variety of wildflowers such as shooting stars, blue-eyed grass and mayapples. The diversity of habitat and the location between the Des Plaines River and Lake Michigan draws a variety of migrating and permanent birds to this site. 

Meet in Greenbelt Cultural Center parking area on the east side of Green Bay Road between Route 120 (Belvidere Road), and 14th Street at 7:30am.

“Martins and More” Event

This is a new event that we will be holding this year. Please click here for the invitation to "Martins and More". This event is being held at Old School Forest Preserve on May 11, 4-6pm to celebrate the return of our Purple Martins. Meet at the sled hill parking lot. Come and learn all about monitoring Purple Martins from Purple Martin Landlord, Emma England. Also hear all about the habitat restoration work being done at Old School from Steward Glen Moss. There will also be a talk on Eastern Bluebird monitoring from the new Coordinator, Jack Nowak. The talks will be followed by refreshments at Shelter D. This event is open to all so please bring your family and friends. 

Ryerson Conservation Area - May 22 

Lake County’s first European settler, Captain Daniel Wright, owned property within the preserve. In the 1920s, a small number of families, purchased land here and built log cabins as weekend retreats. The area was a weekend getaway for businessman Edward L. Ryerson, who built a cabin there in 1928 built three other cabins for friends, and had a country house built in 1942. From 1966 to 1970, 12 families and the Ryersons donated/sold land and cabins to the LCFPD. 

The preserve's rich natural and cultural history is recognized by its dual designation as an Illinois Nature Preserve (a selection saved for ecologically high quality land) and as a Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. Rare species, rare communities and exceptional natural areas combine to make this a very special preserve. 

Ryerson Woods supports some of Illinois' most pristine woodlands and several state threatened and endangered species. It is one of the best examples of a northern flatwoods forest, a rare northern Illinois landscape, and most of the floodplain forest left in northeastern Illinois can be found here. The preserve supports a variety of state threatened and endangered species. More than 190 bird species and nearly 600 species of flowering plants have been seen at Ryerson Woods. Springtime brings special wildflower magic and many migrating birds that use the Des Plaines River flyway.In addition to beautiful trails there is a small farm, Ryerson’s house Brushwood, and visitors center. There is plenty to see if you would like to extend your stay after the walk. 

Ryerson Woods Conservation Area is in Riverwoods. The entrance is on west side of Riverwoods Road between Half Day Road (Route 22) and Deerfield Road, just west of the Interstate 94. Meet at 7:30am in the main parking lot by the visitor’s center.