Bird walks and events 2019:

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.

These are the bird walks and events from Spring 2018 to give you an idea of what birds we saw:

Welcome Back Herons: Our event was a great success with 111 people attending and enjoying looking at a large variety of birds. We saw 26 species. Click here for an eBird checklist of what was seen.

May 2: bird walk at Raven Glen Forest Preserve. The entrance is on Rt. 45 south of Rt. 173. Meet in the parking lot for a 7:30am start. Please bring binoculars. We had 23 attendees on the walk. To see the eBird checklist of bird species that were sighted click here. The highlights were an American Redstart, Clay-colored Sparrow and a Warbling Vireo.

May 16: bird walk at Wright Woods Forest Preserve. 24830 N St Marys Rd, Mettawa. Meet in the parking lot for a 7:30am start. Please bring binoculars. To see the eBird checklist click here.

June 13: join us for Cheese and Crackers with Herons. This event will start at 6pm at Almond Marsh Forest Preserve. Refreshments will be provided. Volunteers will be available with scopes and binoculars to answer questions and provide you with updates on the Great Blue Herons and other water birds. The Marsh is located on Almond Road ½ mile south of Rte. 120.

September 15th: join us for a bird walk at beautiful Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve led by one of Lake County's top young birders, Ethan Ellis. If you use eBird you will always see Ethan's checklists. Ethan will be accompanied by his dad Scott Ellis who is an awesome bird photographer. The walk will begin at 7:30am. Please bring binoculars. The address is: 1401 Middlefork Dr, Lake Forest.Click here for an eBird checklist.

October 6: Illinois Beach State Park north unit nature walk led by Don Wilson followed by a visit to the Hawk Watch:

The walk will begin at 7:30am.  We will meet at the Hawk Watch parking lot and start out with a quick visit to the Hawk Watch group.  Then we can continue our walk to Sand Pond and along Kellogg Creek.  We will end the walk at the Hawk Watch. Directions:  Hawk Watch is in the North Unit of IBSP (also known as Camp Logan). The entrance is on 17th Street. The Moose Club and a Bowling Alley are the intersection of 17th St and Sheridan Road.  The only way to access 17th St is from Sheridan Rd and then going east towards the lake.  Follow the road and the signs into the park.  Go past Sand Pond and over Kellogg Creek and the first drive on the right is the parking area where Hawk Watch is conducted.  It isn't a big parking area so there is another small parking area not much farther down the main road.  To get to Sheridan Road one can take Wadsworth, Route 173 or State Line/Russell Road to Sheridan Road.  Coming from Wadsworth Road or Rt 173 one will turn left and go north.  From State Line/Russell Road on will turn right on Sheridan Road.  If anyone has trouble finding the site they can call Don Wilson at 224-639-3158.

October 6 is Cornell’s Big Day. Every year for the last 4 years Big Day has been an international birding event. It has been held in May each year, but in 2018 Cornell has decided to have a second Bid Day on October for fall migration. We will be contributing our sightings via eBird for both of our walks on October 6. Click here for more information on Big Day. Click here for the eBird checklist.

October 6: Waukegan Beach. This walk will begin at 10:30am and is to celebrate that Mayor Cunningham and the City of Waukegan issued a proclamation declaring 2018 as the Year of the Bird. Waukegan was the first city in Illinois to issue such a proclamation to honor the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The special dunes habitat at Waukegan Beach is a birding hotspot in Lake County. Join us and City officials to celebrate the Year of the Bird with a bird walk on the Municipal Beach. Meet at the beach parking lot: 201 N Seahorse Dr, Waukegan. Click here to see our walk invitation. Click here for the eBird checklist.