Quote of the week:I’m sure this is unprecedented that piping plovers are nesting on a Superfund site

  • pipingploverhenneghanBrad Semel in an article I wrote entitled, “Rare birds nesting at hazardous cleanup site in Waukegan”

Two more federally endangered birds have returned to Lake County, but the future of their nesting site remains undecided.

Last year, a pair of piping plovers nested at Illinois Beach State Park along Lake Michigan in Zion. And despite the fact that a peregrine falcon snatched the adult male before the chicks were born, all four young shorebirds survived — and one was even found wintering in Georgia.

This year, two of those chicks, now adults, returned to nest on the formerly asbestos-ridden Johns Manville property in Waukegan, the site of a federal Superfund project to clean up hazardous materials. The nesting site is about a half-mile from where they were born.

For the rest of the story,  click here.

Photo of piping plover at Johns Manville in Waukegan by John Henneghan

Quote of the week:There are impatient children running past them, pushing them

— Juanita Salerno

Carnivals can be exciting adventures for children who love the bright lights, rides and fast-paced fun.

But some children with special needs are unable to enjoy the carnival because of the difficulties of getting in and out of the seats quickly as well as other challenges, according to experts in the special-needs field.

For the rest of the story, click here.


Children with special needs can ride the Dizzy Dragon at special carnival days.

The kingbird and the dragonfly

dragonEastern_Kingbird_2_(4770330164)[1] dragon

I try to walk nearly every day for at least two miles in my neighborhood — and every time I go, I see some interesting nature behavior. Today, I walked near the gingko tree at Community park where eastern kingbirds are nesting. I heard the rattling call of the kingbird and saw it flying like a kamikaze airplane pilot in the air trying to catch a dragonfly. Every time, it turned, the dragonfly turned — I wondered how long it would be before the kingbird would give up and decide it was too much energy to expend for a meal. But then just as the dragonfly flew off in another direction and the kingbird continued on course, another dragonfly flew right in front of the kingbird, who promptly snatched his unexpected meal.

Story morals here:  For dragonfly peeps, keep on going — you’ll eventually escape the craziness. Or, even if you think you’re watching where you’re going, something crazy is bound to happen.

IOS spring weekend: Great camaraderie and scenery, and of course, great birds


IOS spring birding weekend birders gawk at singing Cerluean Warblers.

The IOS Spring Birding Weekend (May 15 – 17) was a terrific weekend of birding on the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois. The event was planned and organized by Urs Geiser using the Chestnut Mountain Resort for accommodations.

For the field trips we split into groups and birded  Lost Mound Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi Palisades State Park, Spring Lake, Ayers Sand Prairie, Thompson Causeway and Lock & Dam 13. We birded the grounds of the Chestnut Mountain Resort and watched nighthawks from the back deck. We birded along roadsides and even checked for warblers in a pine stand at a trailer dump station. (It wouldn’t be a real birding trip without a dump or sewage pond would it?) Bugs? Not too many. Rain? A few showers. But mostly it was dry and birdy.

 A preliminary tally puts us at 150 species of birds for the weekend including some real treats like Brewster’s Warbler, Cerulean Warblers, Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, Eastern Whip-poor-wills, a singing Winter Wren,  and at least three endangered species including Loggerhead Shrike, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Common Gallinule. We were serenaded on and off all day to migrant and nesting warblers as well as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles and other species. We relished every look at the magnificent American White Pelicans gliding overhead and Bald Eagles soaring or perched in trees. 

 We particularly want to thank Urs Geiser for all the work of planning and organizing the weekend, The stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge for escorting and leading our groups into the restricted portion of the Lost Mound Refuge, and Dan Williams, Matt Fraker, Bob Fisher and Urs Geiser for leading field trips.

 Special thanks go to all the IOS members who attended and lent their sharp eyes and ears to the group effort as well as sharing their good humor and boundless curiosity and interest in all things natural history.