Date: 7/31/17 11:15 am
From: 'M.Bernat' <mbernat...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Subject: Re: IBET Chicago Ornithological Society Calumet Marshes Bird Walk (7-30-17).
A big thank you to Walter Marcisz for deftly wrangling a large flock of birders to deliver an exceptional birding experience in the Calumet Wetlands yesterday. Only those who remember the days of walking an isthmus to get a view of Big Marsh's distant water and then the "no" days when phragmites choked it can truly appreciate its astounding recovery.
The vista of Big Marsh from the bike park would have looked and sounded much differently yesterday had the original plan for the park been implemented. Bikes could have been clamoring behind us over Belgian Stairs right where the flying Least Bittern was observed. On the marsh side of the path at that spot there would have been an area for fishing and a canoe access. Instead of celebrating the return of bitterns and rails we may have been seeing wayward fishing line glistening in the sun. Same goes for the overlook near the parking lot where the Spotted Sandpiper was observed. A tree-top adventure course that was touted in news stories was not built. Also not built were other originally-planned structures that would have marred the openness of the terrain that now perfectly mirrors the openness of the marsh. We were able to listen for Northern Bobwhite and Northern Mockingbird in a scrubby area east of the marsh because it is not a course of single tracks, as was in the plan. Because proposed boardwalks were not built, bikes are not clanging over planks and the marsh remains unfragmented, allowing habitat for a second Least Bittern.
A birder said to me it looked like we made a difference. It does seem the park district revisited its plans once birders advocated for sensitivity to the wetland habitat from the bike park side and what goes on there. Thanks go to the Chicago Park District for its responsiveness and all the adjustments it made. And thank you, birders, because it was your birding groups that helped effect the changes for the better. I have heard it said more than once that birders have no power. Big Marsh would suggest otherwise.
Two other TCA members, another birder and I continued birding over lunch on the private riverside patio of The Lighthouse Bar & Grill at the marina south of O'Brien Lock & Dam. It's on the way from Hegewisch Marsh to Burnham Prairie. We saw 3 Osprey circling together in the air, possibly from the nest at Powderhorn Lake. We think it could be an eBird Hotspot! It must have been brutal on the restaurant when Torrence Ave. was blocked during reconstruction of the bridge. Then we went on to visit Burnham Prairie where Purple Martin chattered in the trees along the pond.
The native life of the Calumet Wetlands is beginning to thrive again, thanks to improved stewardship. We can only hope Dead Stick Pond will someday be rescued from phragmites the way Big Marsh was and that when Lake Calumet is opened to public access it will still be protected as the secluded sanctuary it is for eagles and other birds and won't be compromised by commercial development or a bridge that would make the eagles' Wooded Peninsula accessible to traffic of one kind or another.
Visit the area for yourself. There are now about 40 more people who can show you the ropes!
Mary Bernat
Thorn Creek Audubon
Conservation chair
Southern Cook County


On Sun, Jul 30, 2017, at 07:29 PM, Walter Marcisz <wmarcisz...> [ILbirds] wrote:>

> As Al Stokie has already hinted, this was a truly great trip – it has been a long time since I have honestly been able to say that about a Calumet marsh bird trip. I basically spent this afternoon compiling ebird checklists and doing my best to share them with close to 40 trip participants. I may have missed some participants (if so please let me know) and I certainly may have inadvertently shared checklists twice with others. If so, I apologize – this was a really big group to keep track of. I will do my best to post a trip summary on Monday (if not, Tuesday for sure!). The bottom line is that this trip left all participants with smiles on their faces.>
> Walter Marcisz
> Chicago, Cook Co.



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