More folks tak­ing no­tice of na­ture in pan­demic

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - DALE BOW­MAN dbow­ | @Bow­manOut­side

When I dou­ble-checked the ID of a least bit­tern Mike Sal­bego found in the Dun­ning neigh­bor­hood with Doug Stotz, he pulled up a mem­ory.

‘‘The clos­est I have seen to some­thing like this was many years ago, when an Amer­i­can bit­tern spent all day in one of the small trees along the south side of Mon­roe Har­bor near the Shedd Aquar­ium,’’ tweeted Stotz, the se­nior con­ser­va­tion ecol­o­gist for the Field Mu­seum. ‘‘Dur­ing mi­gra­tion, bit­terns and rails can end up in pretty bizarre places. I re­mem­ber a few years back when a yel­low rail was hid­ing out un­der seats in Wrigley Field one af­ter­noon.’’

Dur­ing the iso­la­tion and at-home time of the pan­demic, one tan­gen­tial ben­e­fit is peo­ple pay­ing more at­ten­tion to the nat­u­ral world around them.

Sal­bego’s bit­tern photo pulled up a mem­ory for Ni­cole Guar­ino, too.

‘‘It made me think of a time I saw a large bird in Lin­coln Park [Aug. 30, 2018] just hang­ing out,’’ she emailed. ‘‘I was re­ally sur­prised at its size, in­clud­ing a large pointed beak. I have won­dered since then what the heck it might be.’’

When I passed it along to Stotz, he tweeted back that it was an im­ma­ture black-crowned night-heron, pos­si­bly from a colony at the Lin­coln Park Zoo.

On Satur­day, vol­un­teer site stew­ard Les­lie Borns sent around a group email that read: ‘‘This morn­ing one of my vol­un­teers was weed­ing a huge swath of cock­le­bur along the rocks at Mon­trose Beach when he came across this moth on one of the cock­le­bur leaves. Any­one fa­mil­iar with this species?’’

The Peggy Note­baert Na­ture Mu­seum’s Doug Taron, a noted but­ter­fly afi­cionado, quickly replied: ‘‘Beau­ti­ful! That looks like a Pan­dora sphinx (Eu­mor­pha pan­dorus) to me.’’

On Sun­day, John Vuk­mirovich emailed: ‘‘A few min­utes af­ter 8 a.m., off to my east-north­east, I heard the clear and dis­tinc­tive call of a sand­hill crane!’’

In re­cent years, sand­hill cranes have be­come the nat­u­ral marker of sea­sonal change for the at­ten­tive Chicago out­doors crowd.

There also has been an in­crease in nest­ing sand­hills (some­times mis­taken for herons) lo­cally. Read­ers have pho­tographed adults with colts in the odd­ity of 2020.

Borns earned the fi­nal word. When I checked the credit on the Pan­dora sphinx photo (Ted Jin­drich, a stew­ard at Mon­trose Bird Point Sanc­tu­ary), Borns ex­claimed: ‘‘Na­ture blows my mind some­times. That’s how I felt when I saw that pic­ture!’’


Teal hunt­ing in Illi­nois opens Satur­day. As to whether any teal were around, ‘‘I haven’t been out look­ing around too much yet, but I saw a few on Fri­day and over the week­end,’’ replied Randy Smith, the wet­land wildlife pro­gram man­ager for the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

He noted Aaron Yet­ter, who was con­duct­ing shore­bird ae­rial in­ven­to­ries in the Illi­nois River Val­ley for a few weeks, thought teal num­bers were about av­er­age. Yet­ter plans to fly the first waterfowl/teal sur­vey Wed­nes­day for the Illi­nois Nat­u­ral His­tory Sur­vey.

‘‘Habi­tat-wise, there is a lot of shal­low wa­ter and mud­flats, good con­di­tions for teal, but of­ten chal­leng­ing for teal hunters,’’ Smith emailed.


On Mon­day, the IDNR an­nounced hunters who draw waterfowl per­mits will be emailed. An­tic­i­pat­ing not be­ing able to hold daily draws, per­mit al­lot­ments have been in­creased for on­line draws for some sites. More changes will come.

High school fish­ing

Plain­field South boat No. 1 took third at the Lake Spring­field event for the ICASSTT (Illi­nois Coaches and Stu­dents State Tour­na­ment Trail) se­ries.

Stray cast

I make it a toss-up whether com­ing Amer­i­can League Rookie of the Year Luis Robert leads the Sox to the World Se­ries or a shore an­gler catches the Illi­nois-record Chi­nook.

ABOVE: A Pan­dora sphinx moth found by stew­ards weed­ing cock­le­bur at Mon­trose Beach.


BELOW: Ni­cole Guar­ino found this mys­tery bird in 2018 in Lin­coln Park. The Field Mu­seum’s Doug Stotz iden­ti­fied it as an im­ma­ture black-crowned night-heron.

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