Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fished out

There has been an explosion in asian carp coverage during the past few days. The Chicago Reader features an entire "asian carp issue." Chefs try their hands at preparing carp--the "eat 'em all" solution--without much success. I was surfing the World Wide Web and found a USGS report from 2000. It was a simpler time then. The carp had only just reached the Illinois River Valley.

The Natural Resources Defense Council noodles on the issue without much resolution. The bottom line, to me, is that the fish is known to be in the Des Plaines River, which originates all the way in Wisconsin. It's basically in Lake Michigan. Closing the locks won't save the lakes now. So what do we do?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wolf watch

A wolf recently was photographed 90 miles west of here, near Oregon, Ill. Wolf sightings in Illinois have been on the uptick. The wolves wander south from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In other wolf news, only the second documented killing of a human in North America occurred in Alaska last week. Strangely, the other wolf death took place just five years ago when a geological engineering student was killed in Saskatchewan. Scary stuff.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Polar plunge

Sixty-two degrees to 42 degrees in 90 minutes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Temperature madness

It's been relatively mild this March, although cooler lakeside per usual in the spring. The next few days will demonstrate the awesome weather spectrum March has to offer, just in time for the arrival of astronomical spring. The temperature is expected to plunge from 70 tomorrow to the 30s Saturday, with snow. Unfortunately, this means the good birding days are taking place midweek and the weekend birding days will be less than ideal weather-wise. Still, I'm birding vicariously through the Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts Yahoo! Group. The latest reports indicate tree swallows as far north as Grundy County. Also, there are a few more signs of spring around including daffodil sprouts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Terrible tributaries

New York City's waterways have made headlines lately. First, Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal was named a Superfund site, meaning it will receive a federal cleanup. The New York Times posted a photo gallery of reader-submitted canal pictures.

Then, dolphins were seen in the East River and Newtown Creek, a creek near Long Island City that makes Gowanus Canal look as clean as an alpine spring. One commenter indicates whales have turned up in the Gowanus before, too. And recently a seal showed up in Staten Island.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Finding refuge

The Chicago area may be getting a new National Wildlife Refuge, and for the first time I've seen a name proposed. The Hackmatack NWR would span the Illinois-Wisconsin border, in McHenry County in Illinois and Walworth County in Wisconsin. Openlands reports that Sen. Dick Durbin is soliciting support for the designation. There are some amazing wild lands in that area so let's hope they get the protection they deserve.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vernal journal

Spring hasn't really "sprung" here. Maybe inched a bit forward, but not sprung. The days are getting longer. The sunlight is shifting a little bit, sending more rays down our street in the morning. I saw a european starling hanging around a nesting site yesterday. The house sparrows seem to be chirping a little bit more loudly. There are reports of woodcocks as far north as DuPage County. And sandhill cranes and red-winged blackbirds are in the area, too.

It seemed like everyone was outside today, relishing the mere 45 degree temperatures. The sun seems to be especially bright, but after weeks of overcast that is to be expected. We're in our seventh-longest historical stretch without a 50-degree temperature (last one was Dec. 1). But we are indeed in meteorological spring, which started on March 1.