Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, October 20, 2008


Today was supposed to be a beautiful sunny autumn day. I was excited because I was to visit the Hennepin Wetlands today. Hennepin is river bottomland along the Illinois River. It's formerly agricultural land that has been re-created as wetland.

I'm usually a bit disappointed when confronted with such a project. Not today. My guides from The Wetlands Initiative showed me around a huge (more than 2,000 acres) site that is becoming a rather impressive wetland dominated by native species. The purpose of my visit was to evaluate the site's potential for butterfly introductions. The answer is a qualified yes, and I suspect that we'll try to add something in the next couple of years.

In addition to a variety of native habitats (wet prairies, sand prairies, oak woodlands), I got to see some nice bird life. Northern Harriers and Shoveler Ducks were new species for me. I even got to see white pelicans (too far away for a photo). We got a bit wet (OK, a lot wet) while out evaluating the site. It's always good when the only thing disappointing about this sort of visit is the weather.

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At 22:45, Blogger Ur-spo said...

the weather doesn't look too bad to me.
it looks like 'fall' and that is cheery.

At 05:54, Anonymous pablo said...

I'm envious. Sounds like it was a great trip professionally and personally.

At 21:50, Blogger Robert V. Sobczak said...

You make some hydrologically interesting points:

Your comment about re-created wetlands rings true: its often difficult to establish the mileau of flora and fauna, and get the hydrology balanced in a way that fosters a sustainable wetland. But they may have got it right in this case.

About the weather: it's sort of like traveling, a bad weather day is always more memorable in retrospect.

At 10:09, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, I have never had a desire to visit Chicago, but if I could go to some of these places you write about I would be very tempted! This wetland restoration is amazing! I can't imagine how many bird species there would be there. Has anyone done a census? Is this place open to the public? I am so glad they are doing this! I hope you will write about this place again. The pics are awesome!

At 17:20, Blogger cedrorum said...

Glad to hear someone got the wetland restoration right. That will benefit a plethora of species.

At 21:28, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- I was enjoying the somber beauty of autumn. Until it started pouring on us.

Pablo- There are some exciting possibilities here.

Robert and cedrorum- My assessment was a very cursory one, I'm not trying to make significant claims about authenticity of this restoration. Still, I was impressed.

Kathie- This place is a major spot for watching waterfowl, especially during the migration. Yes, it's open to the public.


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