Tiger Hunting in Chicago
Montrose Point in Chicago is an unexpected location. It sits at the south end of one of the major city beaches on Lake Michigan. The point extends into the lake, making it a migrant trap for birds. Such a diversity of migrating bird life has been encountered here that it has been nicknamed The Magic Hedge.
Some years ago, sprigs of native (and very rare) dune grass began appearing in the sand along the lake. A bit of protection from trampling was offered, and grass began expanding into patches that allowed the wind to re-sculpt the sand dunes that would have originally been found here. Almost by magic, other dune plant species began appearing. Eventually, a stewardship team assembled and began active restoration and management of the site. They have added some appropriate plant species, however most of the biological diversity has returned on its own.
What have returned on their own are tiger beetles. They have returned in huge numbers. I went out last Thursday to do a survey. I only found one species, the bronzed tiger beetle (Cicindela repandra), however this species is present in almost staggering numbers. There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of individuals on just a couple of acres of land. Despite their abundance and accessibility, they are very wary and difficult to photograph. I did manage to get off a couple of decent shots.
I'm thrilled and amazed that I can find tigers in such an urbanized setting.