Recently at the grassland

From Pat Hayes: What do Girl Scout Cookies and invasives have in common?

Trefoil!  The Habitat Rescue Team has been busy going after Birdsfoot Trefoil (bft) during May. Perfect timing! the bft is green and obvious against winter's dead vegetation. It was especially terrific making our run through Betony Place because of the spring prescribed burn there. It was like a walk in the park finding it while getting an eyeful of the spring flora that was up and flowering: Hoary Puccoon, Blue-eyed Grass, Bastard Toadflax, Prairie Violet, Arrow-leaved Violets, Mead's Sedge. Bird song surrounded us from Henslow's Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Grasshopper Sparrows...and I am sure I heard a Bobolink!  Workdays are great, especially when they're followed by treats like Trefoil Girl Scout cookies.

The Habitat Rescue Team found this carpet of Birdsfoot Trefoil in the inner circle of Prarie Swale Trail. Later in the year, it will sport bright yellow flowers. It will take years of herbicide application to finally eliminate the last generation of masses like this.

Earth Hour night hike:

hear, see, feel, smell

life on the grassland

More than 30 people hiked Orland Grassland during Earth Hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., March 25. The night was misty and chilly, but any discomfort experienced by the hikers was rewarded with a full-on sensory experience of nature after dark.

Pay Hayes reports, "We heard every sound American Woodcocks make—the peeps, the whirls and flutters—throughout the grassland. They were everywhere. We heard snipes, we think....We heard frogs. We walked through ephemeral streams making their way through the grass: 'Look! It’s flowing! There’s a current!'  We felt the mist on our faces.  We experienced nature through all our senses."


Hikers saw dimly through the foggy haze, assisted only by flashlights pointed toward the ground and the green glow of light stick necklaces. They had the rare chance to experience silence, broken only by the soft sounds of nature.


Returning from the hike along Birdsong Trail, one hiker exclaimed, with some disgust, "Ugh! We're almost back; I smell LaGrange Road!" 

Hikers gather for post-hike treats, lingering at the grassland until rain shut down the event shortly after 10 p.m. The Earth Hour hike was initiated and organized by Becky Erickson. Special assistance was provided by Bill Fath, Mike McNamee, and Marnie Baker. Photos by Pat Hayes.

The Earth Hour night hike was specially permitted by the Cook County Forest Preserves. All forest preserves, including Orland Grassland, are open to the public only from dawn to dusk.