Tag Archives: fox river

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A Walk Down to the River

It was starting to snow and 14 inches were being called for within the next 36 hours, I thought now would be a good time to take a walk down to the river.

On the other side of the river is a huge field ringed with trees. There are no homes in that stretch. Three deer could be seen in the field. They looked like they were playing in the snow. They would run, then stop. Then run again. Whenever they would stop they would look across the river at me. I had to be a good 150 yards away, but they were still cautious of this lone figure wandering down the hill toward them. Then they would go back to playing.

The river was pretty empty. A few geese were in the open water and I counted a half dozen blue herons spread out and hunkered down on the edge of the ice. Hunting I assume.

I got to the edge of the bluff, still a good 30 feet above the river and started wandering down the thin tree line. In one of the tallest trees that hangs out over the river were a couple of adult eagles. Of course I had to see how close I could get to them.

One didn’t like that and took off. The other didn’t seem to mind so much.

Debbie Granat and her daughter pulled up on the side of the road and I wandered over to talk. Her husband Larry started the Facebook page The Kendall County Bird Page and I rely on him for all things eagles in this stretch of the river. One of these days I’ll have a better camera and I can quit asking him for eagle images. Or, I’ll never tell him I got a better camera, keep borrowing eagle images and give him the publicity he deserves.

That sounds better.

After they left I turned around and the skittish eagle was back. I tried stalking up to them again, and again the skittish one took off. Decided to leave them alone and head downstream.

Off on the island was another eagle. In that short period of time, more geese were coming down to the river and a couple of hundred of them were circling the area.

I live about 80 feet away from a pretty heavily wooded ravine. I walked along the top of the bluff, heading for the mouth of the ravine. The tracks of deer, squirrels and what I assume are either coyote or fox were all using the ravine like a highway. I tracked them to the top of the bluff overlooking the ravine.

On a good day wandering down the steep slope of the bluff is a no brainer. Conditions did not make this a good day. All I could imagine was gravity taking over and suddenly finding myself in a heap at the bottom. The tracks being seen were all old, I convinced myself. No point wandering down there.

A juvenile bald eagle drifted overhead and landed in a tree a hundred feet away. This one was on to me, it took off long before I could get any closer.

In that short time, hundreds more geese had arrived. The honking was starting to echo down the river valley. The only ducks I can recognize from a distance are mallards, but I can see that others are different even if I can’t identify them. I saw a couple of other different types of ducks mixed in with all the other waterfowl.

The other day while out shoveling snow at sunset I stopped counting the geese flying overhead when I got to 500. Today, the geese weren’t coming in from north or south. The bulk of them were coming straight down the river out of the west.

This is what I’m going to miss when I move at the end of the month, that ability to wander down a hill and see such a variety of wildlife. Granted, I’ll still be living two blocks from the river, but it’s slightly more urban. There will still be plenty of geese and ducks around, but for the deer and coyote and the bulk of the eagles I’ll have to walk a good half mile downstream.

Maybe a little less.

I’ll try to think of that as a motivating factor, hiking that extra half mile.

I could use the exercise.

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It’s 7 PM and I just came in from wandering around while smoking a cheap cigar. It has to be about 30 degrees out there, no wind, the snow is falling straight down and the neighborhood is dead quiet.

Down on the river a few geese were honking and at the mouth of the ravine, coyotes were howling.

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Eagle Watching on the Fox River

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think there would come a day when I could go eagle watching on the Fox River. And yet, from my front porch I see them all the time floating down the river at eye level. My house sits on a bluff that’s probably 60 feet up from the river and it’s hard to mistake these big birds for anything else.

Now and then one will come floating over my house. A couple of years ago, in order to get away from a flock of annoying crows, one even landed in the tree in front of my house, directly over my head.

There are a few eagles that live along the Fox River somewhere year round. I see them all the time in a couple of stretches I like to fish, but during the winter over the past three years they’ve been arriving in ever increasing numbers.

This colder than usual December has locked up the river with ice much sooner than usual. Normally it doesn’t look like this till nearly the end of January. At the end of January of this year I did a couple of reports on the eagles I saw. Twenty one day before I quit counting and 39 on another. If you have an interest in seeing the eagles near the Yorkville area, I give more details on how to go about it in those two posts.

Bald Eagles on the Fox River

Bald Eagles on the Fox River Update

This year the reports started appearing early. Larry Granat, who took all the photos in this post on December 12th, put up a report of seeing 6 bald eagles in the stretch below my house in Yorkville. If you haven’t done it, you should Like Larry’s Facebook page called The Kendall County Bird Page. He takes quite a few interesting photos of the bird populations around the area.

Of course, over the weekend I had to walk down the hill to the river to see this for myself. Below my house, out on the island, were four eagles. Down the road a bit, closer to the dam, were two more. The next day I ran into Larry out at Hoover Forest Preserve. That morning he said he saw 14 eagles in that same stretch.

Earlier this week I heard from another friend that likes to stay anonymous about another dozen eagles seen near the dam in Montgomery.

And a little while ago I got a note from Bob France about seeing 25 eagles up in Elgin today. He said 13 to 14 of them were all in one tree. You should go check out his Facebook page Bob Outdoors where he’s put up a bunch of photos he’s been taking.

When I was a kid I assumed that by the time I got to this age I would never see an eagle in the wild. Or I would have to go to Alaska or somewhere in Canada for the opportunity.

Now I walk out on my front porch and there they are, floating up and down the river. I go fishing over the summer and one will come floating by over my head. This weekend I’ll go for a drive up the river and I’d be surprised if I don’t see at least 30 of them.

I think it was Dale Bowman that said that one day I’ll take them for granted and view them as common place.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

I hope it never does.

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All photos in this post courtesy of Larry Granat of The Kendall County Bird Page on Facebook.

Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Successful Spawn

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.
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For whatever reason, fish of all species like to migrate up creeks in the spring looking for spawning grounds. Was out along Blackberry Creek the other day when I saw the first sign of a successful spawn.

Black bass, smallies I’m sure. This is well above where the dam was removed and a good sign.

Since I started fishing the creek around the first of April, I’ve caught around 300 smallies, give or take a few. I’ve missed the hookset on nearly as many. As I’ve worked my way upstream I know I’ve mentioned in my fishing reports that I could smell the fish spawning. Was nice to see that my nose doesn’t fail me.

In a short 20 foot stretch I saw a few hundred of these baby bass. I can only imagine how many more are further upstream.

Not much in the way of pictures for all the fishing I’ve been doing on the creek. The weather has been kind of dreary, not much sun. I rely on the sun to give dimension and bright color to the surroundings. We’ve had little of that.

Hope to change that this coming weekend. Supposed to be beautiful out, lots of sunshine for at least one day and I’ll be venturing much further upstream.

In the mean time, I did find a flower growing on the bank…

I did take some pictures of some nice fish, but they’re pictures of fish.

Picture a fish, specifically a smallmouth bass.

The Real Blackberry Creek

The real Blackberry Creek and why I like to wander it.

Actually, most of the creeks around here that I fish look a lot like this, which is why I fish as many of them as possible.

You don’t get this out on the Fox River.

That would be a deer watching me fish off in the background.

That would be a deer watching me fish off in the background.

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Post storm.

Post storm.