Morels, fish, wild asparagus, fests, paddling, bison: WWW Chicago outdoors

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First wild asparagus of the year in 2018.
Provided by Brian Schlenger

Well, things certainly changed this week and the arrival of spring/summer makes for a much more varied Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

My week was made with the readers sending notes this week on first finds or spottings for wild asparagus, morels and hummingbirds.

Brian Schlengertweeted me the photo above and this note:

First asparagus of the year for me.

Yes, you do get bonus points for using the Sun-Times as your time signature.Looking for morel mushrooms and wild asparagus will rank high on my list for this weekend.

Georgiana Dodd made my day when on Wednesday when she emailed about seeing her first hummingbird of the year on Tuesday in the south suburbs. Which I found notable because I had my first one at the feeder Wednesday.

It’s taken awhile, and everything is behind, but spring comes in.

Today, I think conditions are OK, I will be joining others in working on an edible trail project today and planting some paw paw trees among other things.

With the weather this week, the IHSA bass fishing sectionals were moved to Monday. That is where I will be for weigh-in, probably the Des Plaines sectional.

I have a turkey hunting and fishing trip planned for next week. More on that some other time.

With that, on to the regular stuff of this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors, and it is another eclectic mix of stuff.

PADDLING: The Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle is 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Willow Road Dam in Winnetka. Click here for details.

VOLKSWALK: Now here is something a bit farther afield for me but I am curious about Volkswalk being held by the Windy City Walkers as par of Downers Groves’ Founders Day.

In case you’re wondering, a Volkswalk is a non-competitive untimed walk past areas of natural beauty or historic interest promoting fun, fitness and friendship.

Here are some details from Irena Paronis, president of Windy City Walkers:

The Downers Grove Founders Day Volkswalk offers the option of a self-guided (via written instructions and map) or group walk through the downtown, neighborhoods and parks of Downers Grove, with an emphasis on historic sites within the town. Two distance options are offered – 10k (6.2 miles) or 5k (3.1 miles), with most of the walk using sidewalks or natural-surfaced walkways. Registration for the Volkswalk will be at the Barn Annex of the Downers Grove Museum, 831 Maple, Downers Grove. Registration is $3, which includes AVA credit for the walk, and will be available from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. The self-guided walk can start at any time after registering. A group walk will be leaving the registration point at 9:30 if you prefer walking with others. The group will be timed to arrive at the Main Street Cemetery for Founders Day ceremonies, which include the laying of a wreath to honor Founder of the Year Captain Walter Blanchard. Following the walk, stay to enjoy other Founders Day activities, including Country in the Park. For more information, or Irena Paronis

MOREL FESTIVALS: This is the weekend for morel festivals. The bigger one is the Midwest Morel Fest centered on Black Park in Ottawa on Saturday. Guided and Championship Hunts (separate sites are 9-11:30 a.m.). Click here for more.

The Stark County Morel Mushroom Festival is also on Saturday in Toulon. Click here for more info.



MORELS:This should be the weekend for morel hunting to really go around our area. Granted I only had one reader, Karl Scherer, report finding one so far this week, but I bet that changes greatly this weekend.

As of today, on the Facebook page for Illinois Morel Mushrooms, a few more reports in our area where confirmed, including one in Cook County. I expect that map to look a whole lot different by Monday.

WILD ASPARAGUS: As the lead photo shows and I hope to find out, wild asparagus is starting to pop.

LAKEFRONT: When wind and weather allows, Lake Michigan should still be OK to good for spring coho and browns.

PERCH REMINDER:Perch fishing on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan is closed through June 15.

COOLING LAKES:Wind and weather again are the limiting factors. but the water temperatures are finally creeping up at Heidecke and more reports come of muskie and walleye.

TURKEY HUNTING:Turkey season continues on in both the north and south zones in Illinois, but the end comes this week in the south zone.

Bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.<br>Provided by Rick Short, Forest Service

Bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
Provided by Rick Short, Forest Service

BISON: In the last several years, the Chicago area (in the broadest sense) has been blessed with the introduction of bison at three nearby sites: Nachusa Grasslands, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Kankakee Sands (the Indiana portion).

The reason I mention that is we are in calving time. All three sites are worth seeing for themselves, but the chance to see a bison calf makes it extra special.

MIDEWIN:Bison calves are arriving at Midewin National Tallgrass Praire near Wilmington. That alone is worth seeing. Also on Sunday, the seasonal guided hikes begin and run weekends through October. The Ranger Trailer are open for the weekends, weather permitting, at the Iron Bridge Trailhead.

Throughout the season, you can talk to volunteer rangers at the Ranger Trailer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. During April, check updates–at or on Twitter at @MidewinNatTP –on whether, depending on weather, the Ranger Trailer will be operating.

Trails are open daily, 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Come out and explore. #ItsAllYours! For the full list of 2018 programs, activities and events at Midewin, see:

OCEAN FILM, MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY:BBC Earth and OceanX Media’s Giant Screen film “Oceans: Our Blue Plant” is at the Museum of Science and Industry’s giant screen theater.

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