Guest post by Brett Peto, board of directors, member
On the sunny Sunday before Thanksgiving, I joined Janice and Gary for a delightful afternoon tour of the Preserve. We entered off the road, walking past an elegant sign marking the property. Soon, it and every other sign in the area will display a QR code directing folks to this website, in the hopes they’ll learn more and be inspired to support Aull Nature Preserve (ANP).
There were plenty of pleasant sights and sounds throughout the day, many of them arriving on wings. Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), which have arrived in Chicagoland from their breeding grounds in Canada, and northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), which are year-round residents of Lake County, flitted about. A red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) chatted from a distance, always seeming to stay a hundred feet or so in front of us.
On two occasions, Gary spotted a resident great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), perched and in flight. Janice noticed the four-toed tracks of a mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) imprinted on a dusting of snow atop a half-frozen creek. And, heard before seen, a group of sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis) passed low overhead, sharing a small glimpse of their migratory journey with us for a moment.
We walked the perimeter of the property, then headed east to the heart-shaped pond at, well, the heart of the Preserve. It was beautiful to see, an oasis within an oasis, surrounded by serenity, blue sky and snags that provide great nesting habitat for birds. There was sunshine in the air, as well as lively conversation about all sorts of subjects: nature, conservation, music, health, family stories and future plans.
After 90 minutes—or perhaps it was 120—we exited and enjoyed more conversation over cups of tea and slices of delicious zucchini bread. It’s been said before, but nature is one of the great uniters, something all of us have in common. The Preserve and ANP’s mission are already stunning, and yet, there is more fantastic, exciting potential to explore.
I’m beyond grateful to be part of the team working to preserve, protect and restore this pocket of peace in Lake Bluff.