Hummingbirds, honeysuckle in focus at Beaver Dam

Hummingbirds, honeysuckle in focus at Beaver Dam

8 10 17

By Kathleen Clark

The recent cooler temperatures have made it perfect for enjoying Macoupin County’s gem of Beaver Dam State Park. The hummingbirds are out in large numbers this year, and 54 were banded at a July 13 event. Aug. 23, beginning at 10 a.m., a second banding event will be held before the birds begin their migration to South America this fall.

Beaver Dam is the site of a pilot program that many conservation organizations are noticing. “This program has really worked fantastic,” said Site Superintendent Tim Guinan. “There are a lot of professionals looking at how fast we’ve been able to get a handle on the invasive bush honeysuckle.” Through the efforts of Illinois Department of Natural Resource, their Illinois Recreational Access Program and the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, a new approach to battling invasive honeysuckle is on the brink of widespread use. While it is still in the testing phases, there is much promise in an aerial application of herbicide to battle the plant.

Bush honeysuckle grows rapidly and is plaguing timber throughout Illinois. It’s a dense undergrowth plant and affects the environment negatively. It overtakes native plants and affects the habitat and food availability for the state’s timber wildlife.

Removal of the species is labor-intensive and requires a precise management plan. Bob Caveny of DNR’s IRAP program says the aerial program being used at Beaver Dam is ideal for heavily infested areas of bush honeysuckle.

Bush honeysuckle is one of the last plants to be green during the growing season. Because of this, a broad topical application of herbicide by helicopter or airplane can be done after all the other trees and plants have lost their leaves. This process, followed by spring prescribed burning has shown impressive results. Caveny estimates that 75 to 90 percent of bush honeysuckle at Beaver Dam treated by this pilot program has been killed.

It is noted the herbicide used is an aquatic version to minimize detrimental runoff. Also, Caveny cautions this is in the testing phases and not a common practice at this time. IDNR staff is in the process of preparing a written report on their work.

The program began three years ago, and in that short time, several native plants have already shown an impressive comeback.

Efforts are still being made through traditional removal efforts by Guinan and IDNR employees. Visitors may notice their efforts along the marsh area this year.

As the fall 2017-18 hunting season approaches there are a few changes to note.

There have been some bills introduced that appear likely to be signed into law, but are still sitting on the governor’s desk as of press time. It is likely the number of bobcat allowed to be harvested will be limited to 350 (last year IDNR set the limit at 500). Also, both state houses approved the use of crossbows by all for the entire archery season, as well as for the taking of coyotes. These are not effective this season, but something that is likely to be in the future. The 2017-18 deer season will still limit that crossbow hunters have a disabled permit or the hunter be 62 years or older. Youth can use a crossbow October 1 through the 2nd Sunday after Thanksgiving, and all eligible hunters can use a crossbow the second Monday after the second firearm season commences through the end of the season.

Additionally, archery hunters on private land with a valid firearm permit can hunt with their bow during firearm season.

Upcoming hunting dates of interest are the deadline for the third and final lottery for a firearm or muzzleloader permit on Aug. 18 and the first waterfowl deadline on Aug. 31. Bobcat permits begin online Sept. 1.

Guinan says the cooler mornings this month have been ideal for squirrel hunters to take advantage of the sport. A quick stop in the office for a windshield permit is required, and squirrel season continues through Feb. 15. Anglers have also been successful at the 59-acre lake, especially with catfish, notes Guinan.

Attendance numbers have been higher than last year at this time, and the Plainview Restaurant and Winery has had a steady flow of patrons.