Environmental Almanac

A walk on the wild side with three U of I students

Most residents of central Illinois are familiar with Busey Woods in Urbana, but for three U of I students, it’s new territory.
Walk leader Greg Lambeth pointing into the woods at a bird (not visible).

Christina Lopez

For the next couple of weeks of Environmental Almanacs, Rob Kanter will be joined by students from the School of Earth, Society, and Environment who are developing their skills to communicate about environmental topics.

Most residents of central Illinois are familiar with Busey Woods in Urbana, but for some U of I students, it’s new territory.

Hi I’m Chloe, I’m Katie, and I’m Christina.

QmlyZCB3YWxrIHBhcnRpY2lwYW50cyBvbiB0aGUgdHJhaWwgaW4gQnVzZXkgV29vZHMuChloe:  On the first Sunday in March, the three of us went our very first bird walk which also happened to be the first bird walk of the season in Busey Woods coordinated by members of the Champaign County Audubon Society at Busey Woods in Urbana.

Christina: When we pulled into the parking lot on that brisk 32-degree morning and asked ourselves . . .

Katie: what do three college students know about birding?

Chloe: As it turns out not much, but we were up for the challenge to learn more. That began with learning about Busey Woods itself, a 59-acre forest fragment in Urbana.

Christina: Back in the 1960s, Busey Woods was under development to be grounds for commercial dumping with the hopes of being turned into an industrial park. But through citizen action, people fought back and ultimately succeeded in preserving these woods for recreational use, where they now stand today as the site for our Sunday morning bird walk program with Greg Lambeth.

Katie: Lambeth has been leading the bird walks with the nature center for about the last 15 years, since the death of friend and fellow birder Bob Chapel. Lambeth takes birders of all levels under his wing, pointing out different species and bird calls along the walk for fellow birders to photograph, listen to, and enjoy.

Chloe: Lambeth said that although it’s been a mild winter that the start of the birding season is a sign of spring for him.

This time of the year you’re not going to see a lot, its just to fun to out and walking around. It was even fun last year . . . to me, and I don’t know how other people describe it, it’s just like, it may be really cold but it still kinda symbolically means spring is on its way and we’ll have our first 60-65 degree walk, you know on our third or fourth walk. It’s just . . . this was not a long winter but in long winters it helps, show spring is on its way.”

Christina: And I think the three of us really agreed with Lambeth’s connection to the bird walk and spring.

Katie:Despite the chill in the air the walk really made us all feel refreshed, and we were genuinely excited to see the different bird species that live in our own neighborhood.

QSBjb29wZXJhdGl2ZSB3aW50ZXIgd3Jlbi4=Chloe: Something I though was cool was that we got to see Winter Wrens. Which Lambeth told us are usually really uncooperative for walks because they’re so small and hide in the brush.

So the next Sunday you find yourself looking for something new to experience, we suggest heading over to the nature center in Urbana and joining the birders at 7:30 a.m. for a bird walk.