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Field Trip:

Metropolitan Sanitary District Wetlands

West of Canton, IL -- Oct. 27, 2007  Map  Satellite

Photo Gallery 

26 members and guests of the Peoria Audubon Society traveled by car pool to a private facility that is owned by the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District (a.k.a. Metropolitian Water Reclamation District), just west of Canton, IL.  The 14,000+ acre wetlands were originally purchased by the Chicago MSD 40+ years ago with the intent of using the formerly strip mined land as a location to transport sludge from the Chicago area. 

The original intent was to ship the sludge to the Canton facility for use as a fertilizer for farming.  Over the years, perhaps due to economics and the logistics of transporting the semi-liquid sludge from barges in the Illinois River (pipe?), the shipment of sludge was stopped.  In the interim, the lakes, wetlands, and woodlands serves as a wildlife refuge for migrating water birds. 

Some farming operations are going on, but much of the acreage simultaneously functions as a refuge. 

Hundreds of geese in the morning mist

The MSD facility serves as a resting place and food source for several thousand geese, ducks, and waterfowl to winter just a few miles west of Canton, IL. 

Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, American Coots, ...

As the sun warmed up the air, the members had an opportunity to view a number of waterfowl species.  From one of the high ground locations, we all were scoping the water perhaps 1/2 mile into the distance and, thanks to Pete's sharp eyes, spotted a very unusual bird for the area.  Because of the distance, persistence paid off as we had a confirmed Western Grebe.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get a picture, but the distant bird had the proper markings.

As we ate lunch, Dennis tried digiscoping the geese and mute swans in a nearby lake.

Canada Geese

Mute Swans Resting in one of the myriad lakes at MSD   

Holli looking over the digiscoping setup

The Peoria Audubon Society wishes to thank the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District for the opportunity to visit their facility.


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