user 8638852
Group Organizer
Spring Grove, IL
Post #: 24
Here are some great ideas from the thread below (that I deleted) about the Botanic Gardens Meetup:

Hi Sandi,
I think Lake County Forest Preserves have a lot to offer along with the State Parks up here:
I second the fact that "Independence Grove" is great in the summer and fall, for foliage, lake shots and the "Japanese Garden",... "McDonald Woods", is also my favorite for wildflowers, marshes and woods,... "Volo Bog" State Park has unique wildlife and plants along with volunteer naturalists...
"Moraine Hills State Park" is "gorgeous" and I have heard that "Illinois Beach State Park" is a great site for bird photography... It would be nice to have a first meetup soon to capture the Spring scenery!

Linda Flynn
I am fine with going to a few local forest preserves, the lake (Michigan or Fox) the Volo Bog, etc. Starved Rock is awesome. I know it's about an hour and a half from Lake County but so worth the drive. Just let me know where we are going and when and if my schedule is open my husband Bruce and I will be there. Just have to get out in the garage and find my tripod!

Wow, how exciting to have such enthusiasm for this meet up...what about Forest Preserves in Lake County? I know Independence Grove has alot of wild flowers in the summer months. The fall colors are also beautiful there. I have not been out there yet to see what Spring flowers they have around. I can't wait to meet you all.

Tiffany Whisler
If you want other ideas for places, I love Crabtree Nature Preserve (it's in Palatine, I think) and Cuba Marsh is also very nice. The Chicagoland group did a Meetup to go see the heron rookery in Busse Woods - that would be SOOOOO cool!!!!! The group size was VERY limited, but I totally understand the reason for that - it would be nice if there could be multiple trips so everyone who wanted to go could go, though (don't know if that's possible but it's a thought). The forest preserves offer a wealth of areas, and depending on how far people want to go, there's state parks within relatively reasonable distances. Thank you again for starting this group - looking forward to meeting everyone!!!!

Hey Sandi!
That would be awesome if we could go to a State Park at sometime. There was also an area in the Chain-O-Lakes State Park that was nice for photographing.

Michael Margolies

I am open most of the time but suggest we do every other meetup on a Saturday. Some people still go to church on Sundays or have family obligations. As this is a nature group I'd also be open to some camp outs if the location demands. Sometimes it's hard to run into a play shoot a couple hours and leave and often the prime twilight or morning magic hours don't fit with a drop in and shoot situation.

Christine Wolfe
I work every other Saturday but I'll try to work my schedule around whatever is decided. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and taking some awesome pics! I know we're primarily into nature photography, but the lake and Chicago skyline at night is awesome as well.

user 9513486
Elmhurst, IL
Post #: 2
I was at the Anderson Gardens on Mothers Day. It's a great place but they don't allow tripods.

A former member
Post #: 6
I love Anderson Gardens!!!!!! I will go there anytime. I don't camp. My idea of ruffing it is the Holiday Inn. If there is a hotel nearby, I would be more inclined to go tongue
user 8638852
Group Organizer
Spring Grove, IL
Post #: 26
Theresa!!!! Awww.... No bugs? Cute little bugs? Chirping lil froglets??? not even with an air mattress??? lol! no just kiddin... wink

That's OK!!!!
I'm sure there will be tons of hotels in Devils lake. I bet some others will opt for that too.... we'll all stay connected during the trip even if you guys hotel it! You can always come over to our camp site for a bon fire, smores, and lookin at the stars!
Then go to the hotel and snuggle in...

Ed C.
user 3621631
Chicago, IL
Post #: 128
Hi everybody,I have organized a few meetups with the chicagoland digital meet up group. Mainly illinois state beach and the great blue heron rookery in busse woods.The desplaines river trail offers some possibilitys also.I see someone wrote about the apostle islands they are great.Smoky mountains,shawnne national park? I'm ready to go
user 8638852
Group Organizer
Spring Grove, IL
Post #: 31
cool Hi All, great ideas, and good point on the Devils Lake Camping Idea. We need to take a poll or something and see if interest is there and I will look into the camping details asap!!! I'm too busy until the end of next week, but I am going to get all the info together and get everyone's ideas on it... please chime in here if camping Devils lake for fall is what everyone wants to try for... hopefully we could get the spots... we'll see soon...

talk soon,

user 8638852
Group Organizer
Spring Grove, IL
Post #: 130

(Bob and I are signed up and some others have shown interest).


"Introduction to RAW Workflow"

Register there at:

"Discover how to make RAW work for you by understanding one of the most vital tools in digital capture. Whether you are shooting with a high-end point-and-shoot camera, DSLR camera or digital back, this seminar will explore the similarities and differences which exist in virtually all RAW processing applications. You will learn how to adjust your images for color, contrast, exposure and sharpness; how to run batch conversions and how to gain complete control of your images. You’ll be amazed at how much time and energy you will save with RAW processing!

Please bring your camera and manual to class.
Skill level: Beginner with a basic understanding of photography including ISO and aperture".

Fee: $35.00

When Saturday, January 16, 2010 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Where Calumet Chicago
1111 N. Cherry Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60642

Capacity 24 (14 remaining as of 11/21/09)


let us know here if you are coming!!!

user 8638852
Group Organizer
Spring Grove, IL
Post #: 143
Take a look at this folks... Bob H. has a wonderful idea for a Meetup! Here is the idea for photographing cranes... Anyone interested? Read this and let us know!!! If so we'll get it in on our calender for this season/year! Also, when exactly do you guys think we should go? Has anyone done this before and can give advice. Bob, if you see this post, what do you think on time of year to go? should we go soon or wait?

Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area

Cranes congregate at Goose Pasture.

AFTER THE FIELDS HAVE YIELDED THEIR LAST HARVEST, chill north winds signal the time when greater sandhill cranes, Grus canadensis, head to warmer climes. From their nesting grounds in the northern Great Lakes states and provinces, the gray birds will set their internal compasses on a southeasterly course toward Florida and southern Georgia. Ten thousand, twenty thousand — and in peak years as many as thirty thousand birds — will stop to rest at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, 50 miles inland from Lake Michigan near Medaryville, Indiana.

This seasonal mass-gathering of the Sandhills is a marvel that attracts birders, nature lovers, and the just plain curious. The number of human spectators in past seasons has topped 30,000, with busy days drawing upwards of 200 visitors.

The long-legged, long-necked sandhill cranes depend on this wetland habitat for protection and rest, while the surrounding agricultural land in this still-rural region provides them with meals of waste grain, small rodents, and insects. Such large numbers of cranes may also choose Jasper-Pulaski for its convenient location along an almost direct line between their start and end destinations, according to property manager Jim Bergens of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which owns and manages the site. They also seem to be funneled here along Lake Michigan, an obstacle they won’t fly over.

Beginning with their arrival as early as August, the cranes — which are joined by Canada geese, ducks, and occasionally even federally endangered whooping cranes — stake claim to Jasper-Pulaski’s 300-acre Goose Pasture, a field planted in winter wheat and surrounded by wetlands, where they’ll stay for three or four weeks. As early, smaller flocks continue south, massive new flocks flood in. By mid-November — peak fall viewing time — daily crane counts swell to 15,000, and sometimes 30,000 during warmer autumns. They congregate again February through March, though the autumn stopover yields the greatest numbers of cranes at one time.

During the daytime, motorists can observe cranes on the wing or feeding along US 421 and along Highway 143 near the main entrance to Jasper-Pulaski. The cranes forage the open fields within a ten-mile radius of their main staging grounds. They return to Goose Pasture around sunset to loaf and socialize, before flying off to sleep in the safety of the open wetlands. The birds’ trilling calls — likened by some to a wobbly trumpet burst — rise to maximum volume just after sunrise and again near sunset, the best hours for viewing their peculiar dance. In this ritual, one crane bows low and then jumps straight into the air. The pair will call in unison, and often one will fling bits of grass while jumping. Considered a courtship ritual in February and March (when the cranes come through on the way to nest up north), the fall version of the dance is thought to be more of a bonding ceremony between lifelong mates.

Visitors can watch from an elevated viewing platform equipped with three scopes. “It’s quite a spectacle,” said assistant property manager Jason Gilbert. “We have people who come all the way from overseas. Ninety percent of the total eastern crane population stops over here in the fall.”

According to Gilbert, commercial hunting and habitat loss early in the 20th century — here and elsewhere — had caused sandhill crane numbers to diminish. Nesting Sandhills disappeared from Jasper County after 1929, the same year Jasper-Pulaski became a game farm and preserve. But populations began to rebound in the 1940s, and by fall of 1967, the count at Jasper-Pulaski was at 2,500. No cranes were nesting though.

Beginning around 1982, thanks to enforcement of crane protections and efforts to save their habitat, birds began nesting once again in Indiana.

Today, an average of 2,000 sandhill cranes stay at Jasper-Pulaski through the winters and summers. And some that stay here are breeding. “I’ve seen a couple nesting pairs this year,” Gilbert said, adding that he’s come across a few colts, or young cranes. The nests are in remote areas of the 8,062-acre preserve.

All visitors must register at the sign-in shelter near the headquarters, where they can also pick up maps and information. To the west is a shaded picnic area and restrooms. Visitors should dress for the weather and consider bringing binoculars. The preserve is on Eastern Time (one hour later than Chicago). For more information, call (219) 843-4841.

Train buffs can visit the Monon Connection Museum, 10012 U.S. 421, in North Monon, Indiana, (219) 253-4101, 16 miles south of Jasper-Pulaski. The museum offers a comprehensive collection of railroad memorabilia. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. $6, age 6 and under are free.

Prairie Moon Orchard, on Route 421 South between Francesville and Monon, (219) 253-6383, offers an old-fashioned general store, 18 varieties of apples, fresh cider and pies, and locally raised beef, pork, and bison. Rustic cabins are available. Open April 1 to December 30, with an apple festival on September 23 and a Roundup on October 2.

The Whistle Stop, (219) 253-4100, next to the Monon Connection Museum, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Diners can watch G-scale trains move along overhead tracks while waiting for their orders. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fingerhut Bakery & Café, 119 Lane Street in North Judson, (574) 896-5937, serves breakfast and lunch made with their fresh-baked breads. Open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Grand Central Station restaurant, 301 Lane Street in North Judson, (574) 896-3010, honors the town’s heritage in name and with memorabilia housed in a circa-1911 building. Walk across the unusual 66-foot, full-scale railroad tracks enclosed in glass while waiting for your order. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday Champagne Brunch buffet 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Monday.

Bedding Down
A temporary nesting place for birders is the Holiday Inn Express, 4788 Nesbitt Drive in Rensselaer, Indiana, (866) 866-7560, about 30 minutes from the cranes’ refuge. The hotel has 69 rooms ranging from $69 to $85, a crane video, and updated crane counts.

*This sounds like a great opportunity to practice bird photography and improve our skills, as there are apparently so many of them!
A former member
Post #: 100 that's a lot of info...!
I'm heading to Utah...Going to visit Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks in mid-May of 2010...
Anybody interested, let me know...!
A former member
Post #: 25
Hi Sandy the best time to go seems to be happening about now. There are 14.500 at last count, that's up 4,000 from two weeks ago. I recommend get there slightly before sunrise to see them all fly in to the field with the sun at your back. I leave at 4am from Wheaton, and get there just at the right time, slightly before 6.­
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