Author Archives: Connie Zink

Jr. Stewards Help the Monarch Butterflies

On Saturday, October 5th 2014, the Jr. Stewards and families braved the cold and windy day to harvest Common Milkweed, Whorled Milkweed, and Butterfly Weed seed pods. Their goal was to collect the seed and then disperse it in other areas of the prairie to make additional suitable habitat for hosting the Monarch Butterfly. Hopefully, next Summer, we will have additional plants to aid the Monarch Butterfly when they pass through our area.

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit Update

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit


Attention!!! Ornate Box Turtle Update from Jeramie Strickland and Lost Mound Unit:

I have attached photos that were taken August 26th 2014 at Lost Mound Unit inside of the turtle enclosure. The four hatchlings came from a nest that was laid June 9th 2014. The female was translocated May 2013 from Local Redevelopment Authority property, with the help of the John Rucker and his turtle dogs. The female was moved out of ‘harms way’ because the area is slated for railroad development in the near future. This same female also nested (3 eggs) inside of the enclosure at Lost Mound Unit June 7th 2013. Unfortunately, only one of the eggs seemed to successfully hatch due to partial nest depredation.
This brings our population estimate at Lost Mound Unit to ~57 ornates:
-14 hatchlings from natural nests over the years
-24 headstarts
-10 adult males (1
sub adult) -8 adult females

Huge thanks to the partners, volunteers, and staff for their support and assistance with this project!

Jeramie T. Strickland
Wildlife Biologist

I forgot to mention, notice the penny in the one photo and you can get an idea of the size of the baby turtles!

Posted By Connie Zink

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit

Ornate Box Turtles at Lost Mound Unit

Bald Eagle Viewing Tours Ending Soon

Bald Eagles by Michael Fitzgerald 1

With the beginning of Spring only six days away, Bald Eagle viewing in huge numbers will be ending soon as the migrating Bald Eagles will be returning to their northern homelands. This Saturday, March 15th is one of the Stewards last scheduled tours for viewing Bald Eagles. We will be visiting Lost Mound Unit, Saturday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm in hopes of viewing these magnificent birds as they make their way northward along the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Limited spaces are still available for this van tour. We will meet at Lost Mound Unit Office at 1:45 for our trek into the closed area of the Old Savanna Army Depot. Pre-registration is required and you may sign up by calling Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center 815-273-2732 by 3:00 pm Friday, March 14th, or emailing The tour is free and open to the public. Tours are sponsored by Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For a complete listing of tours and events please visit our website

Juvenile Bald Eagle by Connie Zink 2

Spring is Coming

Think SpringBelieve it or not Spring is coming, only six more days until the official start of Spring! What better way to celebrate the start of this new season than to start planning a trip to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center 7071 Riverview Road Thomson, Illinois 61285. Golf Cart Tours of the Refuge will resume on Thursday, May 1st 2014 and run through September. The tours run the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month and the 3rd Saturday. Special tours for groups may also be scheduled by calling 815-273-2732 ext 116 or emailing Please check our website at for a complete list of golf cart tour dates.


Kids Fishing Day – September 7th

"First Fish"

Get Hooked on Fishing

Local area youth, ages 5-12, are encouraged to pre-register now for Kids Fishing Day at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. A youth fishing clinic will be held at Frog Pond on September 7, 2013 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Children 6 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during the day. The Service will provide poles (for those that do not have their own), bait, lessons, and some good ‘ol fishing fun. Following an exciting day of fishing, there will be a “shore lunch” hot dog cookout.

Contact the District Office, at (815) 273-2732, to register your child or volunteer to help. Registration ends September 5 at 4 pm. Please bring your own fishing pole, if you have one.

The Office is located at 7071 Riverview Road Thomson, Illinois. Participants will meet at the Frog Pond parking lot, which is located 1.5 miles south of Savanna on RT. 84. Look for the banners along the road. Listen to WCCI FM 100.3 for cancellation notice.

Amazing Refuge Race – August 17th

Amazing Refuge Race

2nd Annual Amazing Refuge Race – August 17th, 2013

Armed with GPS units, teams, will “race” by attempting to complete a series of challenges located on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Teams will be given a set of coordinates for a specific location which they will find using a handheld GPS unit.  Once at that location, teams must work together to complete a task. When that task is successfully completed, teams will receive the next set of coordinates for the next location. Those who finish all tasks and arrive at the finish first, win!

Sound like fun? You may bring your own GPS unit or borrow one for the day. The event will begin at the Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center located at 7071 Riverview Rd, Thomson, IL 61285. Prior to the race, we will be holding an introductory GPS course at 8:00 a.m. to learn how to use the unit. The race will then begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude around 1:00 pm.

Registration is required for the race! A team is comprised of a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 6 people. Bicycles are required for the mode of travel for this year’s event.

Registration deadline is August 16th. Call 815-273-2732 ext. 116 or email to register or receive more information. There is no cost to enter and is open to all ages.