Great weather for a few weekend events

The annual Chili Shoot Out will be taking place on Saturday. Instead of the Rockford Speedway grounds, this year’s event will take place at Davis Park in downtown Rockford. While it has been a tradition at the Speedway, I feel the change of venue is great to bring people to downtown Rockford. Expect sunny conditions with temperatures in the upper 70s and lower 80s. Make sure you get there early as the hungriest people will be there early!

Next up is the annual Turkey Testicle Festival in Byron. For many, many years the event occurred in front of the Union Street Station. Because of the fire earlier this year, the event has moved down the street. I talked with the Byron Chamber of Commerce this afternoon. They reported that the folks who owned Union Street have bought Carla’s Pub. So the new venue will be right there on 2nd Street in downtown Byron. Even if you’re a little squeamish when it comes to the food option, don’t worry there are plenty of more mainstream things to eat. I, for one, will be eating a few slices of pizza! Look for sunny skies in the afternoon with temperatures in the lower 80s. Even in the evening, temps should remain in the 70s so keep the jackets at home.

Finally, if the aforementioned gatherings aren’t your thing, bypass both of them but stay on Highway 2. This will be the peak weekend for fall color along the beautiful Rock River! Sunny skies will make it perfect for leaf-peeping and also spotting some eagles near Oregon. Stop at the Blackhawk statue in Oregon and don’t forget to stop at the drive-ins in Byron and Oregon. A stop at John Deere’s home in Grand Detour would be a good …detour too! Arthur’s Deli in Dixon is one of my favorites. If you haven’t been there, it’s worth the stop. The weekend weather will NOT be better for another six months. And I’m not kidding. -ES


Posted under event, weather, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on October 6, 2011

Seasons change

If you’ve followed me on Facebook at all (, you know I spend most of my warm weekends up in Lake Geneva. Occasionally, I will snap a photo in the same place, looking in the same direction just to see later how things change.

Check out these photos from spring, summer, and fall (just taken today). If you have any fall photos, please send them to us


Posted under weather, weather geek, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on October 3, 2011

Whooping cranes learn migration routes from their elders

Eight Whooping Crane chicks, hatched and raised by costumed biologists at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI, arrived Tuesday at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Dodge County. The cranes are part of the Direct Autumn Release project conducted by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP), an international coalition of public and private organizations that is reintroducing this highly imperiled species in eastern North America, part of its historic range.

The Whooping Crane chicks, ranging in age from 10-14 weeks old, spent six weeks at the Necedah NWR in Juneau County, being acclimated to wetland habitat and wild cranes, before arriving at Horicon NWR. While the birds are housed on the refuges, they remain under the watchful eye and supervision of costumed biologists. In mid-late October the cranes will be released into the company of older cranes. The young Whooping Cranes learn the migration route south by following these older birds.

In addition to the eight birds, 10 Whooping Crane chicks are currently being conditioned to follow ultralight aircraft by WCEP project partner Operation Migration at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake and Marquette Counties.

For the past 10 years through this project, ultralight-led Whooping Cranes have been released on the Necedah NWR. Many of these cranes have reached breeding age and have hatched chicks on the refuge. To date, three wild-hatched Whooping Crane chicks have fledged and successfully migrated in this population. This level of nest success is, however, not yet enough to sustain the population. As part of WCEP’s experimentation with improving reproduction in this flock, new locations have been chosen for releasing birds in 2011. These sites are based on what biologists have learned about cranes released at Necedah NWR and their habitat and nesting requirements.

Most of the Whooping Cranes released in previous years spend the summer in central Wisconsin, where they use areas on or near Necedah NWR, as well as other public and private lands. In the spring and fall, project staff from ICF and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources track and monitor the released cranes in an effort to learn as much as possible about their unassisted journeys and the habitat choices they make both along the way and on their summering and wintering grounds.

Founded in 1973, ICF is a 501 c3 organization that works worldwide to conserve cranes and the wetland and grassland ecosystems on which they depend. ICF is dedicated to providing experience, knowledge, and inspiration to involve people in resolving threats to these ecosystems. To learn more about our global conservation efforts, visit:


Posted under wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on September 22, 2011

Yikes! Ready to see a “bugnado” touchdown?

Check this out! Professional Stormchaser Mike Hollingshead shot this video in Northwestern Missouri last month. Record flooding in the region caused thousands, if not millions of bugs to form into “bugnadoes!” To see some very impressive still-photos of the bugs, just click here.

I watched this and thought “I’ve now seen it all!” How about you? -ES

p.s. And “yay” for being able to use the “End of the World” tag once again.

p.p.s. Thanks to Randy Brock, Chief Meteorologist at KTTC for passing this along!


Posted under end of the world, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on August 15, 2011

Strange bug spotted near Cherryvale Mall

Susan Ranahan shared this photo on my Facebook page today.

Instead of looking all over the internet for similar bugs, I showed the photo on 13News at Ten. I received over a dozen guesses with just one person getting it exactly right. Woody Mott of Oregon says he had his bug book handy. This bug is an American Pelecinid. Doing a little research, I found that the stinger/hook is actually a part of the female’s body. The insect’s eggs are deposited deep into the soil onto grubs with the help of the hook.

And apparently they are all over the Midwest. Funny, growing up and living here for a long time I’ve never seen a pelecinid (nor do I know how to pronounce it!)

See more pictures of this bug by clicking here.

Good stuff! -ES


Posted under wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on August 11, 2011

Why have mosquitoes been so bad?

Ouch! Another mosquito bite? That’s what many have been thinking as recent conditions have been perfect for mosquito activity. The combination of heat and rain over the past couple of days are prime for breeding as warm weather brings the female out in search of water to lay her eggs. The torrential rain in the past few weeks makes it easier for her to find a spot for those eggs.

Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn, so if you’re out during those hours it’s important to protect yourself. Below are a couple tips to help prevent mosquito bites, as well as keep them away from your home:

Wear light colored clothes as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Loose-fitting clothes will make it harder for them to sting you too!

Use an insect repellent containing DEET (as it has proven to be most effective).

Having a large fan going on your deck or patio will make it harder for the mosquitoes to fly. (They are pretty weak fliers).

Finally, get rid of any standing water around your home as it will only offer a convenient place for breeding. You can do this by covering trash cans, ensuring that any water-holding containers are empty, and sweeping away puddles after a rain shower.


Posted under safety, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on August 9, 2011

Meteorologist swallows moth on live tv (Must-See Video)

WNCN-TV (Raleigh/Durham, NC) Chief meteorologist Wes Hohenstein was doing the weather Thursday night on NBC17’s 11 p.m. news when all of the sudden a small moth decided it didn’t like what Wes had to say.


Posted under humor, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on August 6, 2011

File this in the “Ewwww” category

The La Crosse National Weather Service Doppler radar is usually used to show the movement of showers and thunderstorms. Tonight, not only are there storms on the radar, there are bugs!

If you’ve ever traveled to the La Crosse area, you know that the Mississippi River widens significantly to the south of the city. This is where millions of mayflies have hatched tonight. The insects are so thick, the doppler is picking them up as thick as a steady rain. Meteorologists there say “sometimes they are so thick, snow plows are needed to clear the bridges. [People] turn off lights to keep them from congregating around the light.”

Thanks to Tim Halbach of the NWS-La Crosse for passing along this video from the local CBS affiliate in La Crosse. Apparently the Mayflies only last about 30 minutes! Perhaps someone with more expertise on these things can chime in. -ES



Posted under wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on August 1, 2011

Dubuque’s Mayfly Mayhem

A car at the Dubuque Auto Outlet covered in dead mayflies Monday  morning
Written by Becca Habegger, KWWL-TV

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -Mayflies, fish flies, barge flies — regardless of the chosen term, these insects hatched from the Mississippi River and swarmed Dubuque Saturday night.Since then, businesses have been busy cleaning up piles of mayfly carcasses. The insects have a life span of less than 24 hours.

Heavy rain Sunday morning plastered the dead mayflies to streets, windows and cars.

That’s no good for the Dubuque Auto Outlet, used car manager Kevin Lynch said.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in 20 years in the business,” he said Monday, standing in a lot where more than 50 cars received a thick coating of mayfly bodies. “This is probably the worst I’ve seen it.”

Mark Wagner is the education director at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. He said the mayflies are a good indication that the Mississippi River is in good shape, as a polluted river couldn’t support such a hatch.

He said Saturday’s hatch was an average size, even though the mayflies reach several miles inland from the river.

“I thought, ‘This is great. We love to shovel snow in the winter, and now we get to shovel fish flies in the summer,'” Lynch said.

Employees spent the day power washing the cars.

Mayflies can hatch out of the upper Mississippi River, as well as other Eastern Iowa rivers and some lakes.


Posted under end of the world, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on July 28, 2011

Behind the scenes at the Today Show (along with a side of Bieber)

David Mizejewski is a regular on the Today Show showcasing rare animals, helping viewers learn more about their habitats and lives. Recently, another member of the National Wildlife Federation tagged along and wrote this article on what it’s like to be behind the scenes at our nation’s #1 morning show.

It’s definitely worth the read! Click on the image to begin now. -ES



Posted under news, wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on June 28, 2011