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Eola Road Grasslands

This site is a restricted area and is currently not open to the public. The exception being that Eola Road north of Batavia Road is open to vehicular traffic but any observations must be made from the road side. Eola Road south of Batavia Road is entirely closed to public access, however, portions of the fields south of Batavia Road and East of Eola Road known as the “Dog Training Area” can be accessed from Batavia Road for viewing of the adjacent fields in this area.

The fields of non-native grasslands along Eola Road, provide the best habitat on site for grassland birds. For convenience, the grasslands can be divided into three parts. The "North Eola Grasslands" occupy both sides of Eola Road north of Batavia Road. The "Dog Training Area" lies to the east of Eola Road, between Batavia Road and Swenson Road. The "South Eola Grasslands" are also east of Eola Road, but south of the canal connecting Lake Law to Swenson Road Pond. Each summer since 2000, Henslow's Sparrows have been found in at least one of the three sections. Sedge Wrens and Grasshopper Sparrows are regular breeders in the "South Eola Grasslands" and in the past a pair of Upland Sandpipers were regular summer residents of the "North Eola Grasslands". These areas also produce more typical grassland species including Savannah Sparrow, Dickcissel, Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark. This area has also been a fairly regular wintering site for Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers. When there is a good snow cover, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs can sometimes be seen feeding along the edges of the road.

There are a couple of low areas in the "North Eola Grasslands" which usually hold water throughout the spring. The pool just west of the road at the north end of the grassland, is known as the "Phalarope Pond" since Fermilab’s first record of Red-necked Phalarope (1987), was found at there. This pond can be checked for migrating shorebirds in the spring, however, by fall migration the cattails make viewing of shorebirds nearly impossible. During late spring and the breeding season this little wet pocket has produced Least Bittern, Sora and Virginia Rail. When water levels are right in the spring the other ephemeral ponds can also hold migrating shorebirds ave have also produced a number of rarities such as Tundra Swans, Cinnamon Teal (1998), and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Pied-billed Grebes have been found nesting in these ponds on several occasions.

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