Thursday, April 4th, 12 Citizens for Conservation volunteers and numerous Cook County Forest Preserve Police and Crabtree Nature Center staff assembled to repeat an annual trek across Baker's Lake, taking Christmas trees to the island heron rookery to create nesting habitat. Some years the trees are dragged across the ice behind snowmobiles. During mild winters, like the last one, the ice never gets thick enough for safe passage and the trees are taken across by boat in the spring. Volunteers arrived at 9 a.m. and moved the trees donated by a Christmas tree seller or collected by the Village of Barrington from residents. The trees were loaded out of the parking lot and into the launch area.
Then nine CFC volunteers boated to the island to remove last year's Christmas trees from the tubes and threw them in the water around the island. Boatload by boatload volunteers, police and staff unloaded over 150 new trees and placed them upright in tubes, leaned them against structures, or tossed them around the perimeter to create additional ground level nesting sites - great egrets in particular favor nesting on the perimeter trees.
Most of the volunteers had to leave by noon, but four stayed on the island to finish pruning cavities in the trees large enough for a black-crowned night-heron nest and to install the last of the three new prototype nesting structures designed for great blue herons. By 2 p.m. the parking lot was empty of trees, boats and cars and the island looked like a miniature evergreen forest, ready for this season's 300 heron and cormorant families. And the great egrets and double-crested cormorants flying and swimming around the lake during the workday had already returned to the island.