On Memorial Day (late May) 2012, I flew to Chicago for the day to look for Franklin’s Ground Squirrels at a site where John Fox had found them.
The junction John described should in fact be called Shilo (not Philo) Road and E. Old Church. Otherwise it is just how he described the site. I looked along the drive to the right (west) of the houses and cruised around the edge of the Barnhart Prarie area a few times but had no luck. I put most effort into the first stretch of the drive where John has seen the animals.
In the early afternoon I drove an hour or so to Hoopeston Illinois, to visit two other sites detailed in this research report: the two sites were a few miles east of Hoopeston, along the railway line where it intersects with County Roads 2100E and 2250E (which run north off of Rt 9, the main road going east out of town). It seems the squirrels are still there: a landowner pulled over for a chat and said that the University of Illinois come most year to trap the squirrels. But though I walked up and down the railway track for a couple of hours I couldn’t find one. Perhaps that was because the weather was hot and blowing a force five. Or perhaps it was because the habitat was thick vegetation. Hardly a surprise because this is the habitat Franklin’s Ground Squirrels prefer, which can make them relatively hard to see. I flushed a White-tailed Deer along the railway line and just west of Hoopeston I saw a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel.
I got back to the Barnhart Prairie site at about 5 p.m, and drove the driveway again. I saw a Franklin’s Ground Squirrel jump into the undergrowth nearly at the end of the drive (at the final bend before it reaches a cluster of houses). Twenty minutes later I saw an animal again in the same area.
I finished with a great view of one at very close quarters in the garden of the first house at the end of the drive. It was too close to photograph. There was an Eastern Cottontail here too.
Franklin’s Ground Squirrel, 2011: John Fox found Franklin’s Ground Squirrels near Urbana, 3 hours south of Chicago.