I had a great time at the Midwest Birding Symposium, and will have some blog posts to share with you about the weekend. But first I’ve still got a couple of short posts to wrap up our birding from the previous weekend at the Illinois Audubon Fall Gathering…
After our afternoon field trip on Saturday, all participants of the gathering headed to a wine and cheese reception at Mettawa Manor, an historic 65-acre estate.
Upon arrival we were offered handouts which described the history of the estate.
The main house and grounds were built in 1927, as a gift to Elizabeth Morse upon her marriage to William Covington. They were part of a larger family compound that included two other homes, various outbuildings and nearly 100 acres of land. Elizabeth and William Covington raised five children in their home, and used it and the gardens, designed by Swain Nelson & Sons Co., to create a wonderful “country life” only 40 minutes from the center of Chicago. They entertained extensively, holding a 60th wedding anniversary party that is still talked about. Upon Elizabeth Convington’s death at the age of 86 in 1990, the house and 9 acres of land were put on the market.
Since then the new owners have worked to restore and freshen the estate as well as reacquire additional acres of land. The manor and grounds were absolutely beautiful – and a joy to explore.
Besides a lovely selection of snacks and wine, we got to enjoy the grounds of this beautiful property. Tram tours were given every 10 minutes but attendance was so high that not everyone was able to tour the grounds this way. Arthur and I elected to walk on the prairie and forest trails that crisscrossed the property. Birds seen included Flicker, Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinches, and Blue Jay.
The gracious owners had invited us to make ourselves at home and so when we came upon a treehouse in the woods, we had to have a look at the elevated view.
Back at the gardens we tried raspberries and blueberries right off the bush, and freshly fallen pears were begging to be tasted. All of the garden delights were free from pesticides and extremely tasty.
We passed through the formal flower garden as we returned to the house.
Our visit to Mettawa Manor was quite a coup for the local host Audubon club and a perfect bridge between the day’s field trips and the evening banquet.