Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Excellent birding on New Year's Eve

As the sun set on the last day of 2016, I was doing one of the things I like to do best: birding with friends. The friends — Brody Dunn and Greg Lambeth — and I had spent the day participating in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count at Clinton Lake, where Greg and I, with company from various others, have covered the same territory for more than a decade.

Letters from Birdland: The latest Chicken Girl Club meeting

We had a New Year's visit with friends in Birdland. The second meeting of the The Chicken Girl Club (CGC) came to order about 10 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Our club was established in late summer, when my sister, Becky, asked if she could bring out some friends — Brenda, who wanted to get started with chickens, and Charis.

For rural Urbana farmer, solar power is cool

URBANA — After installing solar panels at his Blue Moon organic farm, Jon Cherniss will be relying on the sun not only to grow his vegetables come summer, but cool them, too.

Final cleanup at Champaign's manufactured gas plant site delayed

Ameren crews that are finishing up remediation work at the former site of Champaign's manufactured gas plant at Fifth and Hill streets said they've found more coal tar than expected.  So the work originally scheduled for November is now set to begin later this month.

Letters from Birdland: Endings and new beginnings

In Birdland, we search for beginnings folded into the endings.

One of the African violets that Michael tends has sent up a tiny bouquet of buds, one of which has opened: tiny, purple petals encasing bright yellow anthers, like beads in a velvet box.

It's not just about the downhills

CHAMPAIGN — Five or so years ago, the Champaign Ski Club tweaked its name to more accurately describe what it does.

It's now known as the Champaign Ski & Adventure Club.

As publicity chairman Larry Eyre said, the club members do a lot more than ski.

Letters from Birdland: That's a wrap: Chickens ready to brave the cold

Birdland is under an Arctic chill. The cobblestone path leading to our kitchen door is glazed with ice. Beware all ye who come visiting. Walk carefully on the path. The trees and bushes, now bare of leaves, are glazed too. The sky is a dome of gray, and the afternoon is dusky. If only the sun would break through, we would see the diamonds in the trees.

Tom's #Mailbag, Dec. 23, 2016

Question for Tom? Ask it here

A little bit of local history and a lot more about restaurants in this week’s holiday edition of the mailbag.

Letter from Birdland: Dog gives us a scare with all-night romp

At our house, we sing a song. It goes like this: "She's a good dog/Sometimes/But sometimes she isn't/She's a good dog/Sometimes/But sometimes she's bad."

Rain, ice making streets, sidewalks slick

Rain on top of ice made for perfect conditions for car accidents and falls Saturday.

University of Illinois students celebrating the end of the semester tread carefully as they posed for parting photos in temperatures right at the freezing point.