Skip to navigation Skip to content

Man Has an Eye for Nature

Bob Bates is an outdoorsman who takes his cameras with him everywhere he goes. He grew up in Carol Stream, graduated from Eastern Illinois University and then married his wife, Lilly.

"We have two children and one grandchild and have lived in Warrenville the last 34 years," Bates said. "I’ve worked in the office products industry for 35 years now." 


Bob Bates enjoying the DuPage forest preserves.


Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves

My father was a fishermen and we used to go to Blackwell Forest Preserve before they added the lakes, fishing in his canoe, I also would go swimming in the south lake (Sand Pond) back in high school in the late 70's.


Bob Bates took this photo of a hooded merganser with a crayfish in its mouth at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville. 

What Brings Him Back Time and Time Again

Walking my dogs and taking photos is what brings me back. It’s good exercise for the dogs and for me and my wife. We go to several preserves just to change it up, but most often people will see me with two Labradoodles in tow and a very large camera lens. When I stop to take a photo, they stop and sit and wait for me to start moving again.


Bob Bates' wife, Lilly, with their two Labradoodles, Dakota (left) and Kahli (right). Photo by Bob Bates

Last year I was happy to be able to get pictures of a pileated woodpecker. I was able to find it by the much louder pecking noise it makes. I have also seen great horned owls with prey flying and in the trees. My wife also spotted a barred owl last year. The trick to get the best photos is to move around the subject and look for the best lighting and background.


A pileated woodpecker captured by Bob Bates with his camera.


Catching the Nature Bug

As children me and my two brothers would go camping with our parents up to Wisconsin or down to Tennessee, where my father grew up.


Bob Bates found this pair of hooded mergansers at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

Favorite Things to Do in the Preserves

Prior to the pandemic, the best thing about the preserves was that they gave me a place to relax and think as well as get much-needed almost daily exercise. I would be the only one at several of the preserves, but now they are filled up everyday. Thank God we have them.


A pair of bluebirds Bob Bates photographed in a DuPage forest preserve.


How Nature Inspires

It inspires me to continually look for new creatures I have not gotten photos of before that I love to share with my family and friends.


A pair of wood ducks Bob Bates photographed at a DuPage forest preserve.


Advice to Others

I would say that while on a walk the best thing to do at times is just stop and look around to see what might be watching you. This is typically when I see a deer or a green heron or even an owl or two. Take someone with you and have fun.


Bob Bates with his Labradoodles, Dakota (left) and Kahli (right), at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville.





If you have a fun or unique way of catching nature in our preserves and would like to be featured in a “Catching Nature” blog, please contact Deb Humiston at


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Photo of blog author Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County welcomes more than 6.2 million visitors a year; and manages nearly 26,000 acres in 60 forest preserves containing prairies, woodlands and wetlands.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe To Stories