March 2009

On Sunday, I saw a flock of over 1000 birds, mostly Lapland Longspurs with 30-40 Snow Buntings mixed in, along Moody Road about 1/4 mile east of Dennis Stein's house and barn on the north side of Moody Road. This is just west of the big flooded area near the barn on the south side of the road. The birds were mostly on the north side of the road in the disked bean stubble and foxtail. I watched them for over an hour. I was trying to find a Smith's or Chestnut-collared Longspur in the mix, but was unsuccessful. Also present were a number of Wilson's Snipe (9). 2 pairs of Sandhill Cranes were heard north and east of the longspur spot.

In a drive around a circle in the northwest part of the county, starting at Nygren and working to Pecatonica, I counted 13 American Kestrels, some sitting in pairs on the wires. Lesser Yellowlegs were in the flooded field along Meridian Road north of IL 75. I had a total of 73 species in 4 hours.

I received this message via email:

Snowy Owl near airport runway around 5:00 PM on March 21st
This owl was sitting on a log just off the ground watching our plane taxi by as we were landing.

I haven't been able to check and that was a week ago Saturday.

nothing left of the shorebirds this morning except lots of snipe, but lots of Rusty Blackbirds out there in the Pec Wetlands

Lots of shorebirds out west of Blair Road, Pecatonica Wetlands. It was getting dark and I did not have good binoculars so I couldn't id. Severlal flocks in fields off of Maize Road.
Go Pec Road north of Pecatonica, left on Best, left on Blair, left on Goeke which turns into Maize and is gravel. they were in fields before Farwell Bridge road.

Also lots of wood ducks and some grebes and coots.

Don Miller and Kevin Kaltenbach reported a small flock of Am. White Pelicans at Nygren Wetlands during the early afternoon. I arrived a little after 3:00 p.m. but could not relocate them. I did find 4 Greater and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs at the very eastern end of Moody Road, and 16 Wilson's Snipe about 1/2 mile west of the Moody/Blodgett intersection. There are a lot of puddle ducks in the Pec River flooded areas. Many ducks can be viewed from the overlook on the south side of Rockton Road at Nygren. 3 immature Bald Eagles were soaring around Nygren, and 3 more were in the vicinity of Trask Bridge FP.

Saturday March 21st field trip results

We had about 15 participants in the 3-21-2009 field trip to Rock Cut State Park. We started out with great success finding several duck species and a pair of Horned Grebes.

Horned Grebes
Digiscoped at a very long distance

After scanning the lake we headed towards the dam and hiked the bike trail. Birding was a bit slow but we did end up with a fair number of species.

I'm sure I am forgetting some but here is the list I have:

White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Phoebe
Canada Goose
Northern Cardinal
Turkey Vulture
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Coot
American Crow
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
Horned Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-winged Blackbird
Song Sparrow
Eastern Bluebird
Great Blue Heron
Common Merganser
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
White-throated Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Cooper's Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-bellied Woodpecker

34 species

Barbara and I found 2 Common Loons in breeding plumage on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut SP this morning. They were visible from the Red Oak picnic area, one was east, the other west along the north shore of the lake. 6 Horned Grebes were on th elake, 5 closer to the Lions Club fishing pier and another along the north shore of the lake. They were all mostly in basic plumage.

Also on Pierce Lake was Red-breasted Merganser and some Ruddy Ducks. There were a lot of fishermen, so the birds might be flushed off of the lake quickly.

A lot of Poine Siskins and 6 Red-breasted Nuthatches (including 2 obvious pairs) were in the White Pines along the main loop road just east of the entrance drive to Red Oak.

Olson Lake had N. Shovelers, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Lesser and Greater (2) Scaup, and a Common Goldeneye.

A nice adult Peregrine was chasing Rock Pigeons over the west end of the Whitman Street Bridge at about 9:00 a.m.

This is from Fred Stellema:

On Sunday morning, 3/15, I heard a bird bang into the living room window and looked up in time to see it fall. It was a pine siskin and it had almost knocked itself out . I went outside to pick it up, and placed it in a canary cage. The little bird was dazed and did not move much, allowing me the chance to study it, and I discovered it was a rare green morph. I made food and water available and covered the cage to settle the bird down and we went to church. When we came back, we took the time to photograph it and turned it loose.

The Green Morph Pine Siskin shows a large amount of yellow on the greater coverts in the wing, it has yellow in the breast area and is greener on the back than the regular pine siskin. Diagnostic are the yellow undertail coverts, which are white in the Pine Siskin and the Eurasian Siskin. Only one percent of pine siskins are green morphs, so it was a rarity that we got to see it and photograph it.

All photos courtesy of Hilda Stellema and text courtesy of Fred Stellema.

Following two reports of 4 Trumpeter Swans along US 20 just east of Freeport (after you cross the Pec River bridge but before the motel), I drove to Freeport this morning to look for them. Unfortunately, the field was completely frozen and there were no swans in sight. The fields are really flooded, though, so waterfowl should be all over the place as soon as it thaws.

I then headed to Krape Park in Freeport where Al Stokie and Andy Sigler found 5 WW Crossbills yesterday. I relocated the crossbills feeding in a Tamarack by the maintenance garage, just E of the bandshell. There are a lot of Pine Siskins there, too.

From Freeport, I headed to Lee County. Found a Pileated Woodpecker at Lowell Park in Dixon, then went to Green River Wildlife Area just west of IL 26. The still water was mostly frozen there, too, but there was some open water and those places had a heavy concentration of ducks. On the west side, along Atkinson Road just N of Mayfield Road, there were 150 Ring-necked Ducks, 75 Pintails, approx. 40 Am. Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 68 GW Teal, 3 Ruddy Ducks, 2 Redheads, 12 Shovelers, 4 Wood Ducks and 8 Coot. Sandhilll Cranes were calling in the distance.

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