July 2010

I took a drive up to Sugar River FP this evening to see if the loop road was still open during the flooding. It wasn't. Sugar River FP is closed until further notice due to flooding.
A little further downstream, Winters' wetland restoration is really flooded! I bet Dave is glad that he doesn't have crops in that field anymore. The road between Shirland and the bridge at the junction of the Pec and Sugar Rivers is under water and closed from Shirland and IL 75 ends.
Along Meridian Road between IL 75 and the bridge over the Pec River, the fields on both sides appear to be completely flooded (can't see the slightly higher ground to the east because of the corn). The water is up to the top of the fence posts on the east side of the road.
Didn't try to go to Pecatonica. The water in the river is so much higher along Meridian Road that I sincerely doubt that Blair Road is open along much of its length, as is all of Pec Wetlands FP. This flooding demonstrates the value of having this property in wetland restoration instead of corn and soybeans-no crop losses and less topsoil washed away downstream.

I found approximately 150 American White Pelicans in a very large flooded area on Rock City Road immediately north of Ridott (Stephenson). Two flocks were in the air, and I counted 37 in the flooded field on both sides of the road. Also present were several dozen Great Blue Herons, 4 Great Egrets, an immature Bald Eagle, some Wood Ducks, plus hundreds of swallows of 4 species. These pelicans are likely many of the same reported by Anne Straight earlier from Nieman Pond near Freeport and probably the same group of non-breeding birds that has been roaming the Pecatonica River valley all summer.

I also found a family group of 4 mink, one of which (a young one) had just been hit by a car. The adult was still standing next to it when I pulled up. I collected the victim so that the adult wouldn't be tempted to go back out on to the road.

The Pecatonica River is really flooding. Thousands of adjoining acres are underwater all along its course. What was Nieman Pond, at the north end of Springfield Road east of Freeport, is no longer identifiable because it has been subsumed into the flooded river bottom, covering at least 1000 acres. The exit into Freeport via US Business 20 from US 20 is closed in both directions on US 20. I suspect that a part of the road is either under water or a bridge has been compromised by the flooding.

Some gravel roads in eastern Stephenson County have been badly eroded and deep gulleys have formed, making driving them either difficult or treacherous. In some spots, flooded fields are washing across the roads. Other roads are closed. Local farmers who have end loaders are out levelling the roads where possible.

There are extemsive areas of flooding along the Pec River north of Pecatonica on Blair Road and on both sides of Pecatonica Road. The extension of Blair Road into Stephenson County (Maize Road) is closed due to flooding.

All of this might turn into good shorebird habitat by the time the flood waters receded.

This morning, for several hours, I watched several kites in the Bloom School neighborhood. (And at 2:45 this afternoon, there were 3 perched there, one over the school parking lot's bike stand.) Before today, the kite count has been 3 adult males and one adult female, all being seen together a couple of times. Today, I saw a year-old female bird perched, which brings the count to 5 separate individuals. Later I saw another female flying, which differed from the two females I saw perched together. That would be a sixth individual.

Near that neighborhood, a Carolina Wren was singing this morning at 1907 Kings Highway.

But maybe my best sighting was early this afternoon when I was at my home in Shaw Woods. I looked out the window and next to my birdbath I saw a mink carrying a chipmunk it had caught. As it ran off with it, a Cooper's Hawk swooped at it.

one adult YCNH was seen today at Sugar River F. P. by Martin Kehoe. It was moving around the floody ponds near the road.