Beaver construction at Westlake

Larry Balch and I went out to Westlake Nature area this morning to see if we could find any Nelson’s Sharp-tailed or LeConte’s Sparrows. Upon arrival, we discovered that we were unable to cross the limestone dam in the center of the ponds because beavers have adopted it and improved it. The stones are now buried under mud and sticks of the beaver dam, and the water level upstream is quite a bit higher by at least a foot than previously. It wasn’t possible to cross the dam with the new dam there. The dam, if not disturbed, is going to keep the water level higher and probably make quite a change in vegetation and birdlife around the upstream ponds.

We walked to the back pond via Smith Road. Flushed an American Bittern and several Soras. Warblers weren’t much, but we had 4 Cape Mays. Also around was a Marsh Wren and several Sedge Wrens.

Rock Cut State Park Birding

We hiked at Rock Cut State Park this morning. We got there around seven. I went with my Uncle Eddie, my Grandpa and two birders Jan and Marjorie. The five of us saw quite a few warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos(!).

It was kind of chilly but got warmer near the end of the hike and it was sunny. I had a great time. I posted on my blog too about the trip.

Bird List

  1. Blackburnian Warbler
  2. Black-and-white Warbler
  3. American Redstart
  4. Black-throated Green Warbler
  5. Tennessee Warbler
  6. Nashville Warbler
  7. Common Yellowthroat
  8. Magnolia Warbler
  9. Blue-headed Vireo
  10. Red-eyed Vireo
  11. Dark-eyed Junco
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. White-throated Sparrow
  14. Field Sparrow
  15. Song Sparrow
  16. Chipping Sparrow
  17. American Goldfinch
  18. American Robin
  19. Swainson’s Thrush
  20. Eastern Bluebird
  21. Turkey Vulture
  22. Great Blue Heron
  23. Mallard
  24. Canada Goose
  25. Double-crested Cormorant
  26. Belted Kingfisher
  27. Pied-billed Grebe
  28. Eastern Phoebe
  29. Eastern Towhee
  30. Ring-necked Pheasant
  31. Black-capped Chickadee
  32. House Wren
  33. European Starling
  34. Mourning Dove
  35. Downy Woodpecker
  36. Red-bellied Woodpecker</liL
  37. American Crow
  38. Blue Jay
  39. Common Grackle
  40. Cedar Waxwing

Rock Cut Field Trip This Saturday

To make up for the missed field trip to Illinois Beach, I am having an impromptu field trip to Rock Cut State Park on Saturday, Sept 27th. If you wish to attend, show up at the small parking lot near the north entrance (highway 173 stop light) – it is the first parking lot you come to by some coniferous trees. Please meet at 7:00 AM and we will hike for as long as we like.

The north area of the park has a lot of interesting habitat and is definitely under-birded.

If you have any questions, email me – birdfreak@birdfreak.com.

– Eddie

Sunday with Kites @ Bloom

Barbara and I drove over to Bloom School around 9:15 on Sunday morning. John Longhenry and Mary Kay Rubey were there with their cameras already set up. Vic and Ann Berardi, from the IL Beach SP hawkwatch, were there, too.

The juvenile kite was perched in the dead branches at the top of a Siberian Elm, where he sat for almost the entire hour that we were there. After nearly 25 minutes, the adult male Kite came in with food about 3-4 times to feed it. Mary Kay reported that 3 kites were seen by her husband on Saturday morning, so the female must have still been around, although we did not see her in the hour that we were there today.

About 9:30, a lot of raptor activity started. Migrating Broad-winged Hawks started to fly up from the north, so they must have been leaving their overnight migration roosts. I counted 24, but there could have been a few more or less. Also seen was an Osprey and a Peregrine Falcon. The Osprey circled in a kettle of Broad-wings, but the falcon zoomed through at high speed, flapping all the way. One of the neighborhood Cooper’s Hawks made a brief appearance around 10:15.

Given all of the migrating raptors seen from this site, it seems to be a good hawk watch location.

Kites still present

Wednesday at about two o’clock the kitelet was still present in the top of a tree in the schoolyard. It was fed a cicada and a praying mantis by one of the adults while I watched. I stopped in the school and talked to the front office staff. I offered to prepare a display panel on the kites with some photos, a range map and a couple of paragraphs about MKs in general and these MKs in particular. The staff thought that was a great idea. I’m going to put it together and it will go in the library which all students visit once a week. Never let a “teachable moment” slip by!

Black Terns

Barbara and I checked the airport quarry pond along Belt Line Road south of the Rockford airport, where we found a pair of Black Terns flying over the pond on the airport side of the road. They then crossed the road and flew over to the larger pond in the locked quarry. Also present were a pair of Caspian Terns, an Osprey, hundreds of swallows of several species, a few shorebirds (Greater Yellowlegs and Semipalmated Sandpipers), Great Egrets, and the other usual species. We noted that the large dead tree that was a favorite perch for Bald Eagles is no longer there, so it must have fallen down.

Mississippi Kite update

Barbara and I drove over to Bloom School during a lull in the rain this morning (9/13)around 11:30 a.m. The juvenile kite was flying around the school in a fairly wide pattern, then perched in a honey locust tree in front of the school on Brendenwood. Not long afterward, the female adult showed up and perched nearby on top of a spruce. Shortly, the adult male flew in with a cicada in his beak and fed the juvenile. He returned with another cicada before we left just before noon.