Barbara and I took a drive over to Ridott and checked the fields that were extensively flooded in July. There are lot of exposed mudflats along Rock City Road north of Ridott and on River Road to the northeast of Ridott. A telescope is a must. There weren’t many shorebirds there at noon on Sunday, but this spot bears watching. The waters are receding and more mud will be exposed. Avoiding mid-day heat haze is a must.
Along Rock City Road at noon were the expected Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, DC Cormorants and Blue-winged Teal, plus an abundance of Killdeer.
Weekend birders traveling to Rockford to see kites might like to know that they were very conspicuous around 11:00 today. Donna and I saw them as soon as we got to Stratford and Buckingham. Between there and west of James on Burrmont, we saw at least four, and probably five, adult kites. At James and Pelham, we had two adult males together only 50 feet over our heads. We saw kites north of Highcrest, but not at the school or south of there. They were putting on quite a show in this beautiful, breezy weather, flying at less than 200 feet altitude most of the time. There was hardly a period for 15 minutes that one was not in sight as we cruised around looking for (and not finding) a young bird.
Around 1:30, we detoured from errands to run by Oliver Road. Along the oxbows there, we found 26 Great Egrets and perhaps 100 shorebirds. In order of abundance, they were Killdeers and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectorals, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Snipes, Spotted Sandpiper, and Wilson’s Phalarope. Certainly worth checking again tomorrow morning—heat haze won’t be a problem, and something really good could drop in at any time.
Donut lovers: Edwards Orchard store on Cemetery Road opened today.
Barbara and I spent the morning in the area of the lower picnic shelter at Severson Dells, plus near the pond and dells. While we were there, we were pleased to discover some migrants. Barbara had a small flock of warblers that included a Blue-winged, a Chestnut-sided, and an American Redstart. We both heard a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and I found 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers, together with 4 Great Crested Flycatcher and what I suspect to be a Willow Flycatcher at the pond.
An American Goldfinch was building a nest in an oak by the parking lot, and there were a lot of Eastern Kingbirds around. A Pileated Woodpecker was in the dells area.
The Buckingham Drive juvenile’s primaries have now grown to expected length, beyond the end of its tail. Not surprisingly, it can now fly short distances. Late this afternoon, I watched it fly about 50 feet, from one tree to another. This is apparently the first day it has been capable of flight. According to the current literature, this would put its age at 30 to 35 days. (Literature I am citing is the comprehensive report by Jim Parker for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of North America Online.)
This bird is about a week ahead of the schedule we observed for juveniles in 2008 and 2009. It should be a reluctant flier for the next 15 to 20 days, frequenting the nest area. It will not attempt to catch insects with adults until age 50+ days, so the adults will continue to feed it. Parental feeding will become infrequent after 60 days. On such a timetable, we could expect to see kites in Rockford until at least September 16-21. This is about as long as they stayed the last two years.
As yet, there is no positive indication that the adult kites in other areas around Bloom School have raised young. We have been closely monitoring their activities, and none of them appear to be making repeated feeding trips to a nest site. Certainly, none of them have a young bird following them around begging for food, as would be the case had juveniles left the nest.
If you do happen to see a young bird associating with adults, please report the time and place and particulars so that we can gain knowledge of how this possible range extension is proceeding. Observe carefully, however—young Cooper’s Hawks are about the same size, and are also brown and streaked. They have been seen circling over Bloom School with adult kites several times recently. You can report by commenting on this report, or by using the numbers at Rockford-MIKIs.
Around 10:00 a.m. this morning, I found an Upland Sandpiper on Birch Road at the sod farm just W of IL 23. The bird was in the mowed area on the west end, near where they are cutting sod. No Buffies there, however.
Today at noon, I found 2 juvenile Wilson’s Phalaropes in the puddle on the west side of Meridian Road between IL 75 and the Pecatonica River bridge. There were also several L. Yellowlegs, a Greater Yellowlegs, a Solitary Sandpiper and a Semipalmated Sandpiper.
As you can see from checking my report on Friday night, then yesterday, there is some turn over going on at that puddle. It bears regular checking.
Larry Balch, Barbara and I took a drive up to Sugar River FP this morning. We found 1 adult and 1 juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-heron in the swamp in the center of the loop road. As far as we know, this is the first sighting of a juvenile YCNH this year. The other reports have been an adult.
On the way to Sugar River, we stopped at the puddle on Meridian Road where I saw the shorebirds yesterday. There were a fair number of birds, but of much different species composition–mostly Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers, with some Pectoral Sandpipers and a few peeps, including 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper. The others looked like Least, but we didnt’ get a scope on them. There were also 2 Snipe.
Moody/Blodgett intersection puddle had a lot of Great Egrets, Great Blue and Green Herons, plus an uncounted number of Wood Ducks, which just seemed to keep flying out of the corn in small groups. 2 Osprey were at Nygren, viewed from the observation deck.
At 5:45 p.m. this afternoon, I checked the flooded field on the west side of Meridian Rd. between IL 75 and the Pec River bridge. There were about 80 shorebirds in the puddle, many hidden by dead vegetation. My attention was first drawn to a group of really pale ones near the back–7 Wilson’s Phalaropes! Then, among the Least Sandpipers I found a single White-rumped. There were 2 Stilt Sandpipers, at least 1 of which was a nice clean and colorful juvenile. There were the usual suspects too-Solitary Sandpiper, both yellowlegs, Killdeer, about a dozen Pectorals. While I was checking them out, something frightened them and, in small groups, they flew around, some returning to the puddle and others leaving to the west. Unfortunately, the phalaropes went west and didn’t return during the time that I was there.
This pond bears watching, but the birds are close to the road, so it is a good idea to stay in your car or behind it, using the car as a blind.
Spent about 30 minutes at Rock Cut SP during yesterday’s lunch hour. Migration is happening there. There were 2 Osprey over Pierce Lake. An immature Broad-winged Hawk was soaring and calling over the woods north of the dam.
2 families of Eastern Kingbirds were very active and vocal around the dam parking lot, with adults still being harassed for food by the young birds. Some young male/female Am. Redstarts were at the edge of the woods along the bike trail,
A Ring-billed Gull was on the rocky island just E of the dam, and at least 4 Great Blue Herons were in view along the lake edge. 4 species of swallows were over the lake near the dam.
The young kite seen in the nest last Friday was found on the ground yesterday morning by Chicago birders. It may have fallen out as long ago as Saturday. It cannot fly yet. In fact, it has a hard time perching on thinner branches, and occasionally tips over and ends hanging upside down, wings akimbo.
Late yesterday afternoon, it somehow crossed a lawn, a street, and another lawn, and climbed into a tall dense bush. Today it has worked its way up to the top of the bush, and from there to a small tree. It appears to be healthy and strong, and having survived this long on or near the ground, we trust it will soon be flying and hunting on its own.
This morning between 6:20 and 6:45, I counted 5 kites perched in the Bloom School neighborhood. The subadult perched for 2½ hours in the big tree near Buckingham and Pleasant View. Other raptors seen nearby in the last 4 days are Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Turkey Vulture, and today around noon, a Sharp-shinned Hawk soaring with three Mississippi Kites.
The Carolina Wren is singing regularly around the intersections of Buckingham with Roncevalles and Scottswood.
Click on the pictures below to see them full size.