Sunday Hawk Watch report

18 persons attended the NCIOS hawk watch field trip at Olson Lake in Rock Cut SP on Sunday, September 26. It was lead by Vic Berardi, the founder of the Illinois Beach SP hawk watch. Here is Vic’s report from IBET.

“This morning I spent 4 wonderful hours hawk watching with a terrific group of birders from the North Central Illinois Ornithological Society (Rockford Bird Club) We made our observations from the Olson Lake parking lot, which is part of Rock Cut State Park. The view from this parking lot is incredible with an expansive vista to the north, west and east. Although weather conditions were not ideal for general raptor movement (3rd day after a cold front) we did manage to tally 61 hawks from 8:30AM to 12:30PM. Most of the hawks were quite distant and required a scope for ID verification of age/sex but a few came in fairly close. I think this spot could be an excellent location for an inland hawk watch in Illinois.

Here’s what we saw:

Osprey – 2
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 6
Copper’s Hawk – 7
Broad-winged Hawk – 7
Red-tailed Hawk – 35
Peregrine Falcon – 2
TOTAL – 61

I’m hoping to return to this spot this fall under better weather conditions for migrating raptors. I’d love to see its potential!

Thanks to NCIOS for a great time today!”

Thank you to Vic for a very enjoyable morning. Anyone can go to this site, which is at the highest point of the parking lot S of the beach at Olson Lake, and just sit and watch the skies for raptors. Because of the distances, scanning with binoculars and a scope is necesarry–it is hard to pick out the tiny specks of birds at those distances with the unaided eye.

Request for Mississippi Kite information

On Thursday, September 16, Dan Williams saw an adult and a juvenile. At a different time, I saw the juvenile flying very strongly. We were both out of town for a couple of days after that, and wonder if anyone else has seen any of the kites since last Thursday. If so, please comment on this post, giving date and details. We want to determine the departure date of the last kite. Thanks.

Eastern Stephenson County

Barbara and I drove over to Nieman Pond, on the east side of Freeport, and then to Ridott this morning. Nieman Pond held a hen Pintail and Ring-necked Duck, plus an adult Bald Eagle and several Double-crested Cormorants, but no shorebirds other than Killdeer.

Ridott was much better. On Rock City Road, just N of Ridott, we saw 2 Am. Golden-plovers, 6 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 7 Pectoral Sandpipers, 12 Leasts, 2 Stilt Sandpipers, 6 Wilson’s Snipe, 19 Broad-winged Hawks (moving generally SW), 15 Great Egrets, 3 more Bald Eagles (2 adults, 1 juv,), and a Merlin. An Eastern Kingbird was still along River Road just E of Rock City Rd.

Happy “Talk like a Pirate” Day!

Moody Road Merlin

Sunday morning Tim and I were looking for shorebirds on Moody Road (barely any water and only a lone Great Blue Heron). But, at the end of the road heading east we spotted a falcon harassing crows. We pursued the bird and I got this photograph of what we determined to be a Merlin. (Prairie subspecies??) [Side note: look at the bloodied feathers near the feet!]


We also checked Sugar River and found a small flock of Ovenbirds (6+) all chattering away plus a Blue-winged Warbler. We checked Oliver Road and found one American Golden Plover amongst Killdeer and Canada Geese.

Kite explosion in Rockford

After birding yesterday with Dan & Barb (see previous post), Donna and I went by the intersection where juvenile kite #2 (Kid 2) was seen last Wednesday and again Friday (see 1 Sep post). We found a third juvenile kite perched on a branch 40-45 feet up in a pin oak on the northeast corner of Lundvall and Parkwood. We were able to show it to out-of-town photographers and to many residents of the neighborhood who came by to see what was going on. The kite remained on that branch until around 9:30 this morning, when it moved to a lower branch about 25-30 feet up in the same tree. We have no reports of this bird being able to fly yet.

After checking on this new “Kid 3” this morning, Donna and I happened to discover a fourth juvenile kite sitting a two or three feet above its nest not far off Highcrest. That nest is less than 600 feet from the nest we reported here on 13 August. Although we did not see it move, Dan and Barbara Williams saw it fly about 15 feet, without leaving its nest tree. It appears to be about the same age as Kid 3.

A summary of sighting histories of these four young kites has been posted on IBET with the same title as this post.

Click on the photo below to see it in full.

Juvenile Mississippi Kite
Kid 4 today

Stephenson County shorebirds

On Saturday and today, Barbara and I checked old flooded areas in eastern Stephenson County looking for shorebirds. Larry and Donna Balch joined us this morning.

Yesterday’s highlight was a pair of Buff-breasted Sandpipers that flew in while we were checking ducks in the flooded fields along Rock City Road immediately north of the town of Ridott. 2 Baird’s Sandpipers were the next most notable find in a relative dearth of shorebirds. 61 Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Greaters and 30 Least Sandpipers were in a flooded oxbow along River Road about 1 mile west of Farwell Bridge Road.

Today, the group had 9 Baird’s Sandpipers at Nieman Pond at the north end of Springfield Road on the east side of Freeport among a few species of shorebirds. Also there were 3 Bald Eagles and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks.

In a flooded soybean field on Ridott/Cherry Hill Road (where they come together), we had a nice mix of birds, including 3 juvenile Stilt Sandpipers and, in a puddle that is drying out quickly on Cherry Hill Road, 89 Great Egrets along with the omnipresent Great Blue Herons and Killdeer.

Mississippi Kites update

Dan and Barbara Williams and I assaulted the intersection of Parkwood and Lundvall (just south of Bloom School) this morning, radios in hand, to cast a dragnet for nesting activity. Previous observations, especially last night, gave reason to believe a nest might be near here. After more than two hours of work, success! A juvenile was discovered that is capable of flying short distances. There is some reason to believe it may have a sibling, but there is as yet no confirmation of that.

Since our suspicion about nesting here was correct, I’ll go out on a limb (no pun intended) and say that we suspect there is yet another nest somewhere south of Guilford.

Very surprising is a report from two knowledgeable observers who live south of Guilford on Parkwood. Monday evening, in advance of a weather front, they watched a flock of 9 kites circling together over their house.

I have updated the map here to reflect these observations. Note that you can zoom in and out, and read details either on the key at left, or by clicking on the markers.