In the past half hour we have had two flocks of Sandhill Cranes over our house. Each flock had about 60 birds. The second flock contained two Whooping Cranes. We are next to Anna Page Park on the west side of Rockford. The birds were all headed straight south and were quite low.
Barbara and Daniel Williams
A single Ross’s Goose flew in with a flock of Cackling Goose at Victoria Lake this afternoon.
Anne Straight has periodically seen a Eurasian Tree Sparrow in her yard. The bird tends to come to food on the ground in the back yard under some spruce and other conifers. Anne emailed us that she had seen it this morning at 0830 or so. I saw her message at 1130 and got to her house by 1220. Saw the bird by 1225 and headed home!
I got a message from Tom Hartley, Director of Land & Development for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. He is seeking community input especially from NCIOS and other birders about the impact this may have on bird habitat.
The links below are of the areas being proposed in three forest preserves [each is a PDF sized around 600KB]:
Please direct all opinions on this matter to:
And please share this info with anyone you think knows these areas in the birds found there.
15 people showed up this morning to check some of the county waterfowl spots. We started at Rock Cut State Park’s Olson annex with Killdeer and Ring-necked Ducks being the most noteworthy birds. Next, we went to Windsor Lake where Phil Donchek found the best bird of the day; a Northern Shrike. It was behind the office buildings in a weedy field on the NW side of the lake. Nygren Wetlands was next with Harrier, Snipe, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, Green-winged Teal and Shoveler as highlights. Jim Meyers was lucky enough to watch three River Otters swim past the Nygren overlook shelter. We all watched a Turkey Vulture circle over the road on the way to Lake Summerset, where we found Horned Grebes, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and a hen Canvasback. At the final stop at Howard’s farm on Rte. 70 we didn’t turn up anything unusual except a single Snow Goose.
We tallied 49 species for the day, the weather was terrific and we had a lovely time.
Don’t worry about a sign at Meridian Rd. and Montague Rd. claiming that the road is closed. The road is open to Severson Dells.
When we scheduled this field trip we did not know that the Rock Cut State Park deer hunt was this weekend. The main body of the park will be closed to all but the people participating in the hunt.
Instead of meeting at the Lion’s Club parking area we will meet at the big parking lot that overlooks Olson Lake on the east side of Rte. 90 where we held the hawk watches. We will meet at 8:00 a.m., look at Olson Lake and then probably go to Windsor Lake, Nygren Wetlands, Lake Summerset and Howard’s farm. I expect we will be finished around noon.
Larry Balch and I birded Winnebago County this morning beginning in the area of the Rockford airport. There were 2 Rough-legged Hawks hunting over the fields south of the airport, a single White-fronted Goose was mixed in wiht a flock of Canada and Cackling Geese (around 50 Cackling), and 2 flocks of Snow Buntings were seen flying around the gravel piles in the quarry on the south side of Belt Line Road and over the fields to the SE of the airport. The second flock appeared to include a few Lapland Longspurs. No gulls worth mentioning. ~300 Mourning Doves were on the wires and feeding in the field on the east side of Cessna Drive north of Belt Line Road. No Collared-doves were with them.
Pierce Lake at Rock Cut SP held 3 Common Loons, 8 Horned Grebes and 7 Pied-billed Grebes, but the lack of waterfowl there was surprising. Again, no gulls worth mentioning. A theme is developing here. Just north of the intersection where the east end of Hart Road is gated off of the main park loop road, we had a nice assortment of birds feeding on berries–lots of Cedar Waxwings and over 20 E. Bluebirds, a Sapsucker, 5-6 Purple Finches feeding on Ash keys, etc.
En route to Rockton, we had an adult Bald Eagle soaring over the Rock River bridge on Bridge Street in Roscoe. Nygren Wetland, west of Rockton, was pretty slow with only 4 Sandhill Cranes, some GW Teal and 2 N. Shovelers, but little else except soaring Red-tails. The immature Golden Eagle reported yesterday by Martin Kehoe from 1 mile SW of the observation deck was not seen by us today. Several small groups of Sandhill Cranes were in various ag fields along our route. Another Bald Eagle, this one immature (3rd year) was seen along Yale Bridge Road near the Pecatonica River bridge crossing.
Lake Summerset was devoid of waterbirds except for a pair of Mallards and 1 Herring Gull. Yeeks. The high wind made viewing tough, but an empty lake was quite surprising.
Our last stop was Howard’s farm. The wind was fierce,but by hiding our scopes behind the car, we found at least 3 Snow Geese (1 was a blue morph). There could have been more, but the geese were sleeping and many were behind an embankment from our viewing spot.
Yesterday afternoon I observed an immature Golden Eagle in Northern Winnebago County one mile SW of the observation deck at Nygren’s. I did not see it from the deck, it is just a reference point. I was in a deer stand and saw the eagle overhead two times. The sightings were about one hour apart so it was not just passing through. If you are out near Nygrens’s looking for white cranes amongst the Sandhills be sure to carefully check out the distant eagles.
Here is an early reminder to please check you calendars for upcoming Rockford area CBCs. Please plan to participate in as many of the CBCs as you can. Every one of them needs the help. They are listed by date of occurrence.
Friday, December 16, 2011 Green Island/Lost Mound (IA/IL) Includes the Lost Mound unit of the Upper Mississippi NWR on the IL side.
Saturday, December 17, 2011 Rockford CBC.
Sunday, December 18, 2011 White Pines CBC (maybe the name is now changed to Nachusa CBC). Eastern Ogle Co. including White Pines, Lowden,
Nachusa Grasslands, Lowden-Miller SF.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 Rock Cut CBC (and into Boone Co. along the Kishwaukee River)
Saturday, December 31, 2011 Kiswhaukee CBC (includes northern Ogle Co. along the Rock River and part of the Kishwaukee River valley)
If you are more adventurous, and have time to travel, the northern MN CBCs compiled by Martin Kehoe always need help, and the birds are really cool! Contact Martin if you are willing to drive 200 miles NW of Duluth and count in remote forest as well as around town. You might see Great Gray and Hawk Owls!