Wednesday at Nygren Wetlands

I spent an hour at Nygren yesterday morning. There were quite a few peeps, but they were very difficult to identify from the observation deck against the bright sun, and very far away on the east side of the marsh on the mudflats. Best viewing was from the east side of the marsh near the observation blind. Highlights were 27 Semipalmated, 2 Baird’s, 3 Pectoral and 5 White-rumped Sandpipers, plus 7 Semipalmated Plovers. There were adult 4 Sandhill Cranes in the water at the edge of the marsh on the east side, but no colts were observed.

I went back this afternoon after the rain mostly abated. There were still a lot of peeps, but they were hard to see from the observation deck because they were on the mud flats close behind the tall grass. I confirmed a White-rumped Sandpiper (Aaron Boone said that he saw 3 in flight) and there were other long-winged peeps there that were probably Baird’s Sandpipers. In addition, there were 2 Dunlin and 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, plus 200 +/- White Pelicans.

A short hike in Starved Rock SP

Today, Barbara and I took my grandson for a short walk into Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons in Starved Rock SP. It was cool, shady, and it reminded us a lot of our recent trip to Bell Smith Springs in the Shawnee National Forest in southern IL. Lots of rocky walls, running streams (reduced because of lack of rainfall) and several bird species we saw in numbers in Bell Smith Springs: Acadian Flycatcher, Carolina Wren, several Louisiana Waterthrushes (calling a lot) and a male Summer Tanager.

Smith’s Longspurs on Edson Road

Yesterday afternoon, Jeff Donaldson and Matt Vincent found 4 or 5 Smith’s Longspurs on the spring count while driving west on Edson Road near a drainage ditch about 2-3 miles west of the intersection of Edson Road and Friday Road. At that point, Edson Road is the border between Ogle and Winnebago County south of Rockford. The ditch runs north-south under the road.

Larry Balch, Barbara and I, and our friends, Beth Goeppinger and Joe Jacyna, went down there this morning and, after searching for more than 1 hour, had 4 Smith’s around 0945. They were flying and giving flight calls (with some not-very-good flight looks) back and forth over Edson road, about 0.1 of a mile west of the ditch. When the birds landed, they were out of sight behind low ridges in the fields. A thunderstorm with lightning deterred us from staying longer. We left around 10:00 a.m. We also saw a male Lapland Longspur in full breeding plumage. 25 American Golden-plovers flew over, too.

Brad Grover called at 3:40 p.m. to report that he and others were unable to relocate the Smith’s Longspurs, but, on the bright side, they had 25 Lapland Longspurs, 3 breeding plumage Golden-plovers in the fields, and a fly-over Upland Sandpiper.

Kites return to Rockford

Dan Williams, I, and perhaps others, have been checking the Bloom School neighborhood daily without seeing any kites through yesterday. However, today Jeff Donaldson spotted a Mississippi Kite soaring east of the school. Between 5 and 5:30 pm, Donna and I found 3 kites. Two were soaring together near Rural St. and Woodlane Ave, which is a few blocks south of the school. A third bird, missing 1 or 2 primaries on the left wing at about the position of P4 or P5, was circling a block west of the school.

They’ve come back just in time for the Spring Count!

Common Nighthawk arrives in Rockford

After dinner tonight with Larry and Donna Balch in downtown Rockford, the four of us exited the restaurant and immediately heard and saw a Common Nighthawk flying over the intersection of E. State and Second Streets, right over and around City Hall. This sighting is only slightly early. In 5 of the previous 13 years, I have recorded a nighthawk on May 8 in Winnebago Co.

More arrivals at Page Park, Rockford, then toward Pecatonica

Barbara and I spent 2 hours in our woods adjacent to the Page Park Conservation Forest this morning between 0830-1030. The trees were full of warblers, many in full song, which was very helpful because the leaves were so thick that it was a lot of work to try to see them! We managed 13 species of warblers in that time, with a likely 14th (Black-throated Blue) which called twice, but never showed itself. We took a pass on counting it. Also present were 2 Blue-headed Vireos, several female Scarlet Tanagers, 3 Baltimore Orioles, some Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and a Great-crested Flycatcher.

Heartened by these arrivals, we decided to check a few shorebird spots, like Oliver Road and Telegraph Road. Not much there–the usuals. However, we had a singing Louisiana Waterthrush on the N-S stretch of Oliver Road east of the road across from the beaver lodge. 3 Hooded Mergansers were in the stream below the beaver dam. Warbling Vireos and Yellow Warblers were deafening.

There is a pair of Purple Martins at the martin house at 4 Lakes (they nested there last year), and 2 Green Herons were also there.

The colony of Cliff Swallows is back under the bridge on Telegraph Road just W of Theodorff Road.

The Telegraph Road flooded oxbow just E of town had both species of yellowlegs (+1 flock of 12 Lessers flying), a Solitary Sandpiper, and both regular species of teal. A Yellow-throated Vireo was calling from the hardwood forest across from the spring on Blair Road just after it separates from Best Road.

River Road near Ridott had a Prothonotary Warbler and American Redstart.

Finally, we had 3 Eastern Kingbirds-1 on Saunders Road just S of Telegraph and 2 at Westlake Nature Area. A Shoveler was also at the nature area, and a Common Loon was on Westlake itself. In all, we totalled 19 species of warblers today.