American Golden-plover @ Nygren; Bell’s Vireo @ Westlake

I birded Nygren Wetlands for 1.5 hours this morning from 1030-1200. Highlight there was an adult male breeding plumage Am. Golden-plover on the mud flat on the east side of the big marsh. It is likely that this is the same bird that Barbara and I discovered back on June 16 and seen by Mary Kay Rubey on June 17, but there have been no posts of observations since that time. I did not see it from the observation deck. I found it after I walked the trail around to the east side of the big marsh and stood by the small observation kiosk.

Other interesting birds/numbers were 7 Orchard Orioles, including 3 adult males, 2 1st year males, and 2 females. The male Northern Shoveler persists, and there were 71 Killdeer, 2 alt. plumage adult Lesser Yellowlegs (my 1st fall migrants of that species) and a breeding plumage Spotted Sandpiper.

The water level in the big marsh continues to drop. There are hundreds of dead fish floating in the water (parboiled carp, anyone?) so the turtles are having a feast.

A Bell’s Vireo was heard and seen in a thicket of scrub second growth along Westlake Village Road about 1/4 mile S of Smith Road. This is opposite what used to be called the Westlake Nature Area.

Bloom School Kites

I spent a very interesting hour at Bloom School this morning from 0930-1030.

As I arrived, a male MIKI was soaring around in very wide circles, apparently hunting. After a few minutes, he disappeared to the NW. I checked the nest but did not see a bird on it.

Shortly, a Cooper’s Hawk flew over the school. No reaction from any kites. The Cooper’s then proceeded to make a display flight around the park area and baseball diamonds. Still no reaction from any kite. By this time, I had taken a seat on the bench in the shade by the school. The Cooper’s flew over the school toward the SE and, as soon as I lost sight of it behind the trees, a Broad-wing whistled and both the Cooper’s and Broad-winged came into view with the B-w chasing the Coop. This continued toward the bike rack tree and over the next block west.

When the birds reappeared, a second Cooper’s was with the first. Based on size, M & F. The B-w was still with them, but then both Cooper’s flew off to the SE and out of view. The B-w then started soaring to the N. Suddenly, two MIKIs came into view from the N and started harassing the B-w. The first MIKI I got into my binoculars was a subadult-banded tail, but white head (I think it is a male) and still some barring and mottling on the underwing. It was also missing outer secondaries or inner primaries-I’m not sure. The other MIKI was a male. While I was looking, a 4th raptor showed up–another subadult MIKI !! This one wasn’t missing any wing feathers that I could see. The B-w moved off to the N and the 3 kites circled around for a little while and moved off to the NE and out of view. The subadult with the missing feathers stuck closer to the adult male than the other subadult.

That show ended about 10:10. I waited for 20 more minutes but no other raptors appeared. I cruised the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the area to the NE around Marsh School and Eisenhower Middle School but saw no kites.

Field trip leaders needed for the 2012-2013 season

The officers and board members of NCIOS will be meeting to begin planning next season’s meetings, programs and field trips. Our season basically runs from September to the following June. Generally, the NCIOS does not have any activities through the summer.

We are  looking for interesting bird-related programs that can be a part of our monthly Thursday evening meetings. We also are looking for field trip leaders to organize day trips, or half-day trips, to seek birds.

If you’d like to volunteer or if you have ideas or recommendations please let us know (soon)!
Contact Lynda Johnson (, Phil Doncheck ( or Barbara Williams (


American Golden-plover @ Nygren Wetlands

Barbara and I took a hike along the trail that runs along the east side of the big marsh this afternoon. Once we reached the east side, where there is a bench in a shady spot under some trees, we spotted a breeding plumage American Golden-plover on the mud flats with a bunch of Killdeer and a Spotted Sandpiper. The plover was not visible from the observation deck because the tall grass concealed it from view from that angle.

Also present along the trail from the observation deck to the east side (beyond the small observation kiosk) were: 1 adult Red-headed Woodpecker in the savanna restoration area, 4 Orchard Orioles, including 1 pair together, a single adult male (on a song perch) and an immature male on a song perch and acting very territorial, approximately 165 American White Pelicans, 31 Wood Ducks (4 hens and 27 chicks), 2 very young turkeys, 6 Yellow-shafted Flickers.

First year male Orchard Oriole, Nygren Wetlands

Nachusa Grasslands field trip

Kevin Kaltenbach showed us around some of his favorite parts of Nachusa on Saturday, June 9th. What a great place! It was hot and sunny but there were no mosquitoes.  The prairie is beginning to really come into bloom and it will be getting better and better in the next few weeks. The restoration work that is ongoing is very impressive, and is done mostly by a wonderful, hard-working group of volunteers!
We found 59 species of birds without working very hard. A Yellow-breasted Chat gave good views but didn’t stick around long. Dickcissels, Lark Sparrows and Henslow’s Sparrows were in good voice and good numbers and we came up with a couple of Bobolinks.
The stars of the butterfly group were a few Baltimore Checkerspots. What beauties!

Blue Grosbeak at Severson Dells FP

On Friday, we learned that Phil Schwab saw a Blue Grosbeak at the feeder at Severson Dells FP. Yesterday, Phil confirmed his sighting and said that he saw the bird on Wednesday of last week. He said that the bird was a young male. This morning, Barbara and I went to Severson Dells, arriving about 0930. We heard a Blue Grosbeak calling from NW of the visitor center, behind a patch of trees, but we could not see it. It stopped calling briefly, then called from further to the northwest (once). We left around 11:30 but did not see the bird during our visit.

Severson fills the feeders in the morning. The feeders were empty this morning. So, if you are around Severson Dells in the morning, keep your eye on the feeders and be familiar with the song of Blue Grosbeak.

We walked several trails and visited the pond. We were surprised to see a Red-eared Slider (turtle) in the pond with the Painted Turtles and a Snapping Turtle. There are a lot of dragonflies and mayflies laying eggs on the pond.

Lark Bunting in McHenry County

A male Lark Bunting has taken up residence at North Branch Conservation Area in McHenry County. This property is owned by McHenry Co. Cons. District; their staff discovered this bird yesterday, June 7. When I did not see any posts or reports on IBET, I called the MCCD office and learned that there had not been any reports today, but that didn’t mean that the bird was not there. So, I took a chance and drove over. I managed to locate the bird in the same general area by 4:15 p.m. and alerted some folks who were able to post its rediscovery on IBET before they headed out there. It was a nice surprise to see Phil Doncheck show up with Karen Lund.

Anyway, here is a link to my post on IL Birder’s Forum with a photo I took which has been cropped and enlarged slightly. A description of the behavior I observed is included in the text of the post. If this link doesn’t highlight so you can go directly to IBF, copy and paste this link into your browser window and hit enter.
It should take you there.
Here is a photo:

Rock Cut SP on June 3

Matthew Winks and I birded Rock Cut SP this morning from 0930-1230. Highlights were 5 Cerulean Warblers, several Acadian Flycatchers, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, and a number of birds carrying nesting material, including: E Wood-pewee, E Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Scarlet Tanager. There were at least 8 Henslow’s Sparrows singing in the old hay field south of the equestrian campground that were heard from the equestrian trail.

Sugar River canoe trip on June 2

On Saturday morning, Barbara and I took a canoe trip down the Sugar River with Don Miller and Matthew Winks. We started at Nelson Bridge in southern Rock Co., WI and floated to the Yale Bridge boat launch in northern Winnebago Co., a trip of approximately 6-7 river miles.

Highlight of the trip was our total of Prothonotary Warblers = 26. There were about equal numbers on both sides of the border, although the WI birds seems to be a little closer together, territory wise. We also had 5 Veeries, Acadian Flycatchers, several Northern Parulas, lots of American Redstarts, and a lot of Wood Ducks. We also were checking dragonflies: Whitetail, some kind of Clubtail (likely Midland), Ebony Jewelwing, American Rubyspot.

Nygren (02 June)

Nygren was farily productive this afternoon (see eBird checklist below)

American White Pelicans reached their highest numbers for my personal records. Numbers pushed 250 but getting a precise estimate was quite difficult especially with birds constantly coming and going. One pair of birds was observed copulating…not really sure what this means for the possibility of local breeding (?).

Shorebirds were best viewed by walking to the SE near the first observation blind at the main oxbow. One adult Pectoral Sandpiper seemed late.