Rock Cut SP, Kieselburg FP on June 23

This morning, Phil Doncheck and I birded Rock Cut SP and Kieselburg Forest Preserve. At Rock Cut, we walked a long loop. Starting at the dam parking lot, we headed west down the paved rec trail, then turned north at the mountain bike trail that enters from the right. Where that trail comes to a “T” intersection, we turned left (W) again and continued until the first trail junction which goes left, back toward the paved trail. At the paved trail, we turned right and followed it across the 1st bridge. Before the second bridge, we turned left into the old forest preserve. Finally, we rejoined the Rock Cut trail up the hill on the paved road past the old shelter house and returned to the main park loop road near the bathrooms at the large picnic area south of the dam. (Whew!)

Highlights were Cerulean, Hooded, and Kentucky warblers, all seen well, plus Acadian Flycatchers, 2 Scarlet Tanagers, and at least 4 calling Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Last Tuesday, 6/17, I had a Black-billed Cuckoo and 2 Veerys along the Rock Cut trail portion, but we didn’t see or hear them today.

A Yellow-breasted Chat was calling from the tree line at the south end of the north entrance prairie. 3 Willow Flycatchers were also singing there. No Sedge Wrens yet, though.

From there, we headed over to Hart Road. The old hay field had 3 singing Henslow’s Sparrows. A Redstart was singing from the area of the large oak tree to the west of the equestrian trail.

At Kieselburg, highlights were a Bell’s Vireo in the thickets along the south edge of the Sedge Fen. A Henslow’s Sparrow was singing from the grassy area south of the model plane flying field. Again, no Sedge Wrens were heard in the Sedge Fen. Maybe in July?

Loggerhead Shrike family near Savanna

Yesterday, June 19, Anne Straight posted on IBET that she had seen a family of 4 Loggerhead Shrikes on Spring Lake Road, immediately south of Ayer’s Prairie, in Carroll County. There were 2 adults and 2 juveniles. This road borders the airport, which is on IL 84.

After my BBS route today, which ended north of Shannon, IL, I drove to Savanna to look for the shrike family and found them, still on Spring Lake Road as Anne had described. I first had 1 adult feeding a fence lizard to a begging chick. The chick could fly and was following the adult around begging to be fed. It was pretty interesting to watch the shrike slice and dice the lizard into bite size chunks for the chick. Then, I found a second adult about 100 yards further north on the road, and it flew into a thicket of Black Locusts. I assume that the other juvenile was hiding in the thicket.

Rockford airport-Bell Bowl

Jeff Donaldson and I checked out Bell Bowl around noon today. Because of our late start, we figured that a lot of birds might be quiet. We did not find any Blue Grosbeaks. We did find a Bell’s Vireo (how appropriate), 3 Bob-o-links, up to 6 Grasshopper Sparrows, 2 Savannah Sparrows, and many, many Dickcissels. I fear that the latter birds will be out of business as soon as the tenant farmer mows the alfalfa field at the top of the prairie slope.