Northern Shrike near Westlake

Northern Shrikes are hard to find this winter.   The Rockford CBC only recorded one-a bird I chanced upon on Smith Road about 1 mile west of Winnebago Road.

Today, I decided to check the drainage of the north branch of Kent Creek between Auburn Road and Dickinson Road north/south and Harrison Road and Eddie Roads E-W.  I had no luck there, so I decided to try Smith Road.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a Northern Shrike perched on top of the exact same shrubby tree as the shrike I saw back on December 14.

After a while, it flew up to the wires and, a few minutes later, a car came by and it flushed.  I was unable to relocate it, but I didn’t try for very long.

A Great Blue Heron was fishing in Coolidge Creek just below the Westlake dam on Saunders Rd.  It caught a carp that was bigger than its head while I was watching.

Short-eared Owls at Ferguson FP

3-5 Short-eared Owls have been seen at dusk as they hunt over the marsh at Ferguson Forest Preserve at Shirland.  Best viewing is from about 1/2-3/4 miles west of Harrison Road along the Sugar River levee.  I saw 3 (possibly 4) there on Friday, 1/23, and Matt Vincent reported 4-5 there on Sunday evening, 1/25.

The private driveway on the north side, which is the way we used to get to the remnant prairie,  is now posted.

Rock Cut Ducks

I made a quick stop at Pierce Lake today while running errands.  Most of the usual suspects were present in the open water, like the drake Redhead that has been there for quite a while.  Ditto for 3 Coots and 3 American Black Ducks.

I also spotted a drake Wood Duck and a hen Gadwall.  Only 2 Herring gulls were present in the larid department.

January 1, 2015 Field Trip

Early on the first day of the new year, six NCIOS members met at the home of Lee and Lynda Johnson for the purpose of starting the year right by looking for birds.

Lee led us to Rockton Cemetery, Victoria Lake, Rock Cut State Park, and Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve where we gathered a total of 44 species of birds. Highlights were A Lesser Black-backed Gull, 13 species of Waterfowl including Mute Swans, and a large collection of winter passerines including a Belted Kingfisher, Brown Creepers, Eastern Bluebirds, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

We concluded with a hot bowl of chili at the Johnsons. A great way to begin the new year.