Ferguson FP and other NW Winnebago spots (3/30)

Larry Balch, Fran Morel and I birded northwest Winnebago County this morning.  Our goal was to try to find the immature Golden Eagle that has been seen on and off since December, but we had no luck with that species.  We did find other birds of interest.

We started at Ferguson FP, where the highlights were 5 swans:  4 Trumpeter and 1 Tundra.  Waterfowl included a pair of Blue-winged Teal, about 10 N. Pintails, 4 N. Shovelers, a few Ring-necked Ducks, 6 Hooded Mergansers and a lot of Wood Ducks.

A few Tree Swallows were flying over the marsh and Sugar River.  Two E. Phoebes were singing from the bottoms of the river.  Quite a few TVs and up to 6 Bald Eagles were soaring over the marsh and surrounding hills, plus 2 N. Harriers over the marsh and scattered Red-tails here and there.

Oliver Road had our first Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Wilson’s Snipe, and a pair of Killdeer, plus 2 Canada Geese standing on the old Great Horned Owl nest.  The owl must have fledged her young and left the nest.

Post-snow NW Winnebago Co. birding

I went cruising this morning, hoping to find big flocks of longspurs, as Karen Lund did yesterday in McHenry County. I found one—Lapland Longspur, that is, not flock. I also found only one raptor, a beautiful adult Peregrine Falcon perched at the top of a dead tree where the creek crosses Knapp Road about a half-mile west of Harrison. After I watched it for a few minutes, it flew off in a south by southeast direction.

There were two Rusty Blackbirds all by themselves on Wempleton Rd, just north of Route 70. Other than that, I saw mixed flocks of grackles and redwings, small flocks (up to 40) of robins, fair numbers of Horned Larks, Tree Sparrows, juncos, and a few Killdeer. I heard one Eastern Meadowlark. There was very little water that wasn’t iced over.

Rusty Blackbirds

All of you who are seeing Rusty Blackbirds please make a note of the number and location.  Please send the information to http://www.ilbirds.com/php?topic=55707.0

or to pagephila@gmail.com

The state wants to have some data about the number and migration of Rusty Blackbirds.  Joyce and I saw about 80 along River road south of Cherry Valley on Wed..  Patti Oliveri has seen some in her driveway and John Longhenry has an excellent picture of one.

Jack Armstrong

Pierce Lake ice melting slowly

Even with weather in the 60’s and 70’s the last four days, there has been little increase in open water at Pierce Lake in Rock Cut SP. The east end is now open only as far west as the shelter in the Lions picnic area. That’s 2-3 times as much as Friday, but there aren’t many more waterfowl. Today around noon there were 14 Common Mergs, 2 male Red-breasted Mergs, a dozen Lesser Scaup, half a dozen Ring-necked Ducks, a pair of Buffleheads, 4 Mallards, no (!) geese, a dozen Herring Gulls, and a lone Ring-billed Gull. Missing from Friday were a Gadwall, a Common Goldeneye, a Greater Scaup, and 2 adult Bald Eagles.

The teeny patch of open water at the west end near the dam held 16 more Herring Gulls,m 2 more Ring-billed Gulls, and a few Mallards.

A Killdeer has returned to the Home Depot parking lot in Rockford.