Yesterday I was birding over several areas in Boone Cty. I started with Kinnikinnick Creek Conservation Area in the morning where I had 45 species including a woodpecker slam, and a Red-shouldered Hawk. Then at 1:00 I joined Gary Jahnke at Ipsen Rd CA where we had a nice variety including Great Egret, Greater Yellow Legs, Sandhill Crane, and Barn Swallow. We then went down Wheeler Rd where we found a group of 20 Wilson’s Snipe in one of the fields. We later met up again at Garden Prairie Slough for night birding where we had a Virginia Rail and a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
This morning I was in Spencer Park in Belvidere and visiting the feeders at the nature center was an adult male Purple Finch, he made several trips to the feeders.
For those who have been waiting for the northern sites in Boone to reopen, all of the sites are now open except for Kinnikinnick Creek CA which the roads still need to be re-graded. So, Piscasaw Fen, O O Stimes, Tuttle Clarkson, and Edwards are all open.
The other day I found an American Woodcock in the backyard when I was checking my birdhouses. Always fun to record a new yard bird.
After the strong southerly wind yesterday, I drove around some parts of Winnebago County to see if any new birds came in on the wind. Hoople’s pond on Stephens Road still had 5 Green-winged Teal and I also found Steve Gent.
On Fish Hatchery Road, west of Winnebago Road, I found 5 White-fronted Geese in a flock of ~450 Canada Geese in corn stubble on the south side of the road about 1/2 mile E of Thedorff Road.
A Peregrine Falcon has been reported in downtown Rockford from time to time on eBird. This morning, Steve called me to tell me that he had spotted the falcon on the Rockford News Tower. It was still there when I arrived just before noon.
I visited Klehm for 90 minutes from 12:30-2:00 pm on Saturday, 1/13. Highlights were 22 Common Redpolls in a flock with 10 siskins, 2 Hermit Thrushes, 16 Cedar Waxwings, and 8 Red-breasted Nuthatches. There was only 1 Robin.
I heard the redpolls before I saw them. After I heard them, I played a recording of their calls and they immediately flew in with the siskins and began feeding in birch catkins. They were in the area of trail marker #10 on the west loop paved trail.
Klehm is closed on Sudays during the winter.
I looked for birds in the NW partof Winnebago County started around 10:00 am until 2:00pm today, then went back to Ferguson at 4:00 pm and met Phil D, Steve G, & Joel N to look for Short-eared Owls . Highlights were 37 Wild Turkeys on Yale Bridge Rd. just W of the Blackhawk Tree Farm, a male harrier at Yale Bridge/Prairie Rd, a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk at Pec Wetlands along Blair Road. 3 immature White-crowned Sparrows were in a large mixed species flock of sparrows on Moody Road. Over 75 Lapland Longspurs were also on Moody with many Horned Larks.
At Ferguson, we saw 1 Northern Shrike and 2 Short-eared Owls. A fly-over Belted Kingfisher near the pines was odd.
This year I decided to have a go at a county Big Year. I consulted with some of the luminaries in the county, and found that no one had done this before. I did know of a few day records, but no more. So asked what a good total would be, and was told 130. I would miss a few weeks because of trips to Colombia and the UK (2). With that in mind I set to. A big thanks to all those who tipped me off to various birds throughout the year: John Longhenry , Dan and Barbara Williams, Lee and Lynda Johnson, Joel Neylon and Phil Doncheck. Although the year is not quite done, I do not see my total improving. It stands at 242. I know Dan Williams is there about. My list abides by ABA rules.
Although this was a successful year, I did miss a few species: White-rumped and Upland Sandpipers, Yellow-headed Blackbird, marbled godwit, Surf Scoter, White-winged crossbill and cattle egret. As far as I know, no-one saw hooded warbler in the county.
Highlights were many; night herons in winter, northern shrike ( a poor year for them), a late Pine Grosbeak in April, American Bittern and calling Least Bittern (both new county birds), red-necked (2) and Wilson’s phalaropes (5+), black-necked stilts ( 5th county record), Caspian Tern, Neotropic cormorant ( first county record found by John Longhenry and myself), Brewer’s blackbird, Virginia rail, Le Conte’s , clay-colored, and Henslow’s sparrow, American golden plover ( new county bird for me). Finally finding sedge and marsh wrens after much trying. Managing to find cerulean warbler, which is getting more difficult every year. Catching up with the winter finches; good numbers of pine siskin, purple finches, red-breasted nuthatches and one red crossbill, merlin and both swans. The year ended with a bonus snowy owl shortly before my first UK trip. Another has been found as I write this.
An eventful year, with many good birds in the county, this was a good year to do this. Although I am happy with my total, I know it can be beaten.
Merry Christmas all. I went out birding this morning looking for Snowy Owl or other field birds. I didn’t find any Snowy Owls but I did run across a flock of Lapland Longspurs with a couple of Horned Larks and one Snow Bunting. Elsewhere, there were various groups of Horned Larks and a Northern Harrier.
There seems to be a pretty decent amount of Merlins about, I just had a couple more in the last 2 days, I had one in Dahlquist Park yesterday for the CBC and on my way to church this morning there was one on a pole along Mulford Rd just south of Riverside.
Finch activity at Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford (NE corner of N. Main and Auburn Sts) is heating up over the past few days.
A smattering of Pine Siskins has been hanging around for over a week. This morning, Steve Gent and John Longhenry had 45 in a flock. Around 11:45 am, I had a flock of 55. About the same time, I had a flock of 18 Red Crossbills fly over headed NE. Yesterday, Larry Balch had a flock south of the chapel which flew SW.
John Longhenry had 2 White-winged Crossbills yesterday at the circle with the hemlocks north of the chapel. A migrating Cooper’s Hawk soared over the cemetery around 1:00 p.m. yesterday.
There are a lot of cones on the conifers in the cemetery, particularly on the hemlocks. This place bears frequent checking.