Boone 2018

As some of you may be aware, I was attempting a big year in Boone Cty this last year. I ended up with 215 species, which was a little lower than the 230 I was hoping for, but this was not a very good year for shorebirds, and that was one area that I ended up being distinctly low on. The first bird I had at the beginning of the year was Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the last bird was Peregrine Falcon.

215 is definitely better than the 198 I had last year, but I do have some big gaps in the list, as I said I ended being low on shorebirds, but I also missed pelican, a few warblers, all of the Terns, and surprisingly enough, any swans.

Some that I did managed to find were: American & Least Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Hooded Warbler, Black-billed & Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Summer Tanager, Red-shouldered Hawk, Snowy Owl, Long-eared Owl, Surf Scoter, Carolina Wren, Northern Pintail, and of course, the Townsend’s Solitaire from the Christmas Bird Count.

Overall, I am pleased with this number, although I hope to turn out a better year in the future.

Boone Cty

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.

Flooded spots in Winnebago County

For those of you planning to do some birding this weekend, here is some information about flooded roads.  The Pecatonica River is very high and has closed some roads.  Steve Gent reported to me that Oliver Road is closed, as is Harrison Road on the east side of  Ferguson Forest Preserve.

There is extensive flooding west of Rockton and all of the low areas of Nygren are under water.  High water has flooded the ag fields along Meridian Road between IL 75 and the Pecatonica River bridge.  There is a lot of water on both sides of Moody Road, and the dead end section of Moody leading to the driveways of the homes down there has water running over the road.

A lot of ice still covers the flooded spots, but it is opening up with warmer temperatures.  I only found a few duck species this afternoon.  Steve G had more in the morning.  He had Canvasback, for instance.  We both had L. Scaup and C. Goldeneye.  I found a single White-fronted Goose at Winnebago Pond and 14 Cackling Geese on Moody Road.  Red-winged Blackbirds are showing up.

If south winds develop, I suspect that a lot of waterfowl will come in with it.

Green-winged Teal

On Thursday, 2/1, I found 8 Green-winged Teal in Hoople’s pond on Stephens Road, Winnebago County.  They were still there today.  They are pretty skittish, so don’t get out of your car if you go to see them.  While I was there, someone in a pick-up truck stopped in the driveway and got out to get mail or something and spooked a bunch of ducks, including the teal, but they returned.

On Thursday, I also had 2 Am. Black Ducks, but they weren’t there today.  About a week ago, a Wilson’s Snipe was in the creek below the pond, but I have seen it in the last 2 visits.

Someone I do not know photographed a Snowy Owl on January 27 and posted it on Facebook.  No location given, and the photo is so zoomed in that there are no identifying details for location.  I have also received a report of up to 8 Short-eared Owls at Ferguson FP at Shirland.  If you go, I recommend parking in the north lot and taking the E-W trail to the west about 300 meters or so, then scanning from there.  Best if after 4:00 pm until you can’t see anymore.

Ipsen Rd

After work today I went out to Ipsen Rd Conservation Area in Boone County. I was mainly looking for Short-eared Owls which I was unsuccessful in locating. I did find a couple of Rough-legged Hawks, one out in the Elmurst/Chicago Wetland CA, and one in Ipsen RD CA, and when I was watching one, a Merlin flew in from the east and landed in Ipsen. There was a Great Blue Heron in Ipsen, and when I was walking down the path on the south side, I had a Northern Harrier flying rather close to me.

Boone Cty 2017

Last year I started seriously birding in Boone Cty, working over the as much of the county as I could. In the end I managed to get 198 species of birds, starting with Great Horned Owl on January 5th and ending with Northern Shrike on December 30th.

I was hoping to crack 200, but that didn’t happen. Some that I couldn’t find or missed that I am hoping to grab this year are, American White Pelican, Northern Pintail, Mute & Trumpeter Swans, all 3 Scoters, Red-shouldered Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, a few Warblers, some of the Sparrows, Carolina Wren, and Snowy Owl.

I did manage to find American & Least Bittern, Virginia Rail, Common Gallinule, Tundra Swan, Bobolink, Brewer’s Blackbird, Merlin, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Black-billed Cuckoo.

I also added 3 birds to Boone County’s bird list on eBird, American Wigeon, Summer Tanager, and Northern Saw-whet Owl.

I am hoping to cap 200 this year, this morning I went out and managed to start off with 26 species starting with Red-bellied Woodpecker and adding to that Rough-legged Hawk, Wilson’s Snipe, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, and Northern Shrike.

Edit: I forgot to mention this but early in the year, I came across an article in the IOS archives about places to bird in Boone Cty by Dan Williams which was incredibly helpful, especially for places in Boone that are not BCCD or park district properties.

My County Big Year

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.