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.

Glen Green Open Space

I was at a new area that opened up back in October yesterday; the Glen Green Open Space. It is a small prairie bordered with a belt of pines and other trees on Bus. 20 and Distillery Rd owned by the Belvidere Park District.
I didn’t get too much of interest, a few sparrows, some waxwings, but there was one interesting find; a very late Common Yellowthroat.

Ipsen Rd Conservation Area

I was in Ipsen Rd CA again this morning, I stayed pretty much in the southern part of Ipsen and didn’t go into Newburg Village CA.
I had a pretty good showing this morning with several species of sparrow including Fox, White-crowned, White-throated, Field, Swamp, and one Clay-colored. One Hermit Thrush. Some waterfowl including American Widgeon, Blue-winged Teal, and Gadwall. Probably my favorites for the day were the Northern Harrier that flew over, and the four Rusty Blackbirds that were in the pines.

Ipsen Rd and County Line

This morning I was at Ipsen Rd Conservation Area in Boone Cty. There were quite a lot of sparrows in small groups all over the sites with a few groups of White-crowned Sparrows, and an enormous mixed flock of blackbirds stirring as I got there. Mostly Redwings, but there was at least one Rusty Blackbird in the mix. In one little patch of woods there was a group of Ruby and Golden crowned Kinglets, a Brown Creeper, a Red-breasted Nuthatch and few others. The best for the day was in County Line Forest Preserve on the Winnebago Cty side, there was a Peregrine Falcon perched in a tree eating a bird.

Kieselburg Forest Preserve

Barbara and I visited Kieselburg FP this afternoon around noon.  The time of our visit was calculated for dragonflies, not birds.  While Barbara was out in the prairie looking for odes, I walked the loop trail looking for birds.  My highlights were a Bell’s Vireo and 2 Henslow’s Sparrows.  Next highlight was a Cooper’s Hawk in display flight.  I managed 43 species despite the time of day.



Howard farm

Phil Doncheck called me at 0730 today to report that he found a Ross’ Goose and a blue morph Snow Goose at the Howard farm. I arrived there around 0900 and found both birds fairly quickly. There were about 350 Canada Geese there and about 15 Cackling Geese, but I didn’t try very hard to find all of those, so there could be more.

Lake Summerset had only a female Redhead and 3 Herring Gulls.

Phil told me later that he found a Horned Grebe and a Common Merganser at the north end of Westlake, by the dam.

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.