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.

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.

IOS Spring Birding Weekend – May 31 to June 2, 2013

The IOS Spring Birding Weekend will be held May 31 to June 2, 2013. This year we will be based in Mount Sterling and will explore the underbirded region of the state around Siloam Springs State Park where the stars of the show will be the few pairs of Bewick’s Wrens that breed there each year. Breeding season will be in full swing and the field trips will visit a variety of habitats to find warblers, sparrows, wetland birds and night birds.

A wine-tasting is included in with the Saturday night buffet dinner!

Hotel reservations must be made by May 10th.
For full details and registration form see the IOS website at
Questions? Contact Bob Montgomery at or call him at (847) 428-8219.

Thousands of birds today near Pecatonica Illinois

 Today I traveled around Pecatonica Illinois and there was a lot of birds. Over 100 Sandhill cranes, 20 Trumpeter swans, over 50 White Fronted Geese,20 Pintails, 2 Bald Eagles, 5 Northern Harriers, some Greater Scaups, flocks of Robins, Red wing Blackbirds and Grackles. So much more to list, it was a great day. Here are a few images from today.

Signs of Spring—An interesting afternoon

Donna and I have been cruising around western parts of Winnebago County every few days, looking for early migrants. 5 Killdeer 2 weeks ago were clearly that, on a day when we saw not much else beyond 300 Horned Larks, with not a single longspur or bunting.

It’s been slow since, but we gave it another go just before noon today. We were spurred on by Operation Migration’s report of 3 Whooping Cranes yesterday afternoon. We didn’t find them, but there was a total of 19 Sandhill Cranes in two groups on Oliver Road, and a few elsewhere.

Robins were widespread, and we saw scattered Red-wingeds, along with a few small flocks. At Four Lakes F.P., a flock of 18 blackbirds was half grackles and half Rusty.

It’s time for waterfowl, but there is very little open water. One exception was the farmer’s pond at 12704 Telegraph Road, where we saw a couple of Ring-necked Ducks, a Greater Scaup, and half a dozen Redheads. A dozen or so White-fronted Geese were on Oliver Road, and flocks of 60-70 were at both 11059 Trask Bridge Road and the end of Theodorff Road.

Raptors: we saw 10 Red-tailed Hawks, and at the end of Anderson Road we found an adult Bald Eagle and a light-phase Rough-legged Hawk. A second one of the latter flew over us on Oliver Road. Most surprising was our total of 16 Kestrels.

Snow is starting to disappear from the fields, so our Horned Lark count was way down from two weeks ago, and again, no buntings or longspurs. But a couple of meadowlarks were our first of the year.

It never got above 26º, and temperatures forecast for the next week are somewhat winter-like, but it’s clear that spring is on the way.