Lately I have been spending quite a bit of time in Spencer in Belvidere. It has proved to be an excellent spot to look for spring migrants. This morning, I had several vireos on the river trail, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the wetland and looking into the fenced in landfill I saw Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrows and Bobolinks.
I was LIB yesterday morning, I managed to find a pretty good variety of birds, including Golden-crowned & Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow, Great-horned Owl, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Rusty Blackbird, Winter Wren, and a first for the year House Wren.
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.
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.
Aaron Boone tipped me off to a shorebird spot in South Beloit that should be checked regularly this spring. It is the South Beloit Park. Yes, the same one that is closed to the public because it is contaminated with bacteria–e. coli to be specific, and there is a chain link fence across the driveway entrance with a sign warning that anyone who enters is subject to being arrested.
There is good news! You don’t have to enter the park and incur the wrath of the authorities! Park on the side street and walk back to the south along the recreation path that parallels Dorr Road. There are openings in the vegetation where you can set up your telescope and scan the mudflats below for shorebirds. A telescope is essential, however, so, if you don’t have one, go there with someone who does.
Today, I saw Solitary, Spotted, Least (22), Semipalmated(4), and Pectoral Sandpipers, plus 18 Dunlin, several Lesser Yellowlegs and, of course, a few Killdeer. The mud flats are fairly extensive, and could have pipits as well, but not today.
From Rockford, take IL 251 N to Prairie Hill Road. Go West on Prairie Hill to Dorr Road, turn right, and, after passing by Lake Victoria (on the right) you will come to the park. You can’t miss it because the entrance has the chain link fence across it. Turn left on the street opposite the entrance, park there, and walk back. It is less than 200 feet to the first opening in the vegetation. A better opening is only 100″ or so further to the south.