End of April sightings in Winnebago and Boone Counties

There has been a lot of birding activity in Boone and Winnebago County in the last 2 weeks, but no one has posted.

On August 26, Steve Gent spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched on top of the Rockford News Tower.  It was soaked from the rain and stuck around for several hours until it dried off.

Bank and Cliff Swallows, and Purple Martins are back.  I found 5 species of swallows flying over Pierce Lake during a cold, damp day on April 27, and there were many Cliff Swallows and Chimney Swifts seen over the Rock River today, April 30, from the Nelson St. overlook north of the 15th Avenue bridge in Rockford.

A Black Tern was spotted from Nelson Street overlook yesterday, 4/29, by Larry Balch.  It was still there today, 4/30, seen by several, including Joel Neylon, Brad Grover and me, with the above mass of swallows and swifts.

Steve Gent and John Longhenry had some nice finds yesterday, 4/29, with 2 Long-billed Dowitchers in fluddles by Stumpy’s Cornber (the intersection of Winslow and Hauley Roads west of Shirland) and a Wilson’s Phalarope in the oxbow of the pasture on Oliver Road.  Both speciess were relocated by Steve G today.  Only 1 dowitcher was in the flooded pasture on the south side of Winslow on the Moate farm.

Brad Grover found a Wilson’s Phalarope in a fluddle on the west side of Baxter Road just N of the entrance to Kilbuck Forest Preserve.  It was not there later when I checked, but there are American Pipits at the water’s edge and today I saw a Lark Sparrow singing from the tree line along the road by the fluddle.

Last, but certainly not least, Steve Gent (he’s had a really good week) found a Red-necked Grebe on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut SP.  It was in the middle of the lake straight N from the concession stand at the south boat launch facility.  It was with/near a small flock of Ruddy Ducks when I saw it.  (I also took shelter under the eave of the concession stand deck to stay dry because it was raining pretty steadily when I got there).

There are a lot of fluddles in ag areas right now because of all of the rain.  When the winds shift to the south, shorebirds will start to move in large numbers and these puddles might hold them for a little while for rest and food.   We ought to still have water for next weeks spring bird count.


White-faced Ibis at Rockford airport

A White-faced Ibis was discovered by Tom Little this morning at the Rockford airport.  Phil Doncheck reported that it was still present at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon.

The bird was in a flooded area along Belt Line Road just W of the bridge over the Kishwaukee River.  It is at the south end of the runway.  There is adequate room to park on the shoulder of the eastbound side of Belt Line Road.

Here is a photo: 

Surf Scoter at Rock Cut SP

Around 11:00 a.m. today, I found a Surf Scoter on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut.  It was a young male molting into adult plumage.  The bill was bright orange with white patches at the sides near the base of the bill.  There were no white cheek spots, which presumably had molted into black feathers.  The white patch on the nape was visible, but not fully molted in.  In flight, the wings were all black.

Surf Scoters are only occasional, and mostly rare, in Winnebago County.  When here, they tend to be at Rock Cut or, on rarer occasion, on Lake Summerset.

Another nice surprise today was a singing Lincoln’s Sparrow at the Olson Annex. I suspect that this was an overwintering bird, not a migrant.  It was in a low, wet area of thick shrubs along the entry drive toward the beach.

Townsend’s Solitaire at Rock Cut SP

This morning, Barbara and I found a Townsend’s Solitaire at Rock Cut.  It was perched in the top of a small tree about 100 meters west of the north entrance road on the west side of the parking lot that is on the north side of the prairie planting.   It flew east over the road to the tree line on the north side of the prairie, then back and perched on the split rail fence in the parking lot.  From there, it fed on Virginia Creeper berries.

A Townsend’s Solitaire was seen in the same place on Friday, November 25 and posted to eBird on Monday, November 28.  This is almost certainly the same bird.

It was still present at noon, when Trip Thienemann saw and photographed it.

Here is one of Barbara’s photos of the bird.


Yesterday’s Spring Bird Count

Highlights from our count yesterday included a Harris’s Sparrow near the shelterhouse on Best Road in Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve. I think it is called the “Arrowhead” Sheterhouse.
Two Long-billed Dowitchers were in the company of a variety of other shorebirds in a flooded spot on the north side of Telegraph Road about a quarter mile east of Pecatonica.

Barbara Williams

Black-necked Stilts at Howard Farm

This morning (4/30), John Longhenry called to report that he, Steve Gent and Lee Johnson had discovered 2 Black-necked Stilts at the Howard Farm on IL 70, northwest of Rockford in Winnebago County.  The birds were in the pond near the road on the west side of the farm where a small creek goes under IL 70.

I arrived there around 0735 and saw the birds.  Larry Balch arrived a short while later, and Mary Kisamore reports that she saw them around 10:00 a.m.

Mississippi Kites

I thought that we might use this blog to report MIKI sightings in Rockford this summer. Here is a summary of what I have learned, mostly from others, so far this year:

On May 8, Alan Branhagen and I spotted an adult kite soaring over Westchester Drive by the baseball diamond at Bloom School. A single kite was also seen in that vicinity on May 9 during the spring count.

On June 6, Mike Eickman spotted 2 kites soaring in the area of S. Mulford and Harrison Avenue in SE Rockford. This is a new spot for kite reports. John Longhenry called to tell me that he had a single kite soaring about 1/2 mile East of Bloom School on June 8. On June 12, 3 Chicago birders spotted a kite at the intersection of Highcrest Road and Winthrop, about 3 blocks from Bloom.
Finally, I was told that a birder (whose name I don’t know) spotted 2 kites in the air at S. Mulford and Charles St in SE Rockford. So, we should be checking in the S. Mulford area as well. Arlington Cemetery is down in that area, as well as some subdivisions that have similar vegetation patterns as the Bloom area.