Sugar River FP on 9/16

Alan Branhagen and I birded Sugar River FP this morning from 9:20-11:20 a.m. We walked several trails. Although there were not a lot of warblers, we had a nice variety of birds, including a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, a calling Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, multiple Magnolia, Tennessee and Black & White Warblers and American Redstarts, several Red-breasted Nuthatches, 2 Swainson’s and 1 Gray-cheeked Thrush. Our total was 51 species.

Sugar River canoe trip on June 2

On Saturday morning, Barbara and I took a canoe trip down the Sugar River with Don Miller and Matthew Winks. We started at Nelson Bridge in southern Rock Co., WI and floated to the Yale Bridge boat launch in northern Winnebago Co., a trip of approximately 6-7 river miles.

Highlight of the trip was our total of Prothonotary Warblers = 26. There were about equal numbers on both sides of the border, although the WI birds seems to be a little closer together, territory wise. We also had 5 Veeries, Acadian Flycatchers, several Northern Parulas, lots of American Redstarts, and a lot of Wood Ducks. We also were checking dragonflies: Whitetail, some kind of Clubtail (likely Midland), Ebony Jewelwing, American Rubyspot.

Sugar River on Friday

Don Miller, Barbara and I canoed the Sugar River from Yale Bridge to Two Rivers FP on Friday, 3/16 from 0845-1130. It was a beautiful day to float down the river. Lots of birds were in song, and woodpeckers were drumming on every branch that qualified as a good sound post. Highlights were 3 Red-shouldered Hawks (2 seen), 4 Barred Owls (all heard) and 3 Pileated Woodpeckers (1 seen). 5 Tree Swallows were the first ones I have seen this spring, and Sandhill Cranes were heard calling in 3 places.

Sugar River Forest Preserve

I took the dog for a walk around the loop road at Sugar River around 1:45 this afternoon. On the way, I stopped on Harrison Road to see what birds were hanging out at Winters’ wetland. There were 4 Trumpeter Swans. At least one was banded (black on yellow. They were quite far away, but with my scope I thought that the band was 81F). The banded bird is from the Wisconsin release program if I recall the color code correctly. A few Gadwall were also there, plus a nice male Harrier. It was too bright, and early, for the Short-eared Owl show to be going.

4 Barred Owls were calling at Sugar River. Nice day for a walk, although the afternoon was otherwise quiet for calling birds other than the owls.

Sunday morning @ Sugar River FP (Winnebago Co.)

Jack Armstrong, Russ Cline and I met at Sugar River FP this morning to look for the Yellow-crowned Night-heron (didn’t see it) and migrants at the forest preserve. We had mixed results.

There were very few warbler species or individuals. Not even the Prothonotary pair or one of the Yellow-throated Warblers was vocalizing. There were quite a few flycatchers, including a pair of Acadians. I heard a distant Yellow-bellied, and there were a lot of Great Crested and pewees calling and seen. A Pileated Woodpecker was making a lot of noise with drumming and vocalizing just downstream, a Broad-winged Hawk adult flew in a perched in good view while calling repeatedly for about 5 minutes. A Red-shouldered Hawk called from across the river to the west.

From there, we headed to Oliver Road, where the shorebirds were almost non-existent. A single Least Sandpiper was the only non-Killdeer/Spotted.

The only place we had shorebirds was a flooded field along Telegraph Road just East of Pecatonica. We had about 20 peeps, including 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers with the remainder being Least. There were also 2 Semipalmated Plovers there, and a pair of copulating Spotted Sandpipers.

We ended the day at the flooded fields north of Ridott, where, you guessed it, there were almost no shorebirds. We did find a single Lesser Yellowlegs.

After Jack headed home, Russ and I finished at Nieman Pond, where there was an adult Bald Eagle and a pair of Ring-billed Gulls. Between all of us, we managed to find around 90 species for the morning.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-heron

Larry Balch, Barbara and I took a drive up to Sugar River FP this morning. We found 1 adult and 1 juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-heron in the swamp in the center of the loop road. As far as we know, this is the first sighting of a juvenile YCNH this year. The other reports have been an adult.

On the way to Sugar River, we stopped at the puddle on Meridian Road where I saw the shorebirds yesterday. There were a fair number of birds, but of much different species composition–mostly Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers, with some Pectoral Sandpipers and a few peeps, including 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper. The others looked like Least, but we didnt’ get a scope on them. There were also 2 Snipe.

Moody/Blodgett intersection puddle had a lot of Great Egrets, Great Blue and Green Herons, plus an uncounted number of Wood Ducks, which just seemed to keep flying out of the corn in small groups. 2 Osprey were at Nygren, viewed from the observation deck.

Water, water everywhere

I took a drive up to Sugar River FP this evening to see if the loop road was still open during the flooding. It wasn’t. Sugar River FP is closed until further notice due to flooding.
A little further downstream, Winters’ wetland restoration is really flooded! I bet Dave is glad that he doesn’t have crops in that field anymore. The road between Shirland and the bridge at the junction of the Pec and Sugar Rivers is under water and closed from Shirland and IL 75 ends.
Along Meridian Road between IL 75 and the bridge over the Pec River, the fields on both sides appear to be completely flooded (can’t see the slightly higher ground to the east because of the corn). The water is up to the top of the fence posts on the east side of the road.
Didn’t try to go to Pecatonica. The water in the river is so much higher along Meridian Road that I sincerely doubt that Blair Road is open along much of its length, as is all of Pec Wetlands FP. This flooding demonstrates the value of having this property in wetland restoration instead of corn and soybeans–no crop losses and less topsoil washed away downstream.