Barbara and I wandered around parts of Winnebago County for 4.5 hours from 9:30-2:00 today. A lot more of the flooded areas along the Pecatonica River have thawed, but the still water at Rock Cut lakes is still almost completely frozen.

At Rock Cut, the far eastern end of the lake at the Lion’s Club fishing pier is open. Found Ring-necked Ducks(15), Lesser Scaup (15), Bufflehead (4), Common Goldeneye (11), Common Merganser (18), Hooded Merganser (24), and Black Duck (2), plus 55 Sandhill Cranes flew over. An adult Bald Eagle was perched in a tree near the dam on Pierce Lake, and there were 12 Turkey Vultures in the air.

Sandhill Cranes seemed to be everywhere. We had 183 at Howard’s farm on IL 70 south of Durand. Small groups were flying in as we sat there and watched. There were also 55 White-fronted Geese, a small number of Cackling Geese and 4 Snow Geese, a dozen Hooded Mergansers, plus 11 Canvasbacks among the notable birds.

In the Pecatonica area, another 41 Sandhill Cranes, 5 Trumpeter Swans (unbanded) were in a flooded cornfield on the east side of Pecatonica Road about 1/4 mile N of Blair Road. There were also 10 Sandhills in that field. Over on Blair Road, just W of its intersection with Best Road, there was a soaring adult Red-shoulded Hawk, 10 Turkeys, Bufflehead (20), more Hooded Mergansers, and our first Eastern Phoebe near the closed parking area near the wetland restoration site on Blair Road. It flew toward the really junk-filled 5 acre lot at the corner of Blair Road and Goeke Road on the county line.

Another 150 White-fronted Geese were in the flooded fields on the south side of Maize Road just W of Goeke Road. A number of duck species were there, and Rusty Blackbirds were in flocks at several places. Sandhill Cranes were, of course, also there! We finished with 62 species.