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April, 2017 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The weather this morning can best be described in one word, wet. The rain was not heavy, but mixed with the constant wind and low temps (around 40 deg) had a definite impact on the morning's results. The rain yesterday and today produced a lot of nice fuddles but, as Peter said, "they have not been around long enough to attract any birds". The morning started with a ratty looking 2nd or 3rd year Bald Eagle flying over Lake Law. Later, we found it by the Swenson Road Marsh looking for an easy meal and, in the process, driving off the only shorebirds we saw all morning before we could make an ID. Other birds worth mentioning for the morning were Wood Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, an American Kestrel, Soras, an Eastern Kingbird (first of year), American Crows, a Horned Lark, a Vesper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrows. To the best of our ability we believe that all three Osprey nests are being brooded. The increasing depth of the nests plus the rainy weather made it hard to be absolutely certain, since the birds would be hunkered down as low as possible to protect their investment. Dave

Friday, April 28, 2017

The weather was almost perfect being mostly cloudy, a little cool (but quite comfortable) and, most importantly, with very mild winds. The Sparrow Hedge/Lakes Region was quite active. Sparrows in particular appear to be well into their migration. Sparrows found were Field Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Henslow's Sparrows (these were found along N. Eola Rd), Song Sparrows, a Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrows (most numerous), White-throated Sparrows (2nd most numerous) and a few White-crowned Sparrows. Waterfowl have ramped way down while shorebirds, though increasing, are still only showing up in small numbers. Found at A.E. Sea were small numbers of Blue-winged Teal (3-4), Northern Shovelers (1), Green-winged Teal (3), Greater Yellowlegs (1), Lesser Yellowlegs (over 12) and a Wilson's Snipe. Sora were also heard in the reeds along the shore. Also found in the area were a Hermit Thrush and a Bank Swallow among the many swallows over the sea. Only one flock of about 20 warblers was found (inside the Main Ring) including Black-throated Green Warblers (about 3), quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and a few Palm Warblers. Other birds found throughout the Lab were Wood Ducks (several pairs), Turkey Vultures (2), American Kestrel, American Coot (8), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and the Western Meadowlark (still singing in Main Injector Area). Osprey status at the three nests was a little hard to assess in some cases. First of all Nest 1 (Main Inj. Area) is definitely being brooded. Nest 2 at Nepese marsh has become so deep it takes some concentration to evaluate, but it also appears to be being brooded. The status of rouge Nest 3 (along Giese Rd.), which this pair built on a power pole ignoring the nice platform provided, was hard to determine. Dave Shemanske saw the nest empty just before my visit when I found both Ospreys apparently working on the nest. Glenn was in yesterday (Thur.) and this evening (Fri.) scouting, then conducting, a "nocturnal flight call program" . With the southwest winds on Thur. he had a few flyovers. Unfortunately the north winds on Fri. squelched any migration flyovers. He did, however, come up with some good birds of interest around the Lab before nightfall. Shorebirds found were Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs. Other wetland birds found were the expected American Coots plus Soras (2) and two, first-of-the-year, Virginia Rails. Two other first-of-the-year birds were a Marsh Wren and an American Pipit. Additional finds were Horned Larks (2), a Chipping Sparrow, Vesper Sparrows (3), a Savannah Sparrow and a Song Sparrow. Dave

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I've been on vacation for several weeks. During that time, Peter has kept the Lab's list up-to-date with recent sightings. I'll review the highlights of those sightings here to this date. Down along the Gulf Coast and into western Texas, the migration of Neotropical birds was well behind schedule. It appears conditions here are similar with the only warblers found so far were the non-neotropical Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers and a Pine Warbler. Waterfowl found, mostly in small numbers, included Wood Ducks, Gadwall, American Black Ducks, Wood Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Ring- necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks. Pied-billed Grebes were also found in small numbers while American Coots were found in numbers over 200 at times. Most of the shorebirds for the month were either Greater Yellowlegs or Lesser Yellowlegs, while some Solitary Sandpipers and Wilson's Snipe were also found. Yes, Killdeer were also in the mix. Raptors, beyond the expected Red-tailed Hawks, were a Bald Eagle, Northern Harriers (2), Cooper's Hawks (2), a Sharp-shinned Hawk and several American Kestrels (some associated with nest boxes around the Lab). Then there are the Ospreys. All six from the previous 3 nesting pairs have returned. They have shown loyalty to their previous nests and have begun brooding or at least are preparing for the breeding process. Nine sparrow species were found during the month including American Tree Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows. Some of the other highlights for the month were quite a few American White Pelicans (at times up to 150 were found), Soras (2) and Sandhill Cranes (As Denis pointed out some of these sightings were solo's, which could point to a possible nesting of the pair that was around the Lab earlier in the spring). Additional highlights were Great Horned Owls (Peter actually found a pair with a fledged owlet), a Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebes, Brown Creepers, a Winter Wren (Glenn found one in Owls Nest Woods), both Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes and Rusty Blackbirds. Now, for the "cream of the crop" sightings for April. First, was a Common Loon found by Glenn on Lake Law. Next, Denis found 2 American Bitterns inside the Main Ring and Peter found another across from the Security Office. Marcia and Gail added a singing Western Meadowlark in the Main Injector area. Glenn had a flyover Yellow-headed Blackbird near A.E. Sea. Finally, a new species for the Lab's Bird List was a Mountain Bluebird (female) found at the south end of A.E. Sea and confirmed by Peter and Glenn. Dave

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