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December, 2016 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It was cool to start and if it warmed-up you could not tell because the increasing wind more than cancelled any increase in temperature. The warming trend over the last several days opened a small hole in Lake Law which attracted 8 to 10 Herring Gulls during my visit. A much larger opening was created in A.E. Sea on the north end where Lake Law empties into it. This attracted well over a thousand Canada Geese and 3 Common Mergansers. No other species of geese were detected as all the birds eventually flushed. A walk around the Sparrow Hedge area was not very productive with only a Blue Jay, a bunch of Black-capped Chickadees, a couple of American Robins, and a group of approx. 20 American Tree Sparrows being found. A circuit of the Big Woods produced only a pair of Great Horned Owls of note. The Main Injector Moats produced an American Black Duck, a Lesser Scaup, a pair of Common Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers (10) and a Ruddy Duck. Checking out both Main Ring Woods produced nothing of interest although an American Crow was found along Ring Road. Main Ring Lake added more Common Mergansers (14), a Ring-billed Gull and 2 more Herring Gulls. Even though there was still plenty of seed in the Ed Center Feeders, only a small number of the commonly expected winter birds were in the area. Dave

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The feeders were all filled with great care, in hopes that some birds soon would be there. Sorry, I guess the Christmas spirit has got to me. There were a good number of birds at the feeders, the best being a Hairy Woodpecker and a nice adult White-crowned Sparrow. The other common species were Mourning Doves, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees (lots), White-breasted Nuthatch, American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos (lots), Northern Cardinals and American Goldfinches. Added at the Roads and Grounds feeders were a Fox Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow and House Sparrows. Among several Canada Geese and Mallards in the Main Injector Moat were several American Black Ducks, a sleeping Ruddy Duck and 2 fly-in male Canvasbacks. Added in the Main Ring was a Great Horned Owl and a couple of Song Sparrows. Ryan Frantzen of Facilities Engineering showed me a picture of a dead Great Blue Heron, apparently struck by a vehicle along A1 Road. Marcia and Gail were also in the Lab this morning and beyond finding most of the birds I had listed above, they added some other interesting sightings. Some of their key birds were a Common Merganser, American Coots (2), American Kestrels (2), an American Crow, a fair number of Horned Larks (12) and a House Finch. Dave

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Here is a review of the 2016 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held today Sat. Dec. 17, 2016. The weather turned out to be much better than first expected with overcast skies, temps in the low 20's, fairly moderate winds and snow on the ground but none falling. Here I will only be referring to the birds found inside Fermilab's boundaries. We found 45 species, a considerable drop from our record count of last year (2015) of 62 species. This year's numbers are above the average (overall 1976-2015) for the Lab of 41 species but below the average for the last 10 years of 51 species. This number of species (45) was still better than we had anticipated in the days leading up to this year's CBC. Most of our low expectations were due to the diminishing bird populations over the last several weeks, the lack of open water and the predicted weather conditions. There were 6 species of waterfowl found, not bad considering the conditions. The waterfowl found included Canada Geese (386-quite low), Gadwall (1), American Black Ducks (2), Mallards (194), Canvasback (3-new Lab high) and Common Goldeneye (145-about average). Raptors were well represented with Northern Harriers (5), a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawks (14), a Rough-legged Hawk and American Kestrels (6-a high over the last several years). The raptor numbers are even more impressive if you include the owls: Great Horned Owls (9), Short-eared Owls (2) and a Barred Owl. All the expected woodpeckers were found in moderate numbers, only Northern Flickers (2) were notably low. Sparrows were fairly well represented with 7 species including American Tree Sparrows (167-below avg.), Fox Sparrows (6-above avg.), Song Sparrows (13), Swamp Sparrows (9), White-throated Sparrows (12-above avg.), White-crowned Sparrows (6-above avg.) and Dark-eyed Juncos (126-a little below avg.). Some of the other birds of note were Great Blue Herons (3), American Coots (2), Northern Shrikes (2), American Crows (3-still low since 2003), Horned Larks (17), Brown Creepers (7-tied highest count from 25 years ago), an Eastern Bluebird and Cedar Waxwings (105-second highest count). Some notable misses were Common Merganser, Wilson's Snipe (we usually get 1 or 2), any gulls, Eastern Screech-Owl (again), Red-breasted Nuthatch and any blackbird (of any species). In conclusion, all three count groups had a fairly productive morning, but the afternoon in most areas was quite disappointing. Dave

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Glenn made a late afternoon trip to the Lab and despite the frozen conditions found some waterfowl including an American Black Duck (in an open ditch) and 22 Common Goldeneye (Main Injector Moat). Other highlights of his visit were a Northern Shrike on west Wilson Road and Horned Larks (60 along the Injector Ring). Hopefully, all of these will hang around for this Saturday's Christmas Bird Count. Dave

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another late afternoon/evening trip to the Lab was quite cold, but clear with minimal wind. The feeders had about the same birds as were found yesterday. The only other birds of note before dark were a Northern Harrier and an American Kestrel. The highlight of the trip was finally contacting an Eastern Screech-Owl, the first of the year. Dave

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The snow this morning was not as bad as we expected, but it, and the 95 percent frozen waters around the Lab did affect the birding and our results. The only water birds of note were several American Coots (3-Main Injector Moat) and Great Blue Herons (3-various locations). Most of the birds we recorded for the morning were found around the Ed Center feeders. Some of the birds found there were American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows (3), a White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos (quite a few at each feeder group), quite a few bright Northern Cardinals (including a female with a pronounced whitish forehead) and House Finches. Added at the Roads and Grounds feeders was a male Red-winged Blackbird. Other birds found were a Cooper's Hawk, American Crows (3) and Horned Larks (20 plus at the Buffalo feeders). Dave

Monday, December 5, 2016

A late afternoon visit to the Lab did not produce much. The main target of screech-owls still remain a distant memory. The feeders were filled again, but not much seed had been used. Still, there was a variety of birds in the area including 3 Red-winged Blackbirds (2-males and 1 female). The other birds found there, mostly expected, were Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, a Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals (quite a few), House Finches and House Sparrows. A mixed flock of Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs was encountered along Main Ring Road. Also found were about a dozen Common Goldeneye (returning to Main Ring Lake for the night) and a Great Horned Owl (heard calling on the Lab's east side). Peter also reported a Peregrine Falcon was sighted from Wilson Hall this morning. Dave

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It was cool and overcast to start the morning. The minimal winds made these conditions quite tolerable. Later, conditions cooled down just before the snow started. There were just a few additions to what was found on Thursday. Found at A.E. Sea and the Sea of Evanescence were a Tundra Swan, Snow Geese (2-probably same ones from Thurs. Actually, they have been around for at least 3 weeks.), Canada Geese (several hundred), an American Black Duck, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teal. Sparrows in the area were American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, a Swamp Sparrow and White-throated Sparrows. Also, another bright House Finch was found. Found in other areas of the Lab, as the snow was starting, were Pied-billed Grebes, Gadwall, Common Goldeneye (2 pr.), Hooded Mergansers (3) and American Coots (about 100). Dave

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The morning was cool, overcast and windy with an occasional mist. First of all, the Education Center Feeders (near the Pine St. Entrance) have been filled. They should be active since the partial filling I made last week was totally cleaned out. There was a number of waterfowl on A.E. Sea early including a couple hundred Canada Geese, Mallards, about two dozen Northern Shovelers and two Snow Geese. These appeared to be the same two Snow Geese found about a week and a half ago (juveniles - one white and one dark). There were still some sparrows in the area, mostly American Tree Sparrows and a couple of Fox Sparrows. Closer to A.E. Sea, several Song Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows were added. A good number of Dark-eyed Juncos and a White-crowned Sparrow were later added in the Garden Club. Found in the area of the Rings were a Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall (4), Common Goldeneye (2) and American Coots (about a dozen). Interestingly, I found a Great Blue Heron perched inside the west side of Main Ring Woods, most likely to be out of the wind. Dave

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