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December, 2014 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Sunday, December 28, 2014

We had a very unremarkable morning of birding in the Lab today. The usual Common Mergansers were still being found in fairly good numbers in most of the open water areas. There were also several Common Goldeneyes in a few of these areas and a couple of Lesser Scaup on Lake Law. An American Kestrel was in the Main Injector area. The Ed Center Feeders were empty of both seed and birds, but soon came alive as the seed was replaced (nothing of significance was found here). Birds were hard to come by in most other locations. The only real highlight of the morning was a single Snow Bunting feeding along Main Ring Road. Dave

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today was our Christmas Bird Count day, and we had some of the best weather for a count in recent years. Temps were at or just below freezing throughout the day with mostly calm wind conditions for most of the morning and only increasing slightly in the afternoon. Unfortunately, these great conditions did not produce a great variety of birds. We ended up with only 43 species within the Lab. This is the lowest number in thirteen years. Our overall number of birds was not that bad with 3336 seen, but last year we tallied 5822 and our average over the last 10 years is 4780. This is not to say we did not have some good birds. The best birds were a Black-crowned Night-Heron and two Ruby-crowned Kinglets (both were first CBC finds for the Lab). Some of the other more notable sightings were a Northern Shrike (only one found in the entire count circle), a Red-winged Blackbird (usually only found during half of our recent CBC's), a Purple Finch (only seen on 2 previous CBC's) and two Pine Siskins (only seen in 5 previous CBC's). We had a good number of Raptors including Northern Harriers (11, previous high was 9), a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawks (2), Red-tailed Hawks (16) and American Kestrels (3). Some of the expected birds that had interesting numbers were Common Merganser (280 found, previous high 118), Mourning Dove (215 found, highest in 8 years), American Crow (2 found; these still remain low over the last 12 years), Horned Lark (1 found, lowest in 10 years) and Swamp Sparrow (20 found; tied highest number from 25 years ago). Some of the notable misses that helped keep our total species count low were Wilson's Snipe, Eastern Screech-Owl, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing and White-throated Sparrow. Dave

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It was very warm and quite foggy early, and these conditions did not change throughout the morning. The now largely open waters of the Lab provided habitat for more waterfowl than in recent visits. Starting with Lake Law among the expected Canada Geese and Mallards were several Cackling Geese, a Ring-necked Duck, and a number of Common Mergansers. A Northern Harrier was seen hunting the fields west of L.Law. Only a Great Blue Heron was of interest at Dusaf Pond. Sleeping on some of the remaining ice at Main Ring Lake was a Snow Goose (Blue). Also found there were more Cackling Geese, a Gadwall, some American Black Duck and lots of Common Mergansers (95 counted by Glenn). A Bald Eagle was spotted while filling the Ed Center Feeders and was later found patrolling Swan Lake then perched along its western shore. The Northern Shrike was again found along the southern edge of the Main Injector area with several Northern Flickers nearby. Another large group of Common Mergansers and several Common Goldeneye were found on Casey's Pond. The Roads and Grounds feeders were more active than the empty Ed Center Feeders. Most of the expected winter birds were found here in addition to a White-throated Sparrow. Finally, a striking male Northern Harrier was observed hunting along the east side of South Eola Road. Dave

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A very late afternoon, early evening trip to the lab today was a bust. Primarily, it was an owling trip looking for both Short-eared Owls and Screech Owls. I missed on both species. I wouldn't even mention it but this is, after all, a diary and we must report both the good and the bad. Dave

Sunday, December 7, 2014

This morning was cloudy and mild with the moderate wind being the only downside. Aside from Canada Geese and Mallards, Lake Law only had several Common Mergansers and American Crows (on the ice). The Main Injector Moat had more Common Mergansers and several Common Goldeneye. We fared much better in the remainder of the Injector area by finding a pair of interacting Red-tailed Hawks, a Northern Harrier (it buzzed the hawks after they perched), an American Kestrel, a Northern Shrike and several Pine Siskins. Of the birds at the Ed Center Feeders only a Hairy Woodpecker was of interest while the Roads and Grounds Feeders had several more Pine Siskins. Interestingly, a pair of American Black Ducks were going through the motions of mating at Casey's Pond. A walk along Kress Creek produced about 10 American Black Ducks, a Cooper's Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, another late Ruby-crowned Kinglet (I had several on Nov, 26; this bird tied our latest sighting), several American Robins and several Red-winged Blackbirds. Also interesting, we found abnormally large numbers of Mourning Doves (in flocks) at several locations throughout the morning. Dave

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Although the temps were still below the average, it was quite a pleasant morning for birding at the Lab. The mostly sunny skies early and mild winds had a lot to do with it. Lake Law had more open water than last week, but besides the Canada Geese and Mallards there was only one male Common Goldeneye. The Garden Club was dead except for a Blue Jay, a Horned Lark (field on north side), and several Northern Cardinals. Only a couple Common Mergansers were added at Main Ring Lake. The Main Injector Moats added more Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers. I walked around five different woodlots (including the Big Woods) and could find small numbers of the typical winter residents including Red-tailed Hawks (edges of woods), Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and a Great Horned Owl. Marcia and Gail fared much better first with two immature Bald Eagles and a Cooper's Hawk in the Main Injector area. Then in the Main Ring they found a Northern Harrier, American Kestrel and American Crow. There was also a second American Kestrel at the Bison Fields. Dave

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