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December, 2015 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Denis was in the Lab this morning and had an adult Bald Eagle chasing all the waterfowl in its path off the lakes. Along Main Ring Road he found a couple of Snow Buntings. Later, along Wilson Road, he found another 30 Snow Buntings in a flock along with several flocks of Horned Larks. His bird of the day was a Horned Grebe (first ever sighting for the three winter months in the Lab) in the Main Ring Moat. Later in the afternoon Glenn was in and also had some interesting finds. Water fowl included a Northern Pintail, an American Wigeon and, I assume, a Lesser Scaup. As far as raptors go he had an immature Bald Eagle, 4 Northern Harriers and 2 Short-eared Owls. Along Wilson Road he also had Snow Buntings (26), Horned Larks (29) and added Lapland Longspurs (over 30). Denis thought he had some but they flew before confirmation. Other birds Glenn found were a Pied-billed Grebe, a Brown Creeper, a White-throated Sparrow and a White-crowned Sparrow. Dave

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The morning's conditions were quite nice for the season being cloudy, with moderate winds and a little above average temps. We started out the morning on our way to a five goose morning with Canada Geese (the Lab was loaded with these), several Cackling Geese and a couple of Ross' Geese on Lake Law. We completed the fivesome later in the morning with both a good number of Greater White-fronted Geese and a couple of Snow Geese (white). Other waterfowl included American Black Ducks, Common Goldeneyes and a Common Merganser. An American Coot rounded out the water birds. Raptors were highlighted with an immature Bald Eagle. Also found were Northern Harriers (2-3) and American Kestrels (3). A large flock of blackbirds included mostly European Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds with several Brown-headed Cowbirds (another CBC miss). A Northern Flicker was in the same area along the North Roads. Finally, a good sized mixed flock of Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs included one Snow Bunting. headed Cowbirds (another CBC miss). A Northern Flicker was in the same area along the North Roads. Finally, a good sized mixed flock of Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs included one Snow Bunting. Dave

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Glenn hit upon several really nice birds this morning. Here are the best birds for the morning. The waterfowl highlight was a Canvasback on Lake Law. Other waterfowl found were a Cackling Goose, American Black Ducks (3), Common Goldeneye (3) and Common Mergansers (10). He came up with Lapland Longspurs(2) which was about the only noticeable miss from the CBC a few days earlier. Other birds of interest were a Great Blue Heron, Long-eared Owls, a Northern Shrike, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creepers (3), Eastern Bluebirds (2), and a Red-winged Blackbird. Dave

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Except for the constant winds, we had a near perfect day for the 2015 Christmas Bird Count. It was sunny most of the day with temps a little below freezing. We blew away the old record for the Lab during a CBC with 62 species (the old record was 55 in 1998). I'll list just the highlights for the day of which there were many. Waterfowl found were Greater White-fronted Geese (18), Snow Geese (2), Cackling Geese (5), Wood Duck (1), Northern Shoveler (1) and Green-winged Teal (2). There was also a Pied-billed Grebe (1) and American Coots (2) found. We did fairly well with raptors finding Northern Harriers (6), a Sharp-shinned Hawk (1), a Cooper's Hawk (1), American Kestrels (5) and a Peregrine Falcon (1). There were still a dozen Sandhill Cranes (12) spotted heading south. A Wilson's Snipe (1) was in an open ditch with running water. Although we again missed a Screech-Owl ,we did well with others including Great Horned Owls (9), Long-eared Owls (4) and a Short-eared Owl (1). A couple of recent irregular species were found, namely Red-breasted Nuthatches (2) and Brown Creepers (2). Sparrow highlights were a Savannah Sparrow (1), Swamp Sparrows (7), White-throated Sparrows (4) and White-Crowned Sparrows (5). Finally, blackbirds and relations were represented by Red-winged Blackbirds (19), Eastern Meadowlarks (7), Rusty Blackbirds (2) and Common Grackles (2). About the only expected missed species was Gadwall. This was expected because they had been quite regular of late. Some other found birds were in quite low numbers including Cooper's Hawk (only 1), Horned Lark (only 2), Cedar Waxwing (only 1) and Song Sparrow (only 9). Dave

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Another late afternoon/evening trip to the Lab was not too productive, not surprising with the winds at 20 mph and gusts above that. There were about 75 Canada Geese on DUSAF with a good number of these being intermediates. One or two Cackling Geese were also found. A couple of Pied-billed Grebes were found, one on the Main Injector Moat and the other on Main Ring Lake. The waterfowl were just starting to populate Main Ring Lake for their overnight stay when I passed by. Found here were Common Goldeneye (25 or more), Hooded Mergansers (about 15) and Common Mergansers (3 females). There were only a few Canada Geese on the lake, but many more started arriving in earnest as I was leaving the area. The highlight of the evening was finding 2 (or more) Short-eared Owls on the east side of North Eola Road. It was quite dark when I finally spotted them and could only confirm two. Gail was out just a little earlier than me and her sightings were also affected by the strong winds. She did come up with a couple good birds starting with a Brown Creeper by the feeders. Next she had 3 Sandhill Cranes in the fields northeast of the Wilson St and Eola Rd intersection. She reported no Kestrels today, which is one of the only times recently the girls did not have one in the central part of the Lab. Dave

Sunday, December 13, 2015

With the temps well above normal, the drizzly conditions did not bother us too much. Minimal wind was also a factor in our favor. This said, there is not much to report. Our only sparrows were American Tree Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos. Waterfowl found, mostly on Main Ring Lake, included Greater White-fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Gadwall (8-10), Mallards and Northern Shovelers. Surprisingly there were no divers to be found. We had a Hairy Woodpecker driving around the Ring, Horned Larks in the North Fields and a couple of Northern Harriers (1-Main Ring and 1-North Roads area). The highlight (mainly due to the time of the year) was a mixed flock of blackbirds (over 100) in the North Roads area. Included in this flock were good numbers of both Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds, European Starlings and one or two Common Grackles. What makes this significant is that both the cowbird and grackle were needed for the second week of Dec. on Peter's Site List. Dave

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Another late afternoon/evening trip to the Lab was not too productive until the sun was just about down. Checking mostly along Eola Road and in the Betz Prairie area did not produce any Short-eared Owls, but a flock of 14 Greater White-fronted Geese flying south just east of North Eola Road were seen. There were a lot of geese moving about as darkness fell. Main Ring Lake was collecting many of these birds, mostly Canada Geese, but there were several Cackling Geese mixed in. Several divers were also in MRL including Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and Hooded Mergansers. It was getting dark so birds could not be counted, but there appeared to be over 50 birds. At least two of these were Gadwall. The highlight of the evening was finding an Eastern Screech-Owl, especially since we have missed it on the last two Christmas Bird Counts. Ever since Barred Owls took up residence around the Lab the screech-owls have been hard to come by. Dave

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Marcia and Gail were out this morning having great weather with sunny skies, mild temps (for the season) and calm winds. They are still finding American Kestrels near the center of the Lab with three on this trip. Other birds of note were a Great Blue Heron, two American Crows, two Eastern Bluebirds and a White-throated Sparrow. The lakes in this area are attracting more divers including Common Goldeneye (3), Hooded Mergansers (5) and Common Mergansers (4). Dave

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Again, above average weather conditions provided a pleasant morning for birding in the Lab. Lots of Canada Geese were on A.E. Sea. Also found in the Lakes Region were Gadwall and Northern Shovelers. Flyovers in this area were Lesser Scaup (4) and Greater White-fronted Geese (8). Found elsewhere were Cackling Geese (Buffalo Fields) and Hooded Mergansers (pair on Main Ring Lake). Once again the Sparrow Hedge had the most activity in the Lab but not quite as much as Thursday. Sparrow numbers were down with the only species found being American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows (considerably fewer than Thursday), White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. After not being seen for over a month, a Northern Shrike was found in the Sparrow Hedge area. Other birds of note in the area were an American Crow, Eastern Bluebirds, a Red-winged Blackbird and a male Purple Finch. Seen elsewhere were a Pied-billed Grebe, a couple of American Kestrels and both Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls. Denis also had Northern Shovelers during the week by A.E. Sea. Gail was in the Lab yesterday and added a Belted Kingfisher to the week's birds. She also had three American Kestrels in the Main Ring and Injector areas. Her sparrow if interest was a Fox Sparrow. Dave

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The morning started out cloudy and mild with light winds although the winds did pick up throughout the morning. There was absolutely nothing on Lake Law, but there were a good number of Canada Geese on the now flooded A.E. Sea. There were a couple of Cackling Geese mixed in these Canada's. There were no other significant waterfowl in the Lakes Region. There was much sparrow activity along A.E. Sea and at the southeast portion of the Sparrow Hedge area. Significant was the number of Swamp Sparrows; most I have ever seen on a day in December (mostly along the lake shore). Other sparrows found were American Tree Sparrows (most abundant species), Fox Sparrows (6-10), Song Sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Juncos and, the bird of the day, a very late Lincoln's Sparrow. There was also a brilliant, male Purple Finch mixed in one of the groups of sparrows. Most of the expected winter birds including woodpeckers, jays, chickadees, nuthatches, robins and cardinals were also quite active in this area. Other areas around the Lab, including the feeders, were not very active. Other birds found were Hooded Mergansers (pair in Main Ring Lake), Great Horned Owls (two different locations), Hairy Woodpeckers and American Crows. Dave

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