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December, 2011 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Author: Peter Kasper

November January
Dec 24Dec 17Dec 9Dec 4Dec 1

Saturday, December 24

Peter had a "bunch" of Pine Siskins at the Ed Center Feeders today. Eastern Bluebird. Dave

Saturday, December 17

Today was the annual Fermi Circle Christmas Bird Count. The weather conditions were the best in years with temps in the mid thirties and a light snow tailing off as the daylight portion of the count began. Less than an inch of snow covered the grounds while most ponds and lakes had mostly open waters. These open waters brought the numbers of Canada Geese back up (2308) from last year's low (170). Other waterfowl seen were Cackling Geese(15), Greater White-fronted Geese(6), American Black Ducks(12), Mallards(290), Common Goldeneyes(150), Common Mergansers(118) and a Ring-necked Duck (1). Other notable sightings due to above or below average numbers or just because they are uncommon are listed below. American Kestrels still remain scarce with only one sighting. Coyotes still keep the Ring-necked Pheasants in check with only one sighting. The following species had numbers around fifty percent or more above previous averages: Great Blue Heron(12), Northern Harrier(9), Sharp-shinned Hawk(5), Northern Shrike(4), Horned Lark(49), Black-capped Chickadee(122), White-breasted Nuthatch(24), Eastern Bluebird(16), American Tree Sparrow(597), Dark-eyed Junco(272), Northern Cardinal(69), Rusty Blackbird(3), Brown-headed Cowbird(7), and Pine Siskin(1). One of the most notable low counts was the American Robin(2). Some other notable species were Hermit Thrush (1), Fox Sparrow(1), and Swamp Sparrow(2). A first CBC sighting for the lab was a Brewer's Blackbird. Finally, we had four owl species for the count. Two Eastern Screech-Owls responded in the early morning snow. Great Horned Owls(3) were hard to come by throughout the day. Happily, Short-eared Owl(3) returned after being missing for several Count years. One of the bird(s) of the Count was a pair of Barred Owls(2) called in with a Screech-Owl call. Dave

Friday, December 9

Today passerines were quite sparse at Fermi, while water birds were reasonably represented. Common Mergansers were seen on both Lake Law and Main Ring Lake. Other birds seen on Main Ring Lake were Cackling Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Hooded Merganser and American Coots. Great Blue Herons were found on Lake Law, Main Ring Lake and Dusaf Pond. Only American Tree Sparrows were seen in the Garden Club, probably due to the cold winds blowing. Several waves of Sandhill Cranes flew over the Lab during the early afternoon. Finally, an American Kestrel was still in the osprey nest area, while a Northern Harrier was hunting inside the Main Ring. Dave

Sunday, December 4

Again this morning the waterfowl still remained elusive; even the geese were in lower numbers than in recent visits. The only ducks seen were several Hooded Mergansers in Lake Law, a pair of Northern Shovelers in Dusaf Lake and an American Black Duck inside the Ring Area. The Swenson Road area produced an American Kestrel, Northern Harrier and Great Horned Owl. Another American Kestrel was in its usual area near the Osprey nest. The north roads area had several Red-winged Blackbirds and the bird of the day a Short-eared Owl. The owl dropped down in medium height grass about fifteen feet from the road, possibly hunting, and gave us fantastic views. Oh where, oh where was my camera. Dave

Thursday, December 1

Ice was present on all Fermi bodies of water this morning; from fully covered Nepese marsh to Lake Law which only had perimeter ice. Associated with a small flock of Canada Geese on Lake Law were a Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser and several Northern Shovelers. The Garden Club contained just some typical year round residents along with good numbers of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. The Buffalo fields had thirty or more Greater White-fronted Geese dispersed among a large flock of Canada Geese. A nice family of at least five Coyotes was found in the Swenson Road area. Main Ring Lake had about ten Hooded Mergansers, a Common Merganser and a pair of American Black Ducks. Also in the area were a Northern Harrier and Horned Lark. A Hairy Woodpecker and Great Horned Owl were found in both the East and West Main Ring Woods. In addition, Eastern Bluebirds were heard flying over the woods. A couple of American Kestrels are still being seen in the general area of the Osprey nest. A Belted Kingfisher was spotted perched along the back of Swan Lake and finally a third Great Horned Owl was flushed in the Big Woods. Dave

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