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December, 2017 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bitter cold and fairly strong winds kept us in the car most of our short trip to the Lab this morning. The only highlight bird of the morning was a Northern Harrier flying in the Main Ring. Whereas Thursday was a good day for Dark-eyed Juncos, today it was American Tree Sparrows. We had a flock of these approaching 100 in number. Other birds of mention were a pair of American Black Ducks, several each Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers, an American Coot and a Hairy Woodpecker. Ironically, after all the good birds we had this year to fill Peter's Bird List, our last bird of the year was a Rock Pigeon. Dave

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It was cold this morning, but slightly warmer than the two previous days. No significant finds were made throughout the morning. The small amount of open water throughout the Lab only produced Canada Geese (400-500), Mallards, Common Goldeneyes (10-15), Common Mergansers (8-10) and a single American Coot. Other birds of note were a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers, an American Kestrel, Red-breasted Nuthatches (it still remains a good season for this species), an American Robin and a Song Sparrow. It was a good morning for Dark- eyed Juncos, found in good numbers in several locations. Dave

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

During his workday travels around the Lab today, Peter came up with the first birds for the last week of 2017 (also, this is the first year of his seventh, five-week period of recording birds at Fermilab (31 years)). The birds he found during his short trips were American Black Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, an American Kestrel and a White-crowned Sparrow. Dave

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Weather conditions were quite pleasant this morning with temps in the mid 20's during most of our visit. There were more Canada Geese found at Main Ring Lake this morning then was found throughout the Lab during last week's Christmas Bird Count. Other waterfowl found here and at other open waters around the Lab were Cackling Geese, American Black Ducks, a Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers. We found another Adult Bald Eagle (most likely the one being seen recently around the Lab), this time perched in a large tree in the Main Ring. Other bird highlights found around the Lab were a Great Blue Heron, several Herring Gulls, a Northern Flicker, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Northern Shrike (in the Main Ring). Dave

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Today was the 2017 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) at Fermilab. The weather was fantastic being mostly sunny, with moderate winds and unbelievable temps (in the 40's most of the time). We ended up above the 20-year average of 49.55 birds with 56 bird species. This is now our second highest Fermilab CBC total; our highest total was 62 in 2015. Waterfowl were rather sparse due to the limited open water around the Lab. Those found were Greater White-fronted Geese (3), Cackling Geese (3), Canada Geese (1210- well below average), American Black Ducks (4), Mallards (93), a Redhead, Common Goldeneye (30-well below average) and Common Mergansers (126). Raptors were well represented with Bald Eagles (2, 1-adult and 1-immature), Northern Harriers (8), Sharp-shinned Hawks (2), Cooper's Hawks (3), Red-tailed Hawks (15), American Kestrels (3) and a Merlin (only the second Dec. sighting in the Lab). All the expected woodpeckers were found including Red-bellied Woodpeckers (24), Downy Woodpeckers (31), Hairy Woodpeckers (8) and Northern Flickers (1). The final significant group of the day were the sparrows which included American Tree Sparrows (178-below average), Fox Sparrows (2), Song Sparrows (15), Swamp Sparrows (8), White-throated Sparrows (8) and Dark-eyed Juncos (68-below average). Two of the most significant finds were a Northern Saw-whet Owl (heard later in the evening which was also a Lab first) and an Eastern Phoebe (which was a first CBC and December sighting in the Lab). There was also a considerable list of other significant finds including Great Blue Herons (7), a Wilson's Snipe, Great Horned Owls (8), a Short-eared Owl, a Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Shrike (first of the season), American Crows (10-highest number in 15 years), Red-breasted Nuthatches (26-highest CBC count in the Lab), Brown Creepers (3), Golden-crowned Kinglets, (2), Eastern Bluebirds (2), a Lapland Longspur, Red-winged Blackbirds (3), a Brown-headed Cowbird and Pine Siskins (12-well above average). There were several quiet periods during the day's count, but in the end the results were quite remarkable. Dave

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Glenn was in the Lab early this morning and had a fantastic run on Great Horned Owls, finding 7 in various locations around the Lab. In addition, he heard a Barred Owl calling at dawn. He completed the morning finding a number of other interesting birds including an American Black Duck, Common Goldeneyes, a Great Blue Heron, Horned Larks, Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Brown Creeper and a Swamp Sparrow. Dave

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A late afternoon/evening trip to the Lab today was to be sure the Ed Center Feeders were filled for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count and try for Screech-Owls. Well, the feeders are filled, but no Screech- Owls were found. However, everal good birds were found including Common Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, American Coots, a Bald Eagle (Immature fling over Main Ring Lake), a Northern Harrier and a Short-eared Owl (near the end of North Eola Road. Dave

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The temperature today started at about 20 deg. and slowly increased from there but only by a few degrees. The increase in the wind pretty much negated this effect. Absolutely nothing was found in the area of Lake Law (it was totally frozen over). But at the limited open water around the Lab we did fairly well with waterfowl including Canada Geese, American Black Ducks, Mallards, a Canvasback, a Redhead, Ring-necked Ducks (15) and Common Goldeneyes (over 12). Other highlights for the morning were a pair of Northern Harriers (flying in the Main Ring, then landing in a large tree), an American Kestrel, several Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Fox Sparrow (only bird of interest at the Ed. Center Feeders) and a Pine Siskin (deemed our bird of the day). Dave

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It was quite cold (about 20 deg) to start, with snow flurries and moderate winds which increased throughout the morning. Lake Law was almost totally frozen over. Several hundred Canada Geese were on the west shore (mostly on the ice) along with several Sandhill Cranes. While filling the Ed Center Feeders, I saw an immature Bald Eagle through the trees. Interestingly, Marcia and Gail also saw this bird as it flew toward the Main Ring. The only bird of interest at the feeders was a lone White-throated Sparrow. Sparrows found elsewhere were American Tree Sparrows (everywhere), Fox Sparrows (2-3 M.Ring), Song Sparrows (around 6) and Dark-eyed Juncos (everywhere). Other highlights were Common Goldeneyes, a Northern Harrier (in Main Ring), and Red-breasted Nuthatches. In addition to the Eagle, Marcia and Gail added another Common Goldeneye, Northern Shovelers (3) and an American Kestrel along South Eola Road. Dave

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It was a fantastic weather day in the Lab, though it started a little chilly (low 30's). Almost negligent winds and bright sunny skies rounded out the conditions. When we first pulled into the Red Barn Parking Lot we were greeted by an adult Bald Eagle, this time perched in the lone tall tree at the south end of the lot. It remained on the same perch as we passed it and set up our scopes on the Lake Law Berm. Lake Law did not provide much of interest other than a Hooded Merganser and some Sandhill Cranes (11-probably the same ones from Fri.). Another adult Bald Eagle was spotted, from the berm, perched in a large tree on the eastern edge of Owl's Nest Woods. A female Purple Finch was among a small number of the expected birds at the Ed Center Feeders. Another good find was a flock of Lapland Longspurs (25-30) in soy fields, at the north end of the Lab. Other highlights from around the Lab were several Northern Shovelers, a Common Goldeneye, a Great Blue Heron (perched in a tree in a soy field), an American Kestrel, Golden-crowned Kinglets (3) and Red-winged Blackbirds (4-females in some cattails along Swenson Rd.) On his way home Peter stopped at DUSAF Pond an added a Mute Swan and some Green-winged Teal. Dave

Friday, December 1, 2017

The weather was sunny with mild winds and temps in the high 20's. Temps soon moved into the 40's and finally into the mid 50's. Lake Law has regained most of the water that was drawn down early in the fall. Although most of the water was back, the birds were not. The only finds there were the expected Canada Geese, a small number of Mallards and Sandhill Cranes (11-again on the west shore). The highlight of this area was an adult Bald Eagle perched in the tallest tree on the west side of the lake. It remained there until my return from a circuit of the Sparrow Hedge area (over a hour later). Once the sun warmed the area, the sparrows and Northern Cardinals became quite active. The Sparrows found were American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows (8-10), Swamp Sparrows (about a dozen) and White-throated Sparrows(3). Dark-eyed Juncos were found elsewhere. Waterfowl found elsewhere were American Black Ducks (pr), Northern Shovelers (6-8), Green-winged Teal (10), Hooded Mergansers and Common Mergansers (2-pr). Other birds of interest around the Lab were American Coots (over 18), a Great Horned Owl, an American Kestrel (seen feeding on a small rodent), Horned Larks, Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and several very active Eastern Bluebirds. Dave

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