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February, 2015 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Extremely cold conditions this morning (about 20 deg below normal) limited our birding activity. Luckily the wind was not at the gale forces of yesterday. The "East Side" Northern Shrike was again in the area of Owl's Nest Woods, but the "West Side" bird was not found in the Main Injector Area. Main Ring Lake's ice was once again zipped up leaving no waterfowl habitat. There was a nice mix, though small, of divers on the Main Injector Moat including two Canvasbacks, about fifteen Redheads, and a few each Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers. Both groups of feeders again had the typical mix of winter birds. In addition, the Roads and Grounds feeders had four White-throated Sparrows (a record count for the year). Leaving these feeders we found an American Kestrel across from the Fire Station. We noted that the Horned Larks, in many instances, are breaking up into smaller groups and, in many cases, starting to pair up. Hopefully, this is a sign of approaching spring-like conditions. Denis' crew had a Rough-legged Hawk again in the Main Ring and a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the pines near Roads and Grounds. They also found the first Wilson's Snipe of the year and actually the first for the winter. Actually, Marcia and Gail came up with the first Canvasbacks on Thursday along with 20 Redheads during their monitoring session. Dave

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Weather conditions were quite nice this morning. It was overcast with normal temps and moderate winds that did not have much negative effect. The highlight of the morning was the confirmation of two Northern Shrikes in the Lab. The first was the Lakes Region one seen just south of Lake Law. Later the second was found north of the Main Injector area. We thought there were two but could never find both in the same day. Main Ring Lake, though having a larger open area, only had a half dozen Common Mergansers within. A couple of small flocks (less than 20 each) of Horned Larks were again found along the Ring and Injector roads. The Main Injector Moat produced 17 Redheads in a group. The Great Horned Owl nest inside the Ring is looking good with the female sitting higher due to the warmer weather. The male was again nearby. A third Great Horned Owl was found in another nearby woodlot. Most woodlots visited were very quiet except for woodpeckers, most being Red-bellied Woodpeckers, with several Downy Woodpeckers and two Hairy Woodpeckers. The Ed Center Feeders still had seed and were quite active with the typical winter feeder birds. The only highlights were a White-throated Sparrow and a Fox Sparrow. Martin from Roads and Grounds also reported an adult Bald Eagle inside the Main Ring. Dave

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It was quite a good morning for birding today with good weather (average temps, cloudy skies and minimal winds) and some good birds. Starting at Main Ring Lake, which opened with the current thaw, we found 5 Greater White-fronted Geese, about 400 Common Goldeneye, 2 male Hooded Mergansers and about 20 Common Mergansers. There was also an immature Northern Harrier hunting the area west of the lake. The Main Injector moat had a dozen Redheads and an American Coot. Bulrush Pond produced a Great Blue Heron and a pair of copulating American Black Ducks. Several flocks of twenty or more Horned Larks were found feeding along the roads at various locations. Within several minutes of each other, we found both an immature Bald Eagle and a Rough-legged Hawk inside the Main Ring. Other birds of interest were a Northern Shrike (Main Injector area), an American Crow, American Robins and a White-throated Sparrow (feeders). Dave

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An extremely cold start to the morning combined with the over 17 inches of snow cover made for tough birding. Main Ring Lake was completely sealed off and birdless. The Main Injector Moats were sparsely populated with small numbers of Canada Geese, Mallards, Common Goldeneye and Common Mergansers but there was also several Redheads and a American Coot (both new for the year). Again, the empty Ed Center Feeders were populated immediately after being filled. The clientele were the expected Mourning Doves, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals and a White-throated Sparrow. Walking in the woods was a chore but very pretty. The only highlights were a Great Horned Owl and a Hairy Woodpecker. There were quite a few flocks of birds feeding along the roads containing mostly American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. One flock also included about 25 Horned Larks. Finally, last evening a couple of X-C Ski runs around the northeast quadrant of the Main Ring Grassland did not produce the hoped for Short-eared Owl but two beautiful male Northern Harriers were found. Dave

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Conditions early this morning were very bad with 6-8 inches of snow (and it only got worse as time wore on). It was hard to tell the exact amount because of all the blowing. In addition, many of the roads in the Lab were not plowed making driving tedious even with my four wheel drive. Birding was just as bad as the weather. There were several hundred Canada Geese in Main Ring Lake. There could have been other species mixed in but the limited visibility eliminated any chance to separate them in the compact group they formed around the open water. Several Common Goldeneye were swimming in the open water. Common Mergansers and Mallards were added in the Main Injector Moats. That's it for my morning. Denis' class added an American Kestrel. Like he said he could not figure out why the kestrel would be out in those conditions. Finally, last night I was inside the Main Ring hoping to view the Short-eared Owl found earlier in the week. The best I could come up with was a Northern Harrier. Also, there were 4-5 hundred Common Goldeneye on Main Ring Lake making courtship calls and displays. Dave

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