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July, 2012 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Author: Peter Kasper

June August
Jul 29Jul 10Jul 8Jul 5Jul 1

Sunday, July 29

Near perfect conditions for early morning birding greeted us today until it warmed up a little later. One of the ongoing highlights continues to be the shorebird habitat. The Sea of Evanescence being the hotspot with sightings of Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, and Short-billed Dowitchers. We figured there was easily more shorebirds here today than the total shorebirds seen over the last several years throughout the Lab. One of the strangest finds of the morning was a singing Henslow's Sparrow just east of A.E. Sea. Other highlights in the Sparrow Hedge area were a Pied-billed Grebe, Caspian Tern, Chimney Swift, singing Willow Flycatchers, Marsh Wrens, and a couple Baltimore Orioles. The Switchgrass plots were still alive with numerous singing Sedge Wrens and several singing Henslow's Sparrows. The inside of the Ring produced two new year birds, a singing Yellow-breasted Chat and a calling Red-headed Woodpecker. The most consistent bird of the summer, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, was again perched upon its favorite dead tree on the west side of the Big Woods. Finally, the two young Ospreys have fledged and were perched on a dead tree a couple of hundred yards from the nest with the parents nearby. Dave

Tuesday, July 10

Today produced another beautiful morning for birding at Fermi. Winds picked up late in the morning but not enough to affect the birds. The numbers of Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, and Killdeer remain about the same, with most of the birds at the Sea of Evanescence. Unfortunately this area is almost without water and without rain it will probably not be too effective as a shorebird habitat for long. Not to worry too much as A.E Sea should improve for the shorebirds. Among the few shorebirds on A.E. Sea were three Short-billed Dowitchers and a couple of Caspian Terns. Another Bald Eagle was in the A.E. Sea area; this one was an adult. This morning's post-breeding grassland survey showed an increase in Sedge Wrens, Henslow's Sparrows, and Dickcissels but a drop in Bobolinks. The most interesting aspect of the survey was the large concentration of grassland birds at one location inside the Main Ring. There was a large group of about 75 birds including mostly Dickcissels, Bobolinks, and Red-winged Blackbirds with a few Eastern Meadowlarks all apparently feeding on mature Compass Plant Seeds. Even though most of the northern portion of the Inner Ring had compass plants these birds were concentrated in just one small area. Great Horned Owls have been tough to locate after the nesting season but I did manage to locate one of the immature birds from nest one. Dave

Sunday, July 8

We were greeted with extremely pleasant conditions for this morning's birding, a welcome relief after our recent heat wave. The numbers of shorebirds has greatly increased but, the variety has remained the same. For example The Sea of Evanescense had about 12 Lesser Yellowlegs, about 50 Least Sandpipers, and whole lot of Killdeer. A new Bald Eagle, this was a 2nd year bird, was patrolling the Lakes area; we spotted it several times on our walk. Other birds of interest in the Hedge/Lakes area were a Baltimore Oriole, Bell's Vireo (still singing), Caspian Tern (three by A.E. Sea), and a couple of fly-by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The Big Woods gave up a Scarlet Tanager and the summer resident Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Dave

Thursday, July 5

Miserable, that best describes this morning's conditions at Fermi. With extremely high temperatures and humidity and little wind, luckily the birds were less affected than I was. Four Caspian Terns and a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs were found along A.E. Sea's shoreline. About a half dozen Sedge Wrens (this is their only location in the Lab) and several Henslow's Sparrows were singing in the Switchgrass plots. Henslow's Sparrows were also found along North Eola Rd, South Eola Rd, and Road B. Many of the grasslands still had good numbers of singing Dickcissels and small number of Eastern Meadowlarks. Only one Bobolink was seen, an immature flushed along North Eola Rd. An adult Cooper's Hawk was seen flying into the Garden Club nest area but no young hawks were seen or heard. The Female Osprey was again shielding the chicks with her outstretched wings. As last year, the presence of a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the favorite roosting tree of the Swenson Road Kestrel family signaled their movement from the nest area. I found a couple of American Kestrels in the North Roads area while Roads and Grounds found at least three earlier in the week. The question which family group are they from? The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still near its favorite perch on the west side of the Big Woods. Dave

Sunday, July 1

Hot, muggy, no wind and partly sunny; not the best of conditions for a morning of birding at the Lab. Still some interesting sightings were to be had, starting with the first shorebirds of the fall migration. Several Least Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs were found among growing numbers of both Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers on both A.E. Sea and the Sea of Evanescence. Some other birds of interest in the Lakes/Sparrow Hedge area were: a Black-crowned Night-Heron (landing along the Sea of Evanescence), a Ring-necked Pheasant (calling from west of Lake Law), a Caspian Tern (patrolling the lakes), a Bell's Vireo (singing in the western Hedge area) and a Bank Swallow (among the typical Tree, Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows). The grasslands become more quiet with each visit, but a highlight in the Switchgrass plots were several singing Sedge Wrens. Finally, the Cooper's Hawks have fledged their nest in the Garden Club but could be heard calling from a nearby tree. Dave

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