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July, 2016 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Sunday, July 31, 2016

It was an exceptional morning for birding in the Lab with cool (for the season) temps, little to no winds and partly cloudy skies. The mosquitoes are still almost a non-factor in most locations. The 3 Osprey chicks in Nest 2 were up and pacing the nest platform, looking to be on the brink of fledging. Three of the Nest 1 Osprey (could not confirm their ages) were in their nest area. Quite obvious was the number of robins, the majority of which were juveniles, throughout the Lab. Most were found foraging in freshly mowed fields; also many of the fuddles contained a fair number searching for food. Most of the area fuddles were barren of shorebirds, but we did manage to find one containing several each of Killdeer, Solitary Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a Spotted Sandpiper. Sedge Wrens were still singing in multiple grassland locations. Also heard were a couple each of Henslow's Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks. Other birds of note for the morning were a Pied-billed Grebe (first in over a month), American Kestrels, Sandhill Cranes (a pair again in the village), Willow Flycatchers (singing and chipping), a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Baltimore Orioles. Dave

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Today was warm again but not unbearable; even the mosquitoes were not as bad as they were several weeks ago. There is still no shorebird habitat at A.E. Sea due to the high water, but Great Egrets (32) were still foraging along the shores. Sandhill Cranes are still around the Village and the East Entrance. One of the guards said they were becoming a nuisance to traffic and occasionally standing in the middle of the road. Osprey Nest 2 was quite crowded and active with the three chicks getting large and roaming the nest. They were feeding while one of the adults watched from the edge of the platform. At times the adult and one of the chicks would make adjustments to the nest, moving the branches around. These chicks should be fledging any time now. Osprey Nest 1 was barren although there was one adult and one juvenile close by. In the Osprey Nest 3 area one of the adults was perched on the perch above the nest platform. As expected they had given up on the reconstruction of last year's nest since there was not enough support for it. Of the several fuddles on the north side of the Lab, only three shorebirds were found - one Spotted Sandpiper and two Solitary Sandpipers. A quite large blackbird flock was also found in the area (mostly Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings). About the only grassland bird singing in multiple locations were Sedge Wrens. Some of the other birds found were a Green Heron, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Willow Flycatchers, Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and a Baltimore Oriole. Marcia and Gail were also in the Lab this morning with most of the same results. They did have one of the pairs of Sandhill Cranes in the Village as they passed by. They also spotted, what I think were, the other 2 Ospreys (1 adult and 1 juvenile) from Nest 1 near the middle of the Main Ring. Additional highlights of their morning were a Wood Duck, Osprey (probably all 4 Nest 1 birds), Marsh Wrens, Indigo Buntings and an Eastern Meadowlark. Dave

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It was very warm and muggy to start and the heat increased throughout the morning. On the way into the Lab, at the East Entrance, 2 pairs of Sandhill Cranes were found one inside and one outside the Lab. The rains of yesterday raised the level of A.E. Sea enough to engulf all shorebird habitat. A Caspian Tern was patrolling the sea while Great Egrets (about 30) and Great Blue Herons (about 12) waded the west shore. An adult Bald Eagle was perched in a tree at the south end of the sea. All three chicks and both parent Ospreys were found at Nest 2. At least one of the juvenile Ospreys from Nest 1 fledged and was on the power pole next to the nest. Later, both juveniles were found on the nest. Finally, one of the Nest 3 Osprey was seen carrying nest materials, then surprisingly landed on the power pole which held their original nest from last year. One of the cross members on this pole was removed, to greatly reduce the chance of the nest being rebuilt. Although several sticks are in place on the pole, there is not enough space for a stable nest. Additional birds found included a Blue-winged Teal, Green Herons (3), American Kestrels, Willow Flycatchers (several singing), a Cliff Swallow, Sedge Wrens (singing), Savannah Sparrows and a Dickcissel (singing). Dave

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Having been away for over a week I will just consolidate the reports I received during my absence. Marcia and Gail braved the heat twice. The highlights of their July 13th trip were Ospreys (3), a Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrels (3 - sitting together on a wire), Sandhill Cranes (2 pairs), a Spotted Sandpiper, a Caspian Tern, Willow Flycatchers (3), Sedge Wrens (2), Cedar Waxwings (2), a Chipping Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlarks (4). On their second trip, July 20th, the highlights were a Green Heron, Double Crested Cormorants (9), Osprey (4 at Nest 1, 2 immature and 2 adults, 1 at the Nest 3 platform), Red-tailed Hawks (5 - one of which was a begging young bird), Caspian Terns (3), American Kestrels (3), a Willow Flycatcher, a Sedge Wren (singing), Eastern Bluebirds (2), Indigo Buntings (5) and Eastern Meadowlarks (3). Last Sunday Peter and the crew had a fair number of shorebirds at A.E. Sea. Birds found there were Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and a Short-billed Sandpiper. Peter also reported Cliff Swallows and Bank Swallows over the Buffalo Wallow. Finally, Dave Shemanske reported both Nest 3 Ospreys atop the new nest platform that they rejected early in the season (but, hold that thought for the next post). Dave

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Seasonal weather conditions provided a reasonable morning for birding. A.E. Sea provided a few shorebirds in several different locations. Birds found there were Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, a Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpipers and, of course, several Killdeer. Other birds found in the Lakes-Sparrow Hedge area were a Hooded Merganser, a female Wood Duck with chicks, Green Herons (2), Caspian Terns (2), a Bell's Vireo and a Baltimore Oriole. We contacted all the typical summer flycatchers today including Eastern Wood-Pewees, Willow Flycatchers, an Eastern Phoebe, a Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbirds. Late in the breeding season this can be a challenge due to the reduced vocalizations of some of these birds. Some other birds of interest during the morning were an American Kestrel (hunting), a Warbling Vireo (singing), Horned Larks (flock of about 6), Savannah Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow. Ten of the Lab's eleven Ospreys were found with one of the chicks on Nest 1 now as large as its mother. Strangely, the one Nest 3 Osprey found today was standing on the nest platform that they had rejected earlier in the breeding season. Dave

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The conditions for birding today were mostly cloudy, very warm with only a slight breeze. The sun showed itself early which boosted the humidity to an uncomfortable level. The south end of A.E. Sea had a Solitary Sandpiper and several Least Sandpipers (4). The most interesting observation in the area was watching a Great Blue Heron delicately maneuver a 6-8" bullhead (sometimes holding it by one of its pectoral spines) into the required head-first position before swallowing. A Bell's Vireo was singing along the central path to the Sparrow Hedge. Other breeding indicators found in the area were a young Eastern Kingbird, a Common Yellowthroat carrying food and a large group of juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds. All 11 Ospreys were accounted for today. At Nest 2 an adult was watching the three chicks when the other adult flew in with a fish and the feeding frenzy began. At Nest 1, one adult, at the nest, watched the 2 chicks feeding themselves. (The chicks on Nest 1 are larger than those on Nest 2.) The other adult was two power poles away. Finally, one Nest 3 adult was again to the side of the nest with the other on the next power pole down. The Sandhill Crane pair on the north side stepped out of a cornfield, crossed the road, then began foraging in a bean field. Also found on the north side were a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers (11), a couple of Spotted Sandpipers and a number of Killdeer including an adult with a juvenile. A second pair of Sandhill Cranes were found on the far south end of the Lab foraging in a bean field fuddle. A few birds missed on Monday were found including an Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Baltimore Oriole. Dave

Monday, July 4, 2016

This morning the 2016 Grassland Breeding Bird Survey was completed with a post-breeding count. The results were not good since each of the 12 points except 1 were below, some well below, the 12 year average. The birds of interest found at the survey points included Sedge Wrens (11), Henslow's Sparrows (8), Dickcissels (4), Bobolinks (12) and Eastern Meadowlarks (9). The weather conditions were very good being cool to warm and cloudy with mild winds. Nine of the lab's eleven Ospreys were found including all five chicks. Other birds of interest found during the morning were a Cooper's Hawk, an American Kestrel, a Spotted Sandpiper, a Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers (4), Bell's Vireos (2), a Horned Lark, Sedge Wrens (6), Cedar Waxwings (2), a Vesper Sparrow, a Henslow's Sparrow, a Swamp Sparrow, Dickcissels (2), and an Eastern Meadowlark. Dave

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Another, out of the ordinary, comfortable morning greeted us today with cool temps, mild winds and partly sunny skies. A trip through the Sparrow Hedge area provided some interesting finds. First, the fall migration has begun with the sighting of about a half dozen Least Sandpipers at the south end of A. E. Sea. Also in that area, at the Sea of Evanescence, there were at least 38 Great Egrets and over 18 Great Blue Herons. We also heard, then spotted, a pair of Sandhill Cranes flying very low over A.E. Sea from north to south (this may be the pair we've been spotting on the north end of the Lab recently). We later heard them south of the Sea of Evanescence. Denis heard a third crane. The Sparrow Hedge area also produced Singing Bell's Vireos (2) and at least one Caspian Tern (we did see a tern over all three lakes during our walk). All five Osprey chicks were accounted for this morning. The west side of the Lab did provide some Green Herons (2), Cedar Waxwings and a singing Swamp Sparrow. Dave

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