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March, 2016 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The consistent 10-15 mph winds did have some affect on the bird activity, but not extensively. Except for the activity of some of the common early breeders ( American Robins, Northern Cardinals and Red-winged Blackbirds), there was not much activity in the Sparrow Hedge area. Sparrow numbers were greatly diminished from recent visits. Found in the Hedge/Lakes region were Song Sparrows, a few Swamp Sparrow and American Tree Sparrows. Fox Sparrows were added in Main Ring Woods. The expected Northern Shovelers (about 200) and Green-winged Teal were on A.E. Sea, while a half dozen Common Mergansers were on the Sea of Evanescence. Other waterfowl found were about 20 each Gadwall and Ruddy Ducks on Main Ring Lake and Wood Ducks (in several wet woodlots). Also found were a Pied-billed Grebe and an American Coot (yes, just one). New for the year were a Greater Yellowlegs and a Pectoral Sandpiper in the Horse Paddock. One of the Ospreys was on Nest 1 while its mate was about 20 yards away having lunch. Other birds found during the morning were Turkey Vultures (2), Sandhill Cranes, several Wilson's Snipe, Great Horned Owls (3), a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers (Owl's Nest Woods), Northern Flickers (a noticeable increase in numbers), Eastern Phoebes and Tree Swallows (over Lake Law). Dave

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I was all alone this morning which was a pity since it would have been nice to have someone else see the juvenile Northern Goshawk that I found by Dusaf Pond. Also by the pond were the first Blue-winged Teal of the year. Given the time of year, there was surprisingly little diversity among the waterfowl; Northern Shovelers were the most abundant followed by Green-winged Teal. There was a flock of Ruddy Ducks on main-ring lake and Mallards were scattered about the site but the only others that I found were a two pairs of Wood Ducks, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, and a lone female Ring-necked Duck. The only other noteworthy bird was an Osprey near nest 1. It was presumably one the original adult breeders and the same bird that was seen last Thursday. Peter K.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thankfully, the predicted rain never occurred this morning. The moderate wind at the start did pickup and had some affect on the birds. Waterfowl showed a little more variety than over the last couple of weeks, starting with a group of about 50 Lesser Scaup on Lake Law with a few Ring-necked Ducks thrown in. On my return from the Sparrow Hedge, about 50 more Ring-necked Ducks joined the group. They were now close enough to get good views with the scope. I was then able to pick out a couple of Greater Scaup (first of the year) in the group. Other waterfowl of note were Wood Ducks (pair), Gadwall (40 plus), Northern Shovelers (A.E. Sea), Green-winged Teal (A.E. Sea), Hooded Mergansers (pair), Common Mergansers (pair) and Ruddy Ducks. The overall number of sparrows was less than that of last week. The number of Song Sparrows, though less than last week, were now above that of the American Tree Sparrows. Also found were Swamp Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows and a good number of playful Dark-eyed Juncos in the Big woods. Also in the Big Woods were several singing Eastern Phoebes. Also found were a Northern Harrier, Great Horned Owls (3), a Hairy Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebirds. Many of these same birds were found by Marcia and Gail during their monitoring session today. In addition, they found a Pied-billed Grebe, Turkey Vultures, a Cooper's Hawk and 50 American Coots, possibly the same group of coots hanging around since last week. Finally, Ryan reported flushing American Woodcocks (first of the year) during this week's burns. Dave

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The morning was chilly early with a mild wind which gained some strength throughout the morning. Sparrow activity was not up to what it was Friday. There were still good numbers of Song Sparrows, only a few Swamp Sparrows and a White-crowned Sparrow worthy of mention. There were still only a small number of waterfowl including Gadwall, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Common Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks. The North Roads area provided small numbers of Horned Larks and a group of over 30 Sandhill Cranes feeding in a corn field - unfortunately still no white ones. The bird(s) of the day was an intimate pair of Trumpeter Swans on Main Ring Lake. At one point one of the swans took off making a large circle, returning right next to the other. Several minutes later both took off, flew the length of the lake and landed together on the far end. Dave

Friday, March 18, 2016

The morning started cool, but at least the strong winds of the past two days showed some moderation. A rather uneventful walk in the Sparrow Hedge/Lakes region did produce a good number of sparrows although the diversity was not impressive. American Tree Sparrows still remain the most abundant species, but Song Sparrows were a close second. Several Swamp Sparrows and Fox Sparrows were also found along with a couple Dark-eyed Juncos. Later, inside Main Ring Woods, many more Fox Sparrows (20-30) were found. Only several small groups of Northern Shovelers (totaling about 30) were found on A.E. Sea. In the "not good news category", a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds were also huddled together on a branch in the area. Other birds found around the Lab were Gadwall, Ruddy Ducks (25-Main Ring Lake), a Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Harriers (at least 2), an American Kestrel, American Coot (probably same group the girls had Wed.), Great Horned Owls (3), Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows (3), Eastern Bluebirds and a male Eastern Towhee (1st of year). Dave

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Despite the strong winds and mighty gusts, Marcia and Gail were in the Lab doing much of their typical bird survey. Waterfowl sightings still remain poor. They were only able to find Bufflehead (6), Common Goldeneye (1) and Common Mergansers (8) in the area of the Rings. In addition, they relocated the winter resident Pied-billed Grebe and the largest number of American Coots to date (2016) at fifty. They did manage to find the first Eastern Phoebe of the year in Betz Prairie, which is right on time. That's pretty amazing with the winds that were blowing in this open area. Other birds of note were Eastern Meadowlarks and Common Grackles. Dave

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The weather was mild but wet which eliminated much of the field (out of the car) birding. This put the pressure on waterfowl birding but, as the rest of the week had shown, this was poor. The only waterfowl found were Canada Geese, a Wood Duck, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks - worst showing of the week. There were lots of blackbirds in the north end of the Lab mostly consisting of European Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds with an increased percentage of female red-wings evident. Also included were Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds and several Rusty Blackbirds. The only other birds worth mentioning were an American Coot, a Wilson's Snipe (interestingly only the first of the year) and Horned Larks. Dave

Friday, March 11, 2016

It was another beautiful morning at the Lab with sunny skies, mild temps (warming throughout the morning) and almost no wind. Waterfowl continue to be a disappointment in both quantity and variety of birds. I was quite disappointed with my results after sampling most of the major bodies of water this morning. Sparrows on the other hand are on the increase. Beyond the expected winter residents of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, I found a very early singing Chipping Sparrow, Fox Sparrows, many Song Sparrows (over 100), Swamp Sparrows and a White-crowned Sparrow. An extensive walk through the Center of the Ring produced only my first garter snake of the year. A couple more firsts for the year were a Turkey Vulture and Tree Swallow (Buffalo Pasture fence), both right on schedule. Starting about 10:30 a.m., Sandhill Cranes were continuously heard flying overhead until I left after the noon hour. A female American Kestrel was again on the North Eola nest box. Other birds found during the morning were a Great Horned Owl, a Brown Creeper, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Meadowlarks (now becoming well established) and a Rusty Blackbird. Dave

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Marcia and Gail were in the Lab this morning with not much to report in the way of waterfowl, but some other water birds did impress. Starting out with the bird(s) of the day, four Horned Grebes in Main Ring Lake. Also found were a Pied-billed Grebe and American Coots. Finally, the first multiple Great Blue Herons (3) of the year were found in the Ring areas. It appears sparrows are starting to move in. They found a Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrows (19) and White-throated Sparrows (2). Other birds of interest were Northern Harriers (3), an American Kestrel (female on North Eola nest box), several Killdeer, American Crows (3-in Main Ring) and Eastern Meadowlarks (5). Dave

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Despite the predicted warmer weather for today, the morning was a little brutal. Strong winds and the early cooler temps made for uncomfortable conditions, especially with a lighter jacket. It appeared that the wind did have a negative effect on most birds in its path. Waterfowl still remain the key target, though the numbers and variety have not been up to par. Found were Greater White-fronted Geese (heard flying over Big Woods), Canada Geese (small numbers), Gadwall, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, a Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, a Lesser Scaup (only 1), Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks. We had the fourth Bald Eagle sighting in a week (3-Adt., 1-Juv). Other birds of interest for the morning were an American Kestrel, a Great Horned Owl (on a new nest), Northern Flickers, Brown Creepers and Song Sparrows. Dave

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Despite the cold start to the morning and the occasional snow showers, it was quite a pleasant morning for birding the Lab. A.E. Sea was barren of waterfowl, being mostly ice or slush covered. Lake Law was mostly open and had a fair number of waterfowl. I had all the same waterfowl as the girls did yesterday, and additionally, several Lesser Scaup and several Wood Ducks (in a small remote pond). Also of note was the largest number of Ring-necked Ducks (over 100) to date (for 2016) in the Lab. After I heard the girls had an Eastern Meadowlark yesterday I figured I could get a year bird. All morning I kept alert for meadowlarks in the usual locations but had no luck. On my way out, in the early afternoon, I did finally find 8 to 10 singing and flying around North Eola Road. Other birds found for the morning were an American Kestrel, Ring- necked Pheasant, Great Horned Owls (3), Hairy Woodpeckers, a Song Sparrow, a Rusty Blackbird (first of the year), and a Common Grackle. Dave

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Though it was cold, the lack of wind and bright sun made for pleasurable birding for Marcia and Gail this morning. Many of the same waterfowl of recent trips were found in the Main and Injector Ring areas. Included were Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser and Ruddy Duck. It appears the Pied-billed Grebe has returned after a several -week absence. Also, several American Coots were found. Other birds of interest found during the morning were a Bald Eagle (full adult), Northern Flickers, Horned Larks, a White-throated Sparrow and an Eastern Meadowlark. Dave

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