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March, 2012 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Author: Peter Kasper

February April
Mar 30Mar 28Mar 25Mar 21Mar 18Mar 16Mar 14Mar 11
Mar 9Mar 4Mar 1

Friday, March 30

An Osprey was reportedly seen on the nest near the Main Injector today by a Lab employee. Dave

Wednesday, March 28

I was hoping the recent strong south winds would bring in some new birds today. There were some, but the strong winds made finding them a little difficult. The early morning started with mild west winds but these soon increased to 20 to 30 mph producing white caps on Lake Law. Lake Law had a nice mixed flotilla of Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, American Wigeons and Lesser Scaup. Interestingly this group was still together on my return from the Hedge more than hour later. Lake Law also had our first group of Double-crested Cormorants consisting of a dozen birds. A.E. Sea had a pair of Pied-billed Grebe and several Wood Ducks, while the pair of Hooded Mergansers were still on the Sea of Evanescence. Birds of interest in the Sparrow Hedge area were Brown Thrashers, Field Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow. A pair of American Kestrels were again near the Sparrow Hedge nest box, while a male was atop the Swenson Road nest box. Several Blue-winged Teal were in Nepese marsh and Swenson Road produced several Green-winged Teal. A beautiful male Belted Kingfisher with its crest up was perched on a wire over Dusaf Pond. A couple of Rusty Blackbirds were found in Morgan's Woods. The birdiest spot of the morning was the Big Woods with numerous woodpeckers, chickadees and robins. The highlights were several Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Bluebirds, and Dark-eyed Juncos, the first migrant Yellow-rumped Warbler, the first Winter Wren of the year and a pair of Great Horned Owls. A Turkey Vulture was soaring along the northern edge of the woods as I exited. Finally, the female Great Horned Owl was still atop her nest. Dave

Sunday, March 25

Another beautiful morning greeted us again this morning with mild winds and above average temperatures. Lake Law was quiet with only Ruddy Duck and Pied-billed Grebe worthy of mention. Singing Brown Thrashers, the first of the season, were found in the Sparrow Hedge area. Other singers in this area were Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow and Field Sparrow. Today a male American Kestrel was standing guard near the nest box in the area. Other birds of mention in the area were Wood Duck, Tree Swallow, White- throated Sparrow and Fox Sparrow. The Nepese marsh area produced Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal and Green Winged Teal. After adding Hairy Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow and some of the last American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos in the Garden Club, we were pleasantly surprised to find a Cooper's Hawk near a nest in the area. Lake Logo had several American Coots along with a lone Bufflehead, and Main Ring Lake had a Double Crested Cormorant. Savannah Sparrows were found in a couple of different locations. I was surprised by four Wilson's Snipe bursting out of the flooded grasses along Swenson Road as I stepped out of the car. Finally, a lone Turkey Vulture sailed over Eloa Road as we headed for donuts. Dave

Wednesday, March 21

A hot, late afternoon/evening trip to Fermi today produced a few more new year birds. The first new arrival was a Field Sparrow on my way to the Sparrow Hedge. Next was a Double-crested Cormorant along the edge of A.E. Sea while a Pied-billed Grebe swam nearby. Hooded Mergansers and Green-winged Teal were found on the Sea of Evanescence. A female American Kestrel was perched in a tree adjacent to the nest box just east of the Sparrow Hedge. Northern Flickers numbers are beginning to increase here and throughout the Lab. Others in the Hedge area were a calling Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrows and Fox Sparrows but both of these in smaller numbers than in previous trips. A Chipping Sparrow was heard in the trees of the Village; this is a two to three weeks earlier arrival than in the past. Nepese marsh provided Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal and a female Bufflehead. The Garden Club had more Field Sparrows, with some singing. Singing Dark-eyed Juncos and a couple of American Tree Sparrows were also found, but their numbers appear to be waning fast lately throughout the Lab. Main Ring Lake was very quiet with only a few Gadwall, a pair of Ruddy Ducks and three American Coots. As the sun dropped below the horizon, American Woodcocks began peenting but did not start their flights until almost dark. Unfortunately, no screech- owls were contacted later in the evening. Dave

Sunday, March 18

Another beautiful morning greeted us with temperatures more than 30 deg. above normal. Winds again were low to moderate most of the morning. We started at Lake Law which produced Ring-necked Ducks and a Lesser Scaup, but the highlight here was five Horned Grebes. Four of the grebes were in full breeding plumage while the fifth was still showing clean non-breeding plumage. A Pied-billed Grebe was fishing in A.E. Sea. An American Kestrel was calling as it flew toward the east end of the Sparrow Hedge, hopefully, to check out the new nest box in that area. The Hedge still had many Song Sparrows, singing Fox Sparrows and a White-crowned Sparrow. Eastern Meadowlarks were singing in the fields south of the Hedge and just about every other suitable location in the Lab. Another American Kestrel was spotted along West Wilson Road. It's really good to see them becoming well distributed around the Lab again. The first Eastern Phoebe of the year was heard then found in the area of the fire station. Finally, Denis mentioned that he had a Ring-necked Pheasant yesterday near Batavia and Eola Roads. Dave

Friday, March 16

Another beautiful March shirtsleeve morning greeted Peter and I this morning. Lake Law produced Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck and our first Pied-billed Grebe of the year. On the way back to the Sparrow Hedge we were greeted by the first migrant Eastern Towhee of the year. At first it was calling; then later it began its song from atop a tall tree. Song Sparrows and Fox Sparrows remain in good numbers in the Hedge Area. An Eastern Meadowlark in the field south of the Hedge glowed in the bright sun and then Sandhill Cranes were heard but not seen. These cranes may have been on the ground but this could not be determined. The highlight of this area was seeing a late Northern Shrike perched in a tree along with an American Kestrel and Red-winged Blackbird; all three in very close proximity. Nepsee marsh had about two dozen Northern Shovelers, several Blue-winged Teal (another new year bird) while some Eastern Bluebirds sang nearby. The Swenson Road area had several Green-winged Teal and another recent arrival, a Tree Swallow. Main Ring Lake added American Black Duck, Gadwall and American Coot while the Main Injector Moat added Redhead and Belted Kingfisher. Some other birds of mention were Wood Duck, Bufflehead, Northern Flicker, Horned Lark, and another dozen or more Fox Sparrows. Finally, the Great Horned Owl is still atop her nest and the Barred Owl was again spotted. Dave

Wednesday, March 14

A Short-eared Owl was reportedly perched atop a post on the east side of North Eola Road. Dave

Sunday, March 11

The morning started out beautifully with sun and minimal winds. Even when the wind picked up on our way back from the Sparrow Hedge, it was not much of a factor. Lake Law had the expected Common Mergansers though their numbers appear to be diminishing throughout the Lab. Additionally seen on Lake Law were Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintails, and Ruddy Ducks. One of the biggest surprises of the morning was when a Northern Shrike flew in and perched in a tree about 30 yards from where our scope was setup. A singing Eastern Meadowlark greeted us as we headed to the Sparrow Hedge and upon our return a Northern Harrier hunted past us; not the most common of locations for either of these birds. The path along the Hedge was filled with Song Sparrows and Fox Sparrows, some singing, and a White-throated Sparrow. At Main Ring Lake we added Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Common Goldeneye, and American Black Duck with Wood Ducks nearby. The second big surprise of the morning was a Sharp-shinned Hawk strangely hunting the prairie inside the Ring. This was interesting especially since I witnessed a similar experience with a sharp-shin back in early January, with no other sightings from then until now. The Ring-necked Ducks had returned to the Main Injector moat. We finished up at Casey's Pond with both Redheads and Lesser Scaup. Other signs of spring were provided by the sounds of Chorus Frogs and the first sightings of Garter Snakes. Dave

Friday, March 9

Despite the cool and windy conditions, the Sparrow Hedge/Lakes region was quite active with birdlife. Around two dozen mostly common species were in the area. Some of the highlights were an American Kestrel and Eastern Bluebird east of the Hedge, several Fox Sparrows and Song Sparrows in the hedge and the first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the year in the pines. The only waterfowl seen on the lakes in this area were Common Mergansers which have been the most numerous species throughout the Lab lately. American Crows are still being seen in multiple locations throughout the Lab. Other Waterfowl seen around the Lab were Gadwall, American Black Duck, Redhead, Greater Scaup, and Ruddy Duck. In addition to the American Coots that have been on the Main Injector Moat more coots have arrived and are on Main Ring Lake. Although Peter reported some Wood Ducks and a Turkey Vulture earlier in the week, these birds were new for me this morning. Also new for the year was a Brown Creeper seen in Main Ring Woods West. A total of four American Kestrels were seen today, two being a pair near the end of Swensen Road close to the nest box that was active last year. A Red-tailed Hawk has settled into the nest at the southwest corner of the buffalo savannah. From the owl department, the female Great Horned Owl appears a little higher on her nest and a surprise sighting of a Barred Owl was a highlight after not being seen since mid January. Dave

Sunday, March 4

This morning's moderate west winds, overcast skies, and slightly below normal temps helped to keep bird activity, other than waterfowl, somewhat suppressed. A decent variety of waterfowl included highlights of Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. American Coots still inhabit the Main Injector Moat. In addition, about 100 Ring-necked Ducks were seen at the south end of the moat. Several Northern Harriers were found throughout the lab, including three adult males. Bald Eagles were found inside the Main Ring and catching a fish in A.E. Sea. A group of migrating Song Sparrows were spotted in the brushy areas of Morgan's Woods. A fairly large flock of blackbirds including Red-winged Blackbirds, a good number of Common Grackles, several Brown-headed Cowbirds, and the first Rusty Blackbird of the year were found along Powerline Road. Also spotted were several Killdeer and an Eastern Bluebird. Finally, the Great Horned Owl remains on its nest. Dave

Thursday, March 1

Less than optimal birding conditions this morning with grey clouds, cool winds and an occasional mist which did not produce any new birds for the year. Weather conditions aside, some birds are becoming more evident in their typical locations including Killdeer, Northern Flicker, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, and Red-winged Blackbird. Waterfowl variety was down from what Peter experienced yesterday. Some of today's highlights were Gadwall, American Wigeon, Redhead, about 70 Ring-necked Ducks (in the Main Injector Moat), Greater Scaup and the usual good number of Common Mergansers. The Sparrow Hedge produced Song Sparrows, a Swamp Sparrow and several Fox Sparrows. In addition a Northern Harrier was hunting throughout this area. Other highlights were American Coot, Great Horned Owl, American Crow, Horned Lark and White-throated Sparrow. Dave

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