OCTOBER 2008 Sightings

Chris Bowman on 10/29 reported via e-mail: 10/28 (Tuesday) about noon: I was by the southeast corner of Peck Farm Lake, when I heard a song-sparrow-like chip a few yards away from under a large fallen dead tree. Waited for a minute until a tiny bird poked his head up, and I could see it was a wren. He ducked back down, but several seconds later emerged and hopped up on top of the log, in clear sunny lit view for about 10 seconds, only about 10 yards away before flying into the heavy bushes. Tiny wren with stubby tail - dark confluent top (in the sun was slightly more brown than what I've seen with the larger House Wren's), with weak eye-line, heavily barred flanks ----- Winter Wren (lifer for me). Other notables: Northern Harrier, Brown Creeper.

Karen Land on 10/27 reported via IBET: [On Sunday in] Geneva, we visited the pond at the new Steven Persinger Recreation Center at the corner of Peck and Keslinger. This has always been more of a fluddle but with the new parking lots and soccer fields built in the last year it has been more of a structured pond. Even with a number of soccer games going on, there is enough separation in distance and elevation that birds in the pond aren't disturbed. Mostly geese and mallards but there were about a dozen Northern Shovelers and 6 grebe. Sorry we didn't get a better ID, the winds were really picking up at this time and it became hard to stand let alone focus the binocs.

Bill Koch on 10/22 reported via e-mail: I visited Otter Creek FP off of Hopps on a lunch break yesterday. On the east trail I heard the odd calls of Rusty Blackbirds coming from the brush by the creek. Only found the 2 birds with no other type of blackbirds around. A few SANDHILL Cranes could be heard in the field North of the preserve. Chickadees,WB Nuthatches, Robins, Cardinals and Yellow Rumps were the only others seen.

As of yesterday morning there were still 12+ American Wigeons at Burnidge FP along with Green Winged Teal and Gadwall in the Main pond.

While checking out the main pond I noticed a Pied Billed Grebe playing around with something. Looking closer I realized it was a large Bullfrog it was killing for food. The bird finally killed its find and proceeded to swallow this frog head first. I was amazed to watch him swallow something whole that big. It was doing pretty good until its food got stuck. The Grebe then swam around for a couple of minutes with frog legs hanging out of its mouth trying to finish. In a last ditch effort the bird dove underwater and then came shooting out of the water frog leg and bill first to try and force the legs down his throat using the water pressure. On the third try it was successful! He won't be hungry for a while. Might need an antacid though.

Chris Bowman on 10/22 reported via e-mail: 10/21 Nelson Lake notables on a beautiful crisp sunny mourning: Orange-crowned Warbler (first saw in a low tree on the east side of the lake -- thought it might be an Orange on that view, but then it flew down to the ground undergrowth just about 5 yards in front of me, then I observed as it hopped up a plant stalk where it sat for about one minute in clear sunny view for positive ID (lifer for me); lots of migratory sparrows -- several White-crowned, several White-throated, several Fox, one American Tree, one Lincoln's (singing); two Purple finch; pack of Ring-necked Duck.

Ken Schneider on 10/16 reported via e-mail: October 10 was our last day in Illinois before returning to Florida. I really wanted to get better photos of the Eastern Bluebirds, so I went out early (to Jones Meadow Park in Batavia). I captured several images of them, as well as an Eastern Phoebe. See you all in the spring!

Eastern Bluebird (L) and Eastern Phoebe (R) photos courtesy Ken Schneider

Karen Land on 10/16 reported via IBET: For the past 4 days or so I have had both Red Breasted and White Breasted Nuthatches coming to my feeder (in Batavia), sometimes in tandem. Seeing them both side by side helped me realize how much bigger and chunkier the White Breasted was. Between my bushes, the seed head of the coneflowers and black eyed susans, whatever is in my gutter and the 2 hanging feeders, my backyard has been crazy with birds for several days now. Right now I have robins, mourning doves, several kinds of finches, 2 pairs of cardinals, a bluejay, chickadees, a woodpecker that I can hear and a number of blackbirds.

Gloria Dimoplon on 10/16 reported via e-mail: There were several America Wigeons at Burnidge this morning. Sharing the pond with the Widgeons were Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallard, Blue-Winged Teal, and a female Ruddy.

Wes Serafin om 10/12 reported via IBET: The second group of birders just missed the Yellow Rail by a few minutes. Despite valiant efforts the rail was not relocated.

There seems to be a little confusion on the exact location of the rail. There are two ponds in the SOUTHWEST portion of the prairie. The rail has been seen in between these two ponds.

We did see two NELSON'S SHARP TAILED SPARROWS today. Photos and the price you have to pay to walk this prairie are at: this link.

I suggest wearing nylon or gore-tex pants to avoid all the tickseed.

Bruce Heimer on 10/12 reported via IBET: Andy Sigler's Yellow Rail was again seen this morning between 8:00 and 8:30. The bird was first noticed by Paul Massey and flushed twice after that.

Matthew Cvetas on 10/12 reported via IBET: I arrived at Sauer Family Prairie Kame Preserve about 6:45am and joined forces with Bruce Heimer and Chris Cudworth to look for the YELLOW RAIL. About 7:30am or so, I flushed a small rail from the shoreline of the larger pond that flew about 20 feet and disappeared. Both Chris and I were looking into the sun so all we had at that point was silhouette. Bruce, unfortunately, did not see the bird.

We were then joined by Jeff, Karen, Alex Bloss, and a few others. After 30 minutes or so of walking in a line, Paul called from behind us that he had the rail. Six or seven of us had litterally walked right over it! We then did an about face and twice flushed the bird clearly seeing its white secondaries.

Like Mike Madsen, I too was struck by the darkness of the bird - not exactly what I expected but a thrill none the less.

Eric Walters on 10/12 reported via IBET: ...Later in the day I passed thru Kane County Sauer Kame. Unfortunately I hadn't paid attention to IBET posts, so I was unaware the Yellow Rail was still around, including that morning (which explains why others were asking me if I had seen it)! The heat was strong, almost like late August, the burrs extensive and the lighting terrible for good viewing. I'm not sure I actually passed thru where the Yellow Rail was reported as the various IBET posts don't seem to jive as to the exact location of sighting. Regardless, most of the birds seen Saturday morning must have either moved on as it was nothing like the exciting post for that morning that I later read.

On the way back to my car, I did find a Sharp-tailed Sparrow, perhaps the same one that Pete Moxin's group had earlier or maybe a 2nd bird. There were also 2 Bobolink's in the brush. Those were the limited highlights at that location.

David Johnson on 10/11 reported via IBET: I was lucky enough to be part of the 6 birder group that formed a walking line this morning along the east edge of the south pond--locating the Yellow Rail as it flushed from a very wet sedge mat at the edge of the pond in about 1 foot of water. The rail then flew directly in front of our group, then around behind us to the NW of the south pond landing on the NW edge of the pond it seemed. We got excellent looks at this bird in flight only, all of us noting the distinct all white secondaries while the bird was in flight. It is also smaller than a Sora rail and lighter blondy and grayish-black backed with short grayish wings with blondy-grayish-blackish coverts (the key in flight is to look for the ALL white secondaries). I believe this bird was an immature bird (perhaps others can chime in here as we did not see the bird sitting). We waited for another birder to join us before subsequent searches for the rail which were unsuccesful, however, we did see a young Sora, too, and one , if not several Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows.

Birders should wear knee high water proof boots and be prepared to have tons of "tick-burrs" on you as you walk through the prairie and wet grassy areas around these ponds (I'm still itching!).

Other birds about this morning included Pintail, Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Northern Harrier, a Golden Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, snipe, many Horned Larks and American Pipits and a few Lapland Longspurs. Savannah Sparrow were everywhere!

Thanks to Andy Sigler, Mike Madsen, Scott Cohrs, Joe Lill, Bob Fisher, and others who have posted detailed directions and notes on this elusive bird species.

Good Luck to all searching for this bird!

Scott Cohrs on 10/11 reported via IBET: Numbers do help! I was part of a group of 6 birders that saw the Yellow Rail at Sauer this morning. It was flushed from the northeast corner of the smaller pond. It flew across the pond and landed in the northwest corner. Others were attempting to relocate it when I left.

A few other birds of note include a Greater Yellowlegs, Snipe, Am. Golden Plover, N. Pintail, numerous American Pipits and many sparrows.

Paul Mayer on 10/10 reported via e-mail: On the Morning of 10/10 Bob Andrini and I went to Sauer Family Farm FP in search of Yellow Rail. Unfortunately Bob had to leave early. The Yellow Rail was located midway on the west side of larger pond approximately 10-20 feet in from the water's edge. Got a great look as it weakly flew about 30 feet and settled back into the heavy grass. The white patches on the secondaries were prominent. The bird is darker than a springtime adult so I'm assuming it to be a juvenile. Also present were Cooper's Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Bobolink, and one LLB.

Joe Lill on 10/10 reported via IBET: At @11:45 this Friday morning, Bill Reddiger, Paul Mayer and I twice saw a Yellow Rail at Sauer Preserve in Kane County. A lifer for Bill and me, and a state bird for Paul. Bill and I flushed it and had a decent look at the white secondaries during the fifteen-foot or so flight. Paul joined us, having seen the bird in silhouette. We walked well past where it landed without flushing it, then walked back. That put the sun behind us, and when it again flushed we had a great look at the bird during this second fifteen-foot flight. Satisfied, we left it alone.
The bird was right where Mike Madsen and Bob Fisher had reported it a couple of days ago. Walk on the north side of the large pond at Sauer Preserve (Kane County) until you reach the berm bordering the plowed field. Turn right, following the edge of the same pond. Continue along the shore and make another right, coming back up the south side of the large pond. We had it about 100 feet north of the berm, and, again, the three of us walked right along the edge of the pond. If it isn't there Bob also suggests walking the edge of the smaller pond. We also had Harrier, Peregrine and Sora during our search.
Thanks Andy, Mike and Bob! (and Scott for getting the Patagonia Effect in motion)

Bob Andrini on 10/10 reported via e-mail: I left too soon, but Paul Mayer saw the Yellow Rail out at Sauer FP on Friday.

Pete Moxon on 10/9 reported via phone: Another report from Sauer FP. One Yellow Rail. No Sprague's Pipit. A Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow along with several Savannah, Vesper, and Swamp sparrows. 2 Cooper's Hawks. Pied-billed Grebes and 2 Soras. "A bunch" of Northern Shovelers and Blue-winged Teal. And, finally, 2 Snow Geese in a flock of Canada Geese.

Bob Fisher on 10/8 reported via IBET: Demetri Lafkas and I went to (Sauer Forest Preserve) mid morning on Wednesday. We joined other birders looking for the (Yellow) rail. Some saw it, some had not yet seen it at the time we left around 11:30AM. The sighting location was in the same general area as described by Mike Madsen in his post.
While walking toward the marshy areas from the north, Demetri and I flushed a flock of 30+ Bobolinks. It was a bit surprising to see a large flock of Bobolinks this late in the season.
As far as I know, no one relocated the Spague's Pipit today

Pete Moxon on 10/8 reported via phone: At Fabyan Forest Preserve, south of the windmill, in amongst more common warblers, an Orange-crowned Warbler and a late Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Ken Schneider on 10/8 reported via e-mail: Yesterday morning, before the rains came, we walked in Jones Meadow Park in Batavia. The only warbler we saw was a Palm. A Northern Harrier flew over the cattail marsh. There were about a dozen Eastern Bluebirds clustered around the west end of the trail (at Deerpath), along with a Yellow-belied Sapsucker. It was so overcast that none of my bluebird photos showed much color, but one that is silhouetted against the somber sky looks as if it belongs on the inside cover of a Peterson's guide!

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (L) and Eastern Bluebird photos courtesy Ken Schneider

Mike Madsen on 10/7 reported via IBET: Sauer Family Preserve in Kane County produced another rare bird today when Andy Sigler and I tried to find the Sprague's Pipit that Scott Cohrs had seen yesterday. We were only able to find AMERICAN PIPITS in the plowed field just south of the preserve (also AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS). While searching for sparrows around a marshy area between the main pond and the smaller southwest pond, we flushed a YELLOW RAIL (a life bird and long-sought nemesis bird for me). Roughly an hour later we were walking the shoreline of the main pond (about 100 - 150 feet from where we had flushed the rail) and again flushed a Yellow Rail. I have no way of knowing if this was the same bird or if there were really two birds present there. Knowing their secretive nature I was truly stunned. The rail was somewhat darker than I had expected but the white on the trailing edge of the wing was quite prominent.

Other birds of interest included a NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, three LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS (which left when they were flushed by a PEREGRINE FALCON), BOBOLINKS, and a variety of sparrows.

Bob Andrini on 10/7 reported via e-mail: Looking into the backyard, we saw a flash of white outer tail feathers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Upon closer inspection, we saw 3 Dark-eyed Juncos - they are back.

Scott Cohrs on 10/7 reported via IBET: I stopped at the Sauer Family Preserve in Kane County yesterday afternoon. I was very fortunate to flush a Sprague's Pipit from the grassy berm along the south end of the main pond. It flushed once a short distance towards the pond shore, then flushed again south across the berm into the plowed clover field to the south. I was able to watch it a few minutes in the field before I lost it amongst the dirt.

When initially flushed, it showed very prominent white outer-tail feathers, much like a Junco or Meadowlark. I assumed it was probably another Vesper Sparrow, so I tried to get another look. When it eventually sat in the dirt field, I was surprised to see it was a Pipit-type bird. The first thing I noticed when it was in the field were the bright pink legs, almost orange in the afternoon sun. The bird had a flat head, pale face, faint breast band, white throat, and white under tail coverts. It also had a noticeable white wing bar, thin bill and was a pale tan color, slightly streaked on the back. It was most certainly not a Am. Pipit or a juvenile Horned Lark. I considered a fresh Vesper Sparrow, which would be much more likely. However, the structure and other traits were wrong.

The only thing that bothers me is the behavior. The bird did not perform the high spiral flight, nor did it dive into grass to conceal itself. It actually landed in a bare dirt field, which seems almost unprecedented, at least for in Illinois. I can't really explain that. I did look up the migration dates which Dan Kassebaum compiled for the latest Meadowlark. October 6th does fall within the expected window, though perhaps a bit earlier than 'expected'. Incidentally, I had planned to look for Sprague's at Sauer in the coming weeks, though I was not searching for one yesterday. I thought it was still a tad early. The location of this bird was also not exactly where I was going to
concentrate my search, though there are suitable fields just a few hundred yards to the east.

Other notable but less exciting birds present include 3 Long-billed Dowitchers and a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. The sparrow was actually my target for the day. There were many sparrows in the weeds along the north shore of the main pond. A few Bobolinks and a Common Yellowthroat were also still present.

Monk Parakeet photo courtesy Chris Madsen

Jon Duerr on 10/5 reported via phone: On Sunday afternoon, Jon and Joy looked out the windows to the backyard and spotted this Monk Parakeet. Jon said that Monk Parakeets were reported in Aurora during the '60s, but this is his first sighting in Kane County.

Ken Schneider on 10/4 reported via e-mail: I participated in a delightful bird walk at Dick Young/Nelson Lake FP this morning. A collection of 19 photos I took during the walk are posted on my blog (click here) in the group entitled "Nelson Lake Oct 4 2008."

Highlights were sightings of an Osprey and our very close encounter with a Sedge Wren, a species which I have struggled to capture in previous photographs. This time the bird approached within 5 feet, too close for my 420 mm lens system-- I had to quickly switch to a macro setting and still had full frames with eye-popping views of this little gem. Flying back to Florida this Saturday but looking forward to returning for Spring migration in late April.

Another neat photo that can be seen on my blog was one of a Downy Woodpecker leaping between twigs and looking like an Olympian on uneven parallel bars!

Good birding!

Sedge Wren (L) and White-throated Sparrow photos courtesy Ken Schneider

Ken Schneider on 10/1 reported via e-mail: We returned to Jones Meadow Park this morning. We did not see the Peregrine, but did see some warblers: a Yellow-rumped eating a fly, and a Tennessee. We also photographed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a problematic flycatcher that I thought was an Eastern Wood-Pewee, but upon reviewing my photos it seems to be an Empid. It is quite gray, fairly large-billed with a yellow lower mandible and a tear-shaped eye ring. Maybe a Willow or a Traill's complex, but I am not sure. Any help with ID would be appreciated. Photos are on my Flickr page (click here) in the group titled "Jones Meadow Park."

Yellow-rumped Warbler (L) and Tennessee Warbler (R) photos courtesy Ken Schneider

Ken Schneider on 10/1 reported via e-mail: Mary Lou and I "discovered" a nice new city park within walking distance of our North Aurora home. It is Jones Meadow Park, on the corner of Mooseheart and White Oak in Batavia. A paved trail leads about a half mile to Deerpath. The trail is bordered by open space containing varied habitats: a lake, wetlands with cattails, a sedge meadow, some recovering dry prairie, and some nice woodlands. A highlight yesterday morning was a low flyover by a Peregrine Falcon. We also saw a pair of kestrels, a Cooper's Hawk, and two Redtails.


This page last updated Thursday November 06, 2008.

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