Monthly Archives: November 2015

Rough-legged Hawk, November 22, 2015

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting (click to see a larger version)

I had a Rough-legged Hawk fly south over Montrose Point this morning. Rough-legged Hawks are rare at Montrose; I think I’ve seen fewer than 10 in the 35+ years I’ve been birding there. I saw the bird just after sunrise and it was a couple hundred feet high so it must have started migrating in the dark.

Other birds seen at Montrose this chilly a.m. include:

American Pipit – 2
Fox Sparrow – 2
Savannah Sparrow – 1
Lapland Longspur – 5
Snow Bunting – ~8
Common Redpoll – 3
Pine Siskin – 1

It was so cold this morning the lake was steaming, something we usually don’t see until well into winter.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Steaming (click to see a larger version)

Burbot, November 16, 2015

Burbot

Burbot (click to see the larger version)

This morning I saw a strange fish at Montrose, a fish I’ve never seen before. I’m familiar with most of the local fish and I can at least place them into larger categories, e.g., salmon, bass, pike, gar, but this one looked nothing like any fish I’ve ever seen in the wild. It reminded me of a cod and I vaguely recalled that there is a freshwater cod-like fish found in the Great Lakes called a Burbot. When I got home I did some research and my mystery fish matches up very well with a Burbot (Lota lota). According to Wikipedia, Burbot are benthic in nature, which means they inhabit the lowest levels of a body of water, which might explain why I don’t see them.

Black-legged Kittiwake, November 13, 2015

Black-legged Kittiwake

Black-legged Kittiwake. Photo by Geoff Williamson. (click to see a larger version )

One doesn’t usually associate Black-legged Kittiwakes with strong west winds on the west side of Lake Michigan but this morning a first year Black-legged Kittiwake flew south past Montrose Point, delighting the several people who were conducting a lakewatch at the end of the fishing pier.

Other birds seen on today’s westerlies include about a dozen Franklin’s Gulls (a more expected species on strong west winds), numbers of Bonaparte’s Gulls, several Northern Harriers, an American Woodcock, and a few Lapland Longspurs and Common Redpolls.

November 6, 2015

Given the strong west winds I expected the dunes to be full of Short-eared Owls this morning but alas I could only muster one. Other birds seen or heard at Montrose this a.m. include:

Wilson’s Snipe – 1 in the western panne
American Woodcock – 1 flushed from the Magic Hedge
American Pipit – 1 flying over the beach
Lapland Longspur – 3 in the dunes
Snow Bunting – 1 in the dunes
Rusty Blackbird – 1 in the western panne
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
Pine Siskin – 1
White-throated Sparrow – 3
Fox Sparrow – 1

West winds in fall do a birder good.

LeConte’s Sparrow, November 3, 2015

LeConte's Sparrow

LeConte’s Sparrow (click to see the larger version)

I had a latish LeConte’s Sparrow this morning in the grass at the base of the willows at the east end of the beach. I have had LeConte’s in November in Lincoln Park but not very often so this is unusual. There were good numbers of other birds in the dunes, mostly American Robins and Savannah Sparrows but I also had a flyover Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspur. No Short-eared Owl this a.m. I saw nothing else of note in a short walk around the point but I didn’t stay long.

Short-eared Owl, November 1, 2015

Tis’ the season for Short-eared Owls at Montrose. This morning I kicked one up out of the western panne in the dunes. The bird flew out over the lake and circled around a few times before I walked away and lost sight of it. This is typical Short-eared Owl behavior at Montrose, and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t.

Migration is really winding down, especially passerine migration, but I did have a few other birds, including:

Great Black-backed Gull – 1 second cycle type
Sanderling – 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
Hermit Thrush – ~10
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 1
Winter Wren – 2
American Pipit – 1
Swamp Sparrow – 1
White-crowned Sparrow – 1
Savannah Sparrow – 1
Pine Siskin – ~40
Lapland Longspur – 2
Rusty Blackbird – 1

That’s about everything. In another couple weeks there will be even less.