Northern Harrier (click to see the larger version)
The Northern Harriers put on quite a show on October 23. I counted 16, all southbound flybys, in about 2 hours of morning birding. Most were female/immature type birds, like the individual pictured here. Several were coming in low off Lake Michigan and flying right over the beach and dunes (and me). Other birds seen include Short-eared Owl, 3 Surf Scoters, Franklin’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls, Merlin, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, and Purple Finch. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below. October rocks!
LeConte’s Sparrow (click to see the larger version)
October is the month for LeConte’s Sparrows at Montrose. This particular LeConte’s was hanging around an isolated bush in Montrose Dunes. I think we should start calling this bush the Magic Bush for the way it’s been attracting sparrows this fall. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Highlights from October 12 were an American Avocet that almost became brunch for 2 of the local Peregrine Falcons, and this male Merlin that took a break from terrorizing songbirds long enough to have his pic taken. I ended up with 47 species in 3 hours of birding. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Painted Lady and Common Buckeye (click to see the larger version)
More October butterfly mania from Montrose. This Painted Lady and Common Buckeye were cheek to jowl, so to speak, on this aster in the Butterfly Garden. Asters are like magnets for attracting nectar-feeding insects. This has been one of the best falls for butterflies I can remember, with hundreds of Monarchs and other leps.
Lesser Black-backed Gull with Ring-billed Gulls (click to see the larger version)
The birding highlight for me on October 4 was this crisply marked juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. I can’t remember the last time I saw a full juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull anywhere – usually by this time of the year first cycle birds have molted in at least a few second-generation upperpart feathers. Lesser Black-backed Gulls have increased dramatically in North America in recent years, including the Great Lakes, where they are uncommon but regular. I wonder where this one hatched? Europe? Iceland? Somewhere in North America? Impossible to know but fun to think about. More photos are at my eBird checklist for the day, link below.