Category Archives: Sightings

Red-throated Loons, Sandhill Cranes, Le Conte’s Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark, April 1, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes (click to see the larger version)

I spent an enjoyable morning at Montrose today, April 1. It was on the chilly side, but the sun was out and the birding was productive. I ended up with 46 species in about 3 hours, highlights including:

White-winged Scoter – group of 9 flying north
Red-throated Loon – group of 4 flying north
Common Loon – 6 flying north
Sandhill Crane – 2 flying south over the point
Bonaparte’s Gull – group of 9 flying north
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 1 in the dunes
Western Meadowlark – 1, seen and heard singing in the dunes

The bird of the day goes to the Western Meadowlark. I’ve only had a couple WEMEs in my 30+ years birding Montrose, so this is a pretty good bird for me. The Sandhill Cranes and Le Conte’s Sparrow were nice bonus birds. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35609386

White-winged Scoter, Snow Goose, and Thayer’s Gull, March 11, 2017

Snow Goose

Snow Goose (click to see the larger version)

With morning temps in the teens and a wind chill even colder, today felt more like January than early March. I ended up with 23 species in about an hour and half of birding, highlighted by the continuing blue morph Snow Goose and White-winged Scoter, and a bonus adult Thayer’s Gull in the harbor. There were also good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbor and in the lake just outside of the harbor mouth. I did not see the female Long-tailed Duck, which didn’t appear to be doing well when last seen. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35103794

Long-tailed Duck , March 6, 2017

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)

A tame female Long-tailed Duck was the birding highlight at Montrose this morning, March 6. Montrose regular Dave Antieau found her in the southeast corner of Montrose Harbor, close to the harbor wall. Long-tailed Ducks are uncommon but regular visitors to Montrose, so this sighting isn’t that unusual. What is unusual is how close to land the bird was – Long-tailed Ducks are typically found offshore on Lake Michigan. Whenever I see them close to shore, like this bird, I assume they are sick or injured. Call it a prejudice of mine.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35002209

White-winged Scoters and Long-tailed Duck, February 27, 2017

I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, February 27. I haven’t been birding Montrose much this winter, but I had the day off, so I thought I’d take advantage of it. I ended up with 27 species, highlighted by 2 northbound White-winged Scoters and a drake Long-tailed Duck, both seen from the end of the fishing pier as part of a brief lakewatch. I spent most of my time checking the lake and harbor, so my landbird total isn’t that impressive, but I did see a couple Rusty Blackbirds near the Magic Hedge and an Eastern Meadowlark in the native planting area. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34839898

Black-capped Chickadees, January 11, 2017

Who knew the human hand could double as a feeding platform for birds? I wanted to see if I could entice the resident Black-capped Chickadees at Montrose to take food from my hand (and video the experience at the same time). I’ve seen people hand feeding chickadees at Montrose, so I knew the birds were accustomed to this practice. I went over there one recent morning and when I found the chickadees I crumbled up a granola bar, put it in my left hand, and filmed the encounter with my phone camera in my right hand. After a few seconds and a little pishing the birds started coming in and taking the food. It’s amazing how tame wildlife can be. Video of the encounter below.

December 21, 2016

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier (click to see the larger version)

I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, December 21. It certainly looked and felt like winter, with a thin layer of ice on Lake Michigan all the way to the horizon. As expected for this time of year, diversity was low. I ended up with 25 species, highlighted by a nice adult male Northern Harrier, the continuing female Rusty Blackbird, and hundreds of Common Mergansers. When I think of an emblematic Lake Michigan winter bird, I think of the Common Merganser, a hardy duck that can survive our brutal winters with just a little open water to find fish to eat. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33128914