May 21, 2017 – Still Birdy

Sanderlings

Sanderlings (click to see the larger version)

I spent about 4.5 hours at Montrose this morning, May 21, and it was still birdy. My total for the morning was 84 species. A week ago White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers formed the bulk of the migrant passerines. By contrast, I saw only two White-crowned Sparrows and no Yellow-rumped Warblers this morning. The dominant warblers today were Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart. There were also decent numbers of Wilson’s and Canada Warblers. Thrush and sparrow numbers were way down from early last week as well. My highlights include

Least Bittern – 1 female. Thanks to the kind couple who pointed her out to me.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Chimney Swift – ~300, swarming over the point
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 4
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
19 species of warblers, including Mourning, Connecticut, and 2 male Black-throated Blues

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37034362

May 16, 2017 – As Good As It Gets

I took the day off today, May 16, in anticipation of the south winds and expected bird bonanza at Montrose. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve been birding Montrose for 35 years and I’ve had some great days there, but I can say that today was the best day I’ve ever had, and I can back that claim up with numbers. I ended up with 110 species in about 9 hours of birding (split over morning and afternoon visits), besting my previous personal high by 7 species. Passerines were the highlight, with good numbers of warblers, thrushes, and flycatchers. I also picked up several bonus birds that helped pad my total. My highlights include

Osprey – 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Alder Flycatcher – 3
Willow Flycatcher – 2
Blue-headed Vireo – 1
Philadelphia Vireo – 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Eastern Bluebird – 2
Veery – 8
Gray-cheeked Thrush – 6
Swainson’s Thrush – 20
Wood Thrush – 1
Northern Mockingbird – 1
American Pipit – 1
26 species of warblers, including
Orange-crowned Warbler – 1
Connecticut Warbler – 2
Mourning Warbler – 2
Hooded Warbler – 2
Northern Parula – 1
Bay-breasted Warbler – 10
Blackburnian Warbler – 5
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1
Canada Warbler – 4
Dickcissel – 1
Bobolink – 1

According to eBird, 128 species total were seen at Montrose today, which I’m guessing is a single day high count for us. Yes, it was that good. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36908718

Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow, and Clay-colored Sparrow, May 1, 2017

I spent about 3.5 hours at Montrose this morning, May 1, and it was worth just about every minute. Passerines were in in good numbers; I had a number of goodies and FOSs. Shorebirds, however, were disappointing. I woke up extra early and made it the beach just before sunrise, but all I could muster were a few Spotted Sandpipers, probably the nesting birds, and a couple Killdeer, again probably the local breeding birds. I ended up with 78 species, highlighted by

Virginia Rail – 1 in the eastern panne
Sora – 3
Forster’s Tern – ~60, strong movement
Merlin – 1
Great Crested Flycatcher – 1
Eastern Kingbird – 5
All 5 regularly occurring swallows
Sedge Wren – 1 singing in the eastern panne
Gray-cheeked Thrush – 1
Wood Thrush – 2
Veery – 1
11 species of warblers, Blue-winged being the best
Clay-colored Sparrow – 1, thanks Phil
Lark Sparrow – 1
Blue Grosbeak – 1 immature male
Bobolink – 1

Bird of the day goes to the immature male Blue Grosbeak. I’ve only seen 2 or 3 BLGR at Montrose in my 35+ years birding there, so I was fairly excited. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36453350

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