Today was a good day to look at Lake Michigan – overcast skies, a flat surface, and excellent visibility most of the way to the horizon, perfect conditions for looking for birds on the water. While scanning the lake I found several groups of White-winged Scoters, a female Black Scoter, and 4 Long-tailed Ducks. The White-winged Scoters (~20) were scattered in small flocks 1/5 to 1/4 mile offshore from the fishing pier. With one of these flocks was a female Black Scoter, a good bird for Montrose in the spring. Finally, I saw a group of Long-tailed Ducks flying south far offshore. These birds landed eventually but disappeared because of distance. Also of note were about a dozen Double-crested Cormorants on the water crib a couple of miles offshore from Montrose, the beginnings of the nesting colony. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Baird’s Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
I wasn’t even going to bird this morning (November 4) because of rain in the forecast, but when I looked out my window at 7:30 I saw no rain, so I grabbed my gear and headed over to Montrose. I tallied a whopping 20 species for my effort, unimpressive even by early November standards. But, BUT, 25% of that tally consisted of good birds – Harlequin Duck (off the end of the fishing pier, found by Krzysztof Kurlyowicz), Black Scoter (2 flybys, found by Steve Huggins), Red-necked Grebe (flyby), Piping Plover, and Baird’s Sandpiper. The Baird’s (2 juveniles) represent one of the latest records of this species for Montrose, continuing the trend for late birds started by the Piping Plover.
It’s hard to go wrong in November.
Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose this morning, November 24. I saw very little of interest, the highlight being 3 southbound Black Scoters. Typically at this time of the year one can expect to see loons, grebes, and a variety of waterfowl resting on Lake Michigan or flying by. I saw no loons, a couple Horned Grebes, and except for the scoters only Red-breasted Mergansers on the lake. November is the best month of the year for rare and unusual species, but the extended period of mild weather for the first 3 weeks of the month made for slow and unremarkable birding. Indian Summer does not do a fall birder good. Bring on the Arctic fronts. Link to my meager and unimpressive eBird checklist below.