Rusty Blackbird (click to see the larger version)
As expected, the strong south winds brought a lot of migrants to Montrose Point on March 30. I ended up with 41 species in a little over two hours of effort, and 57 species were reported on eBird by all observers. Most impressive were the numbers of Northern Flickers coming in off Lake Michigan early in the morning. These birds were migrating north over the lake at night, and when the sun rose they started to head inland towards land and safety. No passerine or other landbird worth its life wants to get caught over Lake Michigan when the sun comes up. The local Peregrine Falcons and Herring Gulls relish hunting these tardy migrants as they make their way to shore. I also had multiple first of spring sightings, including Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, and Lapland Longspur. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
Migration screenshot for March 30 (click to see the larger version)
I’ve included this screenshot from the night of March 30 to show what migration looks like on radar. The blue rings or “doughnuts” are groups of birds picked up by radar as they migrate in the night sky. This is a typical scenario during spring and fall migration. The birds are common spring migrants like Dark-eyed Juncos, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
March 30, 2021
March 26 saw an influx of migrants, most notably American Robins, blackbirds, and several types of sparrows. There were also good numbers of ducks on Lake Michigan, particularly Red-breasted Mergansers, and a few ducks moving north. This happens every spring when we get warm fronts and south winds. I tallied 46 species in a little less than 2 hours of effort, including a number of first of seasons. My highlights
Blue-winged Teal – 11
Northern Shoveler – 4
American Wigeon – 5
Ring-necked Duck – 4
White-winged Scoter – 8
Caspian Tern – 1
Common Loon – 4
Merlin – 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 4
Brown Creeper – 1
Fox Sparrow – 10
This will be my last bird report or blog post from Montrose for a while. See the post immediately above for the reason why.
March 26, 2020
Iceland Gull (click to see the larger version)
Lake Michigan was alive with birds this morning, April 27. Red-breasted Mergansers, Caspian Terns, and Double-crested Cormorants were conspicuous in their abundance. I didn’t see any unusual large shorebirds but I did have a pale third cycle type Iceland Gull on the beach and a second cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull flying around the fishing pier. Also, a late Red-throated Loon going north. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Caspian Terns (click to see the larger version)
Caspian Terns have invaded the Chicago lakefront in force. I counted over 300 at Montrose Beach on April 25, possibly the largest number of Caspian Terns I’ve ever recorded at Montrose. This group was taking a break in the fluddle on the beach. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
There was a lot of activity on the lake at Montrose this morning, April 25, including good numbers of Caspian Terns, Double-crested Cormorants, and Red-breasted Mergansers. More exciting were the Bonaparte’s Gulls. In about 45 minutes I estimate I had about 200 moving north past the point, and I only stopped looking when the rain started coming down in earnest. Bonaparte’s Gulls have become rare at Montrose in the spring, so seeing this many was a pleasant surprise. I also had a single Common Loon and White-winged Scoter and flocks of Lesser Scaup. Migrant landbirds were scarce, as would be expected with northeast winds.
Juvenile Herring Gull at Montrose Beach, one of three (click to see the larger version).
I had my first juvenile Herring Gulls (3) of the year on July 18. I usually start to see juvenile Herring Gulls about one month after the first juvenile Ring-billed Gulls show up, which is around the third week of June. There were also a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers on the beach, a few Caspian Terns, including a whistling juvenile, and hundreds of dragonflies over the beach, dunes, and meadow.