A strong movement of northbound waterfowl occurred at Montrose this morning, March 30. Geoff Williamson and I stood at the end of the fishing pier for a couple of hours and watched flock after flock of diving and dabbling ducks moving north along Lake Michigan. Most were scaup and Redheads but we also had small numbers of Canvasbacks (uncommon at Montrose), Northern Pintails, Gadwall, American Wigeon, and smaller numbers of Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teal. We also had a couple of Common Loons and Iceland and Great Black-backed Gulls. A group of White-winged Scoters (~12) was still on the lake off the end of the fishing pier. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
American Bittern (click to see the larger version)
It’s axiomatic among Chicago lakefront birders that warm fronts with southwest winds in spring bring large numbers of migrants to the Chicago lakefront parks. That axiom was in full effect at Montrose Point today, April 12. I had the day off and spent a little over 3 hours at Montrose, tallying 69 species for my effort. Most impressive was the high volume of Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers and other mid-spring migrants. I knew I was in for a good morning when I saw Northern Flickers and flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers and American Robins coming in off Lake Michigan. I didn’t bird Montrose much in March because of the cold weather, so seeing all these migrants was a nice way to get back in the birding saddle.
Some of the other birds I saw at Montrose this a.m. include migrating Osprey and Northern Harriers, a lingering White-winged Scoter, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin, migrating Common Loons, and a cooperative American Bittern. Link to my eBird checklist below.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose this morning, May 7, from just before
sunrise to about 8 when the cold front passed and the rain and lightning
started. There were good numbers of birds and I ended up with 70 species
on the head. Sparrows were the big story, especially White-crowned,
which probably peaked today. Flycatchers, thrushes, and vireos on the
other hand were scarce and warbler diversity was low. Passerines were
coming in off the lake for about an hour after sunrise. I had several
FOYs. Here are my highlights:
Common Loon – 1 adult in breeding plumage in the lake
Great Egret – 3 flyovers
Northern Harrier – 1 going north low over the lake
Black-bellied Plover – 1 cracking adult male in breeding duds on the beach
American Avocet – 4 on the beach
White-rumped Sandpiper – 1 flying around the beach with a group of Least
Lesser Yellowlegs – 13, a nice count for Montrose which tends to be
Dowitcher sp. – 1 with the yellowlegs
Great Crested Flycatcher – 1 This and an Eastern Kingbird were my only 2
Blue Jay – ~100 flying over and around the Point
Cliff Swallow – 1
Bank Swallow – ~25, moving north and south
Marsh Wren – 1 in the Dunes
Hermit Thrush – 1 This and a Veery were my only Catharus thrushes
American Pipit – ~5, all at the beach
Northern Parula – 1
Clay-colored Sparrow – 1
White-crowned Sparrow – Hundreds
White-throated Sparrow – ~75
Savannah Sparrow – ~30
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 3
Orchard Oriole – 1 adult male
I walked out onto the Fishhook Pier this morning, April 13,
to see what if anything was on the water or flying by. It’s getting late
for waterfowl so I wasn’t expecting much but I did have Common and
Red-throated Loons. The Common was on the water on the lakeside and the
Red-throated, a basic type bird, was flying north. I also saw a few
Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal flying around, small numbers of Lesser
Scaup, a couple Bufflehead, and continuing Red-breasted Mergansers and a
few Horned Grebes. I didn’t look very hard for landbirds but with the
east winds I wouldn’t expect to see many.
I walked to the end of the Fishhook Pier at Montrose this morning, March 9, to scan the lake for resting and flying waterfowl. There were a few flocks of Aythya going north, as well as a tight cluster of flying Green-winged Teal. Best and somewhat unexpected was an adult Common Loon in breeding dress boogying north. This is about 2 weeks earlier than I usually start seeing them along the lakefront. I didn’t spend a lot of time birding but I also saw several flocks of blackbirds going north, south and west. South winds in spring rock.
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.