Tis’ the season for Short-eared Owls at Montrose. This morning I kicked one up out of the western panne in the dunes. The bird flew out over the lake and circled around a few times before I walked away and lost sight of it. This is typical Short-eared Owl behavior at Montrose, and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t.
Migration is really winding down, especially passerine migration, but I did have a few other birds, including:
Great Black-backed Gull (click to see the larger version)
A walk around Montrose this morning, January 19, yielded a couple good birds. While I was scanning the lake from the fishing pier I saw a Red-throated Loon on the water a few hundred yards offshore. The bird was slowly drifting to the north and I thought I could get a better look at it by walking north on the pier as it swam north but I lost sight of it. Red-throated Loons are rare in winter at Montrose, though they are the expected loon at this time of the year.
I also had a first cycle Great Black-backed Gull near the parking lot adjacent to the bathroom building. The bird was actually up on the grass feeding on handouts like a Ring-billed Gull, a behavior I don’t think I’ve seen before for GBBG. The bird also has a bad left foot as can be seen in the photo below. I saw nothing else of note.
I spent about an hour at Montrose this morning, December 7. The birds and birding feel mostly like winter, which means I didn’t have a lot of variety, but the morning wasn’t a total loss. I didn’t see the Snowy Owl, and it wasn’t seen yesterday, so perhaps it has moved on. I suspect there will be a few more this winter, judging from the numbers to the north of us. The large raptor highlight was the continuing juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, which was dining on a rabbit near the Magic Hedge. This bird has been around for about a month and has no doubt made significant progress in reducing the rabbit population at Montrose. I also saw a young Great Black-backed Gull flying around the fishing pier, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a heard only Snow Bunting. There were birds inside the harbor too, including a lone lingering Horned Grebe, a handful of Greater and Lesser Scaup, and what looks like a young male Ring-necked Duck.
I spent about an hour at Montrose this morning, November 9, mostly looking at the lake from the fishing pier. Lake Michigan was nice and calm and the visibility was excellent but there wasn’t much out there, either on the water or flying by. I did have a first cycle Great Black-backed Gull, probably one of Steve Spitzer’s birds from Loyola, a Common Merganser, my first of the season, and a lone Snow Bunting. Walking back I found a first cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull on the beach, again probably a Steve bird from Loyola. I didn’t look for the Red-necked Grebe but others said it was still in the harbor.
I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, mostly looking at the lake and checking the harbor. I thought there might be migrating waterfowl, loons, and grebes, but there was very little movement on the lake. Migrant passerines were almost non-existent. I did see a few interesting birds though. Here’s my partial list:
White-winged Scoter – ~12, most in the lake off the end of the fishhook pier
Long-tailed Duck – 3 moving north
Northern Pintail – 7 migrating north
Lesser Scaup – ~250, almost all in or just outside the harbor
Greater Scaup – ~10, in or just outside the harbor
Redhead – ~25
Hooded Merganser – 2 moving north
Common Merganser – Still a few around
Red-throated Loon – 1 in basic type plumage off the end of the fishhook pier
Common Loon – 4 moving north, my first of the year
Horned Grebe – ~10, in various stages of molt and plumages
Great Black-backed Gull – 1 adult flying north close to shore
I had a third or fourth cycle Great Black-backed Gull this morning. The bird flew in from the north, circled a couple of times near the harbor and continued south. Great Black-backed Gulls are very uncommon visitors to Montrose. I also saw the Snow Goose in the still frozen over harbor.