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.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose today, February 24. It was a cold morning and the east winds off Lake Michigan made it feel even chillier. I ended up with 23 species for my effort, not particularly impressive, but I did have a few bona fide spring migrants. My highlights include
Cackling Geese – 4 flying north with a group of Canada Geese
White-winged Scoters – 2, 1 in the harbor and the other near the end of the fishing pier
Northern Pintail – 6 flying north over the lake
Gadwall – 3 with the pintails
Great Black-backed Gull – 1 first/second cycle bird at the beach
The fishing pier is now ice-free and the massive ice shelves on the beach have disappeared. Our local wintering Snowy Owl is probably not too thrilled about this.
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 Iceland 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.
Montrose was surprisingly birdy this morning, November 8, with several unexpected finds. I ended up with 35 species in about 1.5 hours of birding, which isn’t too shabby considering the date. Best were a Cattle Egret and 5 Franklin’s Gulls. The egret was flying around the beach and Dunes early in the morning. I think it landed briefly on the beach, but was flying north over Lake Michigan the last time I saw it. Cattle Egret is an unusual bird for Montrose; we don’t see them every year. This has been a good fall for them in the upper Midwest, so maybe this sighting shouldn’t have been surprising.
Three of the 5 Franklin’s Gulls were at the west end of the beach early in the morning and were still there when I left. The other 2 were flybys. This hasn’t been a good fall for Franklin’s Gulls along the Lake Michigan lakefront, probably because we haven’t had many storms with strong west winds. Link to eBird checklist below.
A first cycle Franklin’s Gull was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful early morning visit to Montrose today, October 12. Mid to late October is an excellent time to see Franklin’s Gulls at Montrose, particularly when the wind is from the west and strong, the stronger the better.
Lesser Black-backed Gull (click to see the larger version)
A second cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Montrose Beach on August 23. Another or the same Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Montrose on July 11. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare but regular at Montrose.