Northern Harrier (click to see the larger version)
The Northern Harriers put on quite a show on October 23. I counted 16, all southbound flybys, in about 2 hours of morning birding. Most were female/immature type birds, like the individual pictured here. Several were coming in low off Lake Michigan and flying right over the beach and dunes (and me). Other birds seen include Short-eared Owl, 3 Surf Scoters, Franklin’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls, Merlin, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, and Purple Finch. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below. October rocks!
Highlights from October 12 were an American Avocet that almost became brunch for 2 of the local Peregrine Falcons, and this male Merlin that took a break from terrorizing songbirds long enough to have his pic taken. I ended up with 47 species in 3 hours of birding. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Montrose Point was birdy on the morning of September 30. I ended up with 63 species in about 3 hours, my highest single-day total there this month. A little over 70 species were reported on eBird. Two of my better finds were a late juvenile Baird’s Sandpiper (by eBird standards) and a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk taking a bath in a flooded parking lot. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Wilson Avenue Crib (click to see the larger version)
If you’ve been to Montrose you’ve probably noticed the structure due east on the horizon that looks like it’s floating on Lake Michigan. This is the Wilson Avenue Crib and it was part of the water distribution system for Chicago. The cribs pump water to the filtration plants, also along the lakefront. The filtration plants purify the water and distribute it to the city and nearby suburbs for consumption. The Wilson Avenue Crib is no longer operational but several species of birds are making good use of it. The dark shapes in the photos are Double-crested Cormorants and they nest on the crib. State endangered Peregrine Falcons have also nested there.
I took this photo with my digital camera and Questar telescope in June 2019, a technique known as digiscoping. To read more about how I digiscope, see the Digiscoping with a Questar page on my main birding website, The Orniphile. The Wilson Avenue Crib is about 2 miles offshore.
Eastern Wood-Pewee (click to see the larger version)
It was so cold at Montrose this morning, October 13, Lake Michigan was steaming. This is a common sight in winter but rare at this time of the year, caused by a large difference in temperature between the water and air (about 30 degrees today early in the morning). Birding was productive, with lots of expected mid fall migrants like Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Hermit Thrushes, plus a few late warblers and other passerines. Many insect-eating passerines were feeding on the ground or close to it because of the cold. I ended up with 56 species in about 4 hours. Best birds were Semipalmated Sandpiper, Merlin, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Nelson’s Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Savannah Sparrow (click to see the larger version)
I took advantage of the break in the snowstorm to get some birding in this morning, December 11. I don’t expect to see much at this time of the year, but I did have a few surprises, highlighted by a late Savannah Sparrow near the mouth of the harbor. I also had an immature Northern Harrier in the Dunes, 15 Redheads, 2 American Pipits that probably wish they had flown south, and a Rusty Blackbird. Several American Pipits have been holding on in the native planting area for a few weeks. Link to my eBird checklist below.