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.
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 an enjoyable morning at Montrose today, April 1. It was on the chilly side, but the sun was out and the birding was productive. I ended up with 46 species in about 3 hours, highlights including:
White-winged Scoter – group of 9 flying north
Red-throated Loon – group of 4 flying north
Common Loon – 6 flying north
Sandhill Crane – 2 flying south over the point
Bonaparte’s Gull – group of 9 flying north
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 1 in the dunes
Western Meadowlark – 1, seen and heard singing in the dunes
The bird of the day goes to the Western Meadowlark. I’ve only had a couple WEMEs in my 30+ years birding Montrose, so this is a pretty good bird for me. The Sandhill Cranes and Le Conte’s Sparrow were nice bonus birds. 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’m still in waterbird mode, which means I haven’t been paying much
attention to landbirds. This is just as well as the persistent east
winds have put a damper on passerine migration along the lakefront.
Yesterday and today, April 20, I had single Red-throated Loons flying
north past the Point. Yesterday’s bird looked like an adult in nearly
full breeding plumage. Not exactly what I want to see at this time of
the year but I’ll take them.
Other than the loons I saw little else of interest. Red-breasted
Mergansers are still around as are a few Horned Grebes. I had several
large flocks of Double-crested Cormorants winging north too.