Tag Archives: Northern Harrier

Northern Harriers (and a lot more), October 23, 2019

Northern Harrier

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!

eBird Checklist
October 23, 2019

December 11, 2011

Savannah Sparrow

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.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32965309

May 7, 2016

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
Sandpipers
Lesser Yellowlegs – 13, a nice count for Montrose which tends to be
Tringa repellent
Dowitcher sp. – 1 with the yellowlegs
Great Crested Flycatcher – 1 This and an Eastern Kingbird were my only 2
flycatchers
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 also had a dead Sora on the fishing pier.

Black-legged Kittiwake, November 13, 2015

Black-legged Kittiwake

Black-legged Kittiwake. Photo by Geoff Williamson. (click to see a larger version )

One doesn’t usually associate Black-legged Kittiwakes with strong west winds on the west side of Lake Michigan but this morning a first year Black-legged Kittiwake flew south past Montrose Point, delighting the several people who were conducting a lakewatch at the end of the fishing pier.

Other birds seen on today’s westerlies include about a dozen Franklin’s Gulls (a more expected species on strong west winds), numbers of Bonaparte’s Gulls, several Northern Harriers, an American Woodcock, and a few Lapland Longspurs and Common Redpolls.

May 10, 2014

I spent a few hours at Montrose this morning. It wasn’t as active as May 8 but I still ended up with 86 species, and I had almost 20(!) birds today that I didn’t see on Thursday. Here are my highlights:

Mute Swan – 3 flew in from the south and landed in the lake just off the beach
Northern Shoveler – 3 flying north over the lake
White-winged Scoter – 1 in the lake off the fishhook pier
Red-breasted Merganser – 11
Great Egret – 11, including a group of 8, all flying south
Northern Harrier – 1 immature flying south high over the point
Ruddy Turnstone – 2 on the beach
Laughing Gull – 1 adult flying south over the fishhook pier
Common Tern – 3
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1 female
Yellow-throated Vireo – 1
Philadelphia Vireo – 1
All 5 swallows, with most of the Cliffs and Banks moving south
Marsh Wren – 1
Northern Mockingbird – 1
Blue-winged Warbler – 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1 male
Blackburnian Warbler – 1
Mourning Warbler – 1
Scarlet Tanager – 1 male, flew in off the lake and landed in the dunes
Lark Sparrow – 1, flew in off the lake and landed in the dunes
Dickcissel – 1 singing male

There seemed to be a fair amount of turnover between today and Thursday, with fewer White-crowned Sparrows, Catharus thrushes, Gray Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Kingbirds, and Least Flycatchers today. Warblers are still scant.

October 18, 2011

There were good numbers of birds at Montrose on this cold and gray October morning, especially White-throated Sparrows and kinglets. My highlights include American Pipit, Purple Finch, a Northern Harrier winging south out over Lake Michigan, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk that almost became breakfast for a Cooper’s Hawk. Sharp-shinned Hawks, or Sharpies as they are known in the birding community, are fairly unusual at Montrose. The lowlight was an unidentified sparrow that came in off the lake around dawn and was set upon by a gang of Ring-billed Gulls. This gruesome spectacle occurs fairly regularly in the fall at Montrose as passerines get caught out over Lake Michigan during migration after the sun rises. They then have to run a veritable gauntlet of hungry gulls to make it to shore and safety.

Water Crib

Water Crib

I’ve included a photo of one of the water cribs that lie a couple of miles offshore from Chicago. These cribs pump water from Lake Michigan to filtration plants near Navy Pier and on the south side of the city. The filtration plants purify the water and then deliver it via a system of pipes to the residents and businesses of Chicago, as well as some of the nearby suburbs. One time I was at Montrose and I got into a conversation with an out-of-towner about the crib. This fellow remarked that the crib reminded him of Alcatraz. Perhaps he was speaking from personal experience.