Iceland Gull (click to see the larger version)
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.
Sandhill Cranes (click to see the larger version)
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’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.
Here’s to southwest winds.
I walked out onto the Fishhook Pier this morning, April 13,
to see what if anything was on the water or flying by. It’s getting late
for waterfowl so I wasn’t expecting much but I did have Common and
Red-throated Loons. The Common was on the water on the lakeside and the
Red-throated, a basic type bird, was flying north. I also saw a few
Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal flying around, small numbers of Lesser
Scaup, a couple Bufflehead, and continuing Red-breasted Mergansers and a
few Horned Grebes. I didn’t look very hard for landbirds but with the
east winds I wouldn’t expect to see many.
I spent about 2.5 hours at Montrose this morning, March 19, most of that
time looking at the lake. The visibility was good and there were birds
to look at, both on the water and flying around. Except for blackbirds
and Robins, landbirds were scarce. My highlights (not a complete list):
Gadwall – ~12
American Wigeon – 5
Redhead – ~30
Lesser Scaup – ~20
Greater Scaup – 1
White-winged Scoter – ~20
Common Goldeneye – ~12
Bufflehead – ~7
Common Merganser – 1 adult male flying north
Red-breasted Merganser – ~300
Red-throated Loon – 2 flying north, both in basic type plumage
Common Loon – 1 alternate plumaged bird flying north
Horned Grebe – ~50, most on the lake but a few in the harbor
Eared Grebe – 1 alternate plumaged bird on the lake
Great Black-backed Gull – 1 first cycle
Glaucous/Iceland Gull – 1 near adult flying north
The Eared Grebe was a big surprise. I tried to turn it into something
more expected but everything about the bird said Eared Grebe. Somewhat
surprisingly it was in full alternate plumage; most of the Horned Grebes
today were still in basic plumage or transitioning into alternate
plumage. I also had a meadowlark in the Dunes that looked good for a
Western but I let it go.
I did a brief lakewatch from the end of the fishing pier at Montrose this morning, April 19. There weren’t many birds moving but I did have 2 basic type Red-throated Loons flying north not far offshore. I think it’s getting late for this species. I also had numbers of Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers on the lake. Landbirds were scarce.