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!
Montrose was hopping this morning with passerines, dominant among them Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers and Swamp Sparrows. Also, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Hermit Thrushes, White-throated and Savannah Sparrows, American Pipit, Cliff Swallow, and a male Scarlet Tanager. Non-passerine highlights include Great Egret, Green Heron, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, and Virginia Rail.
Given the strong west winds I expected the dunes to be full of Short-eared Owls this morning but alas I could only muster one. Other birds seen or heard at Montrose this a.m. include:
Wilson’s Snipe – 1 in the western panne
American Woodcock – 1 flushed from the Magic Hedge
American Pipit – 1 flying over the beach
Lapland Longspur – 3 in the dunes
Snow Bunting – 1 in the dunes
Rusty Blackbird – 1 in the western panne
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
Pine Siskin – 1
White-throated Sparrow – 3
Fox Sparrow – 1
The gusty west winds produced a Short-eared Owl and 9 Franklin’s Gulls this morning, October 29. The owl flushed out of the dunes and the Franklin’s flew south over the east end of the beach. I only spent an hour in the field so I imagine there were more Franklin’s moving. I also had a Greater Yellowlegs on the beach, a Wilson’s Snipe in the dunes, 2 Snow Buntings, and 15 or so Pine Siskins at the point. The Snow Buntings posed obligingly on the fishing pier for a photograph (try to ignore the graffiti).
Karen and I spent a couple hours at Montrose on October 26.
The highlight were a 100 or so Franklin’s Gulls. Most were flying over
and continuing south but a few spent some time on the beach. The largest
flock was about 50 birds, the smallest 4. This is one of my best counts
of Franklin’s Gulls at Montrose ever, a consequence no doubt of the
recent strong westerly winds. In addition to the Franklin’s we had a
number of other birds of interest, including:
American Bittern – 1 in the dunes
Bonaparte’s Gull – 6, all first cycle birds
Short-eared Owl – 2 flying around the dunes and over the lake
Greater Yellowlegs – 1 on the beach
Wilson’s Snipe – 1
American Woodcock – 1
Lapland Longspur – 1
Snow Bunting – 2
American Pipit – 1