You may have never seen a Beaver at Montrose but you’ve almost certainly noticed the damage they’ve done if you’ve been to the Dunes. It’s hard to miss. Many of the willows along the shore at the east end of the beach have been gnawed to stumps by the busy rodents. Birders like checking these willows because they’re the first line of trees migrating warblers and other passerines encounter at Montrose during fall migration. Beavers are interesting animals but we’d hate to lose the beach willows as a migrant trap. The photo shows the damage I’m referring to.
On June 23 I saw an indolent Beaver lounging along the inlet next to the fishing pier, munching on a twig. In the 40 years I’ve been birding Montrose this is only the third or fourth Beaver I’ve seen there. I’m always struck by how massive they are, like a Muskrat on steroids. The variety of wildlife that finds its way to Montrose is remarkable. In addition to Beavers, we’ve recorded White-tailed Deer, Muskrat, Opossum, Coyote, Red Fox, Striped Skunk, and Raccoons. Montrose isn’t just for the birds.
Montrose isn’t good for just birds. I found this Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) roosting in a tree on May 24. See, bats really do hang upside down. Thanks to my Facebook friends for identifying this fellow.
The best bird this morning wasn’t even a bird but a Beaver. I saw this one swimming south in Lake Michigan, hugging the fishing pier. I’m always surprised how big Beavers are when I see them in the wild; I’d say this one was 2.5 feet long and maybe 40 pounds. There really isn’t any suitable Beaver habitat at Montrose so I think most pass through and don’t stay long, though there is evidence in the form of chewed branches that they use the Dunes.
I’ve been seeing migrating bats at Montrose for the last few weeks now. This morning, September 7, I had about 10 come in off the lake while I was standing at the east end of Montrose Beach. A couple landed on the light tower but most continued flying south over the beach and dunes and landed somewhere in the wooded area of the point. This is fairly typical behavior. Since I can’t identify bats in flight I have no idea which species I’ve been seeing, but most fall into 2 categories – large with dark underparts and small with pale brown underparts. In the past the local Peregrine Falcons would perch on the light tower at this time of the year and predate the bats as they were coming in off the lake in the morning. For whatever reason they don’t do this anymore. This morning I found a bat that I believe is a Silver-haired roosting on the side of a concrete light pole at the south end of the beach. A more thorough search of the point would almost certainly turn up more.
I spent about 45 minutes scanning the lake and beach from the fishhook pier at Montrose early this morning. Shorebirds continue to be few and far between. The best I could manage were 1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, and a heard only Greater Yellowlegs. Just after dawn I had 2 Osprey fly south over the point. One of these came in off the lake and flew low, right over the beach. I also had about 6 bats come in off the lake. This is the time of year to see migrating bats at Montrose.