October means sparrows at Montrose and Montrose is a great location to see a large variety of them. You’ll have fun sorting through the flocks of White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, and uncommon species like Nelson’s, Le Conte’s, and Harris’s are regular. Nelson’s are best in the marshes in the Dunes known as pannes. Le Conte’s can be found almost anywhere where there’s grass but I’ve had good luck with them in the meadow southeast of the Magic Hedge. Look for Harris’s while you’re sifting through the White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow flocks.
Montrose was on fire with birds on May 19, hands down the best day of the spring. I ended up with 107 species for the day, 103 in the morning and 4 more on a return visit in the afternoon and evening, my second best daily total ever there (over 130 species were reported to eBird for the day, which is about as well as we do). The Magic Hedge lived up to its name and was bursting with warblers, thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers. One of the highlights was a slightly out of place male Least Bittern in the peripheral plantings. We live for days like this. We suffer through Midwestern winters for experiences like this. My highlights include
Piping Plover (2)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (first cycle bird)
Philadelphia Vireo (4)
24 species of warblers including Mourning, Connecticut, Black-throated Blue, and Hooded, plus gobs of Bay-breasted, Magnolias, and Blackpolls
eBird Checklist (morning visit)
eBird Checklist (p.m. visit)
It was so cold at Montrose this morning, October 13, Lake Michigan was steaming. This is a common sight in winter but rare at this time of the year, caused by a large difference in temperature between the water and air (about 30 degrees today early in the morning). Birding was productive, with lots of expected mid fall migrants like Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Hermit Thrushes, plus a few late warblers and other passerines. Many insect-eating passerines were feeding on the ground or close to it because of the cold. I ended up with 56 species in about 4 hours. Best birds were Semipalmated Sandpiper, Merlin, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Nelson’s Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
I spent a couple hours birding Montrose this morning, October 19, and it was inexplicably good. By inexplicable I mean no cold front passed the night before and no cold front is expected to pass until next week, so I don’t know why today was so productive. The increase in sparrow activity compared to yesterday was noticeable – today may have been “the” sparrow day of the fall at Montrose for me. I ended up with 54 species, highlighted by
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 3 immature birds flying around the point. Getting late.
Baird’s Sandpiper – the continuing juvenile bird
Semipalmated Sandpiper – the continuing first cycle bird
Franklin’s Gull – 2 first cycle birds
Short-eared Owl – 2 in the dunes
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 2, 1 in the dunes, the other in the native planting area
Nelson’s Sparrow – 1 in the native planting area
The algae mat at the east end of the beach continues to attract good numbers of shorebirds and ducks (where was this mat 2 months ago when we needed it?)
Montrose wasn’t quite as busy this morning, October 8, as I had hoped. I thought yesterday’s cold front and last night’s northwest winds would translate into the best birding day this fall. Still, it wasn’t bad (admittedly, October doesn’t do bad easily) and I ended up with 61 species in 4.5 hours of birding, which ties my September 24 count for my best day this fall. Noteworthy finds include a late Caspian Tern, a single Nelson’s Sparrow, Sedge Wren, multiple Marsh Wrens, Blue-headed Vireo, and 7 species of warblers. The kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and White-throated Sparrows were fun too. There were also good numbers of Monarchs around. Link to eBird checklist below.
I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, October 1. I would have stayed longer but when the rain started in earnest around 8:30 I called it quits. Birding while wet isn’t an enjoyable experience, even when there are birds to look at. I ended up with 47 species, highlights and link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Merlin – 1
Osprey – 1
Pine Warbler – 1
Northern Parula – 1
Blue-headed Vireo – 1, FOS for me
Nelson’s Sparrow – 1
Marsh Wren – 3
Rusty Blackbird – 2