Cackling and Canada Geese (click to see the larger version)
Late January is the slowest time of the year for birding at Montrose. Fall migration is over and spring migration won’t start for two or three weeks at the earliest. If you see 20 species in a day in the middle of winter you’re doing well. January 2023 hasn’t been any different than previous Januarys, except perhaps for the milder weather, but we have had a few interesting sightings. Two Cackling Geese are hanging out with the large wintering Canada Goose flock. Look for them wherever the Canadas are, like the harbor or at the north end of the Marovitz Golf Course. The smaller, shorter necked, and stubbier billed Cacklers really stand out among their larger cousins.
Red-throated Loons are regular in winter in small numbers along the Illinois Lake Michigan lakefront. On January 22 one was resting on the lake a few hundred yards offshore from the end of the fishing pier. Red-throated Loon is the default winter loon on Lake Michigan. Your best bet for seeing them at Montrose is from the fishing pier.
Photos of the Cackling Geese and Red-throated Loon are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
January 23, 2023
Snowy Owl (click to see the larger version)
A second March Snowy Owl made an appearance on the 25th. Ironically, it was on the end of the fishing pier in the exact same spot as the March 15th bird. Snowy Owls love to roost on the pier – always give it a good scan late fall through early spring for them. Other interesting birds include a flyby Red-throated Loon and 27 White-winged Scoters. Also, Red-breasted Merganser numbers are starting to pick up on Lake Michigan. The males are doing their elaborate dip and bow display to impress the females. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
March 25, 2022
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.