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of Robert D. Hughes

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Birding Montrose Point

What to See and When | Other Waterbirds

Franklin's Gull
Franklin's Gull

The open waters of Lake Michigan, the beach, the boat harbor, and even the small pond at the north end of Waveland Golf Course can be very productive for a variety of waterbirds.

In April and again in November, Common Loons can be seen flying past the Point, especially during strong onshore winds. Red-throated Loons are also seen occasionally, usually in late fall and early spring.

Among the grebes, Horned and Pied-billed are regular visitors in spring and fall, and can sometimes be found close to shore or even inside Montrose Harbor. Red-necked, Eared, and Western Grebes have also been recorded on several occasions.

Large flights of Double-crested Cormorants are regular at Montrose, particularly in April and September. They also occur inside Montrose Harbor in small numbers.

Though lacking a marsh, all of the heron species recorded in Illinois have been seen at Montrose. Black-crowned Night-Herons are often seen flying up and down the lakefront during summer, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons have been found around the small pond at the north end of Waveland Golf Course in August and September. The hedges and open areas at Montrose Point can be very good for Least and American Bitterns. The Least is invariably found in May, and the American can be found in April and May and again in September and October.

Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern

Incredibly, all of the rails recorded in Illinois have been found at Montrose. Sora and Virginia Rail are seen every year and King Rails have been found on several occasions. Rails find the grass and underbrush in the Meadow especially attractive.

Not surprisingly, 19 species of gulls have been seen at Montrose. Laughing Gulls are regular, especially in the spring, and Franklin's Gulls are regular in the fall. Occasionally, large numbers of Franklin's are seen along the lakefront in late October and November when there is a strong west wind. Thayer's, Great Black-backed, and Glaucous Gulls can be found in late fall and winter, and Iceland Gulls are also sometimes seen. Though less common in recent years, Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be found at almost any time of the year.

Of the terns, Caspian is regular from April to September, with the largest numbers occurring in late April and early May. In May and again in August and September, Common and Forster's Terns can be seen migrating along the lakefront or even roosting on the beach with gulls. Though much rarer now than in past years Black Terns are sometimes seen, particularly in late summer.

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