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It’s (Mostly) About the Birds

Welcome to my blog about birding Montrose Point in Chicago. I created this blog to report some of my recent sightings from Montrose. I’ll also write about non-Montrose bird sightings from time to time. Thanks for visiting and good birding. Unless stated otherwise, all images and content were created by and are the property of Robert D. Hughes; any unauthorized use is prohibited.

Questions or comments? Direct them to Robert D. Hughes.

About Me

Robert Hughes

RDH

I’ve been birding since 1978 and much of that time has been spent at Montrose. I’ve never lived far from Montrose so it’s always been easy for me to bird there before or after school or work. You could say that Montrose has been my obsession and love, and sometimes my disappointment.

I was born, raised, and currently live in Chicago. My professional background is in webmastering, front-end Web development, and content management. When I’m not working I apply my passion for communication to promoting the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary through social media and this blog. You could say I’m a Web guy at heart.

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What’s New

May 19, 2019 was a banner day at Montrose. I tallied 107 species, my second best one-day effort ever. To read about this exciting day, follow this link.

A Long-billed Curlew graced Montrose Beach on April 13, 2019. This is a new species for Montrose, number 345. To read more about this extraordinary sighting, follow this link. To see a list of the birds recorded at Montrose, refer to the Montrose List page.

Header Photo: White-winged Scoters from Montrose Harbor

Franklin’s Gulls, May 23, 2019

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull (click to see the larger version)

Three Franklin’s Gulls stopped at Montrose Beach on May 23. Two of these birds were immatures, the other an adult in alternate plumage. Breeding plumaged adult Franklin’s Gulls are always a treat to see; it’s by far the rarest age and plumage we get at Montrose. Franklin’s Gulls are uncommon but regular visitors to Montrose in spring and fall. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56650147

Abbondanza!, May 19, 2019

Least Bittern

Least Bittern (click to see the larger version)

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
Least Bittern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo – 4
Clay-colored Sparrow
Nelson’s Sparrow
Yellow-breasted Chat
24 species of warblers including Mourning, Connecticut, Black-throated Blue, and Hooded, plus gobs of Bay-breasted, Magnolias, and Blackpolls

eBird Checklist (morning visit)
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56488818

eBird Checklist (p.m. visit)
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56512714

Lesser Black-backed Gulls, May 13, 2019

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull (click to see the larger version)

I ran over to Montrose on the afternoon of May 13 to check the beach for gulls, terns, and shorebirds. Montrose Beach has been excellent this spring, thanks in part to efforts by Chicago Park District security to keep unleashed dogs off the public beach. I was surprised to see so many Lesser Black-backed Gulls – I counted at least 5, 3 first cycle birds and 2 second/third cycle type birds. I also saw a first cycle and adult Iceland Gull. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so many LBBGs at one time at Montrose. My eBird report has more photos; follow the link below to see them.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56250182

The Sweet Season, May 9, 2019

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk. Photo by M. Ferguson (click to see the larger version)

The sweet season has commenced. Days like May 9 make suffering through Chicago winters worth it. I don’t know if the volume of birds was better than the fantastic weekend of May 4-5 but the variety certainly was. I tallied 95 species in about 3.5 hours of morning birding, my best spring total to date (according to eBird, over 120 species were reported). My highlights include 3 Black-bellied Plovers, Willet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common and Forster’s Terns, a roosting Common Nighthawk, 5 woodpeckers, 19 species of warblers (Pine, Northern Parula, and Blue-winged being the best), and Clay-colored Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56042131

Whimbrels, Piping Plover, Hooded Warbler, and More, May 2, 2019

Piping Plover

Piping Plover (click to see the larger version)

Miserable weather often means fantastic birding at Montrose. Such was the case on May 2. The temperature never got out of the 40s, drizzle was a constant companion, and it started raining before I left. Parka and Polartec weather in May. I tallied 79 species in 3.5 hours, my best day of the spring so far, highlighted by 2 Whimbrels, 8 Willets, a Piping Plover, and 13 species of warblers, including Pine, Hooded, and Blue-winged. I also had a number of new birds for the year. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55669480

Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Red-throated Loon, April 27, 2019

Iceland Gull

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.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55463035