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.
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.
Robert D. Hughes
Header Photo: White-winged Scoters from Montrose Harbor
The long-staying Piping Plover was still at Montrose Beach on November 22. This is now the latest Piping Plover record for Illinois, the previous late record being November 21 from Mendota in 1982. Most of November has been unusually cold in Chicago, with high temperatures in the 30s and nighttime lows even colder for the last couple weeks. It makes you wonder what the bird has been eating – invertebrate activity must be seriously depressed in such cold conditions. This bird also survived at least one close encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk. We’ll see how long it holds on. Link to my eBird checklist below.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose on Thursday, November 8. The female type Harlequin Duck was inside the fishing pier and the Piping Plover continues on the beach. The Plover has been present for 3 weeks now. My best passerine was a very late Swainson’s Thrush near the Magic Hedge. A strange mix of birds for November. I ended up with 43 species for my effort. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Baird’s Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
I wasn’t even going to bird this morning (November 4) because of rain in the forecast, but when I looked out my window at 7:30 I saw no rain, so I grabbed my gear and headed over to Montrose. I tallied a whopping 20 species for my effort, unimpressive even by early November standards. But, BUT, 25% of that tally consisted of good birds – Harlequin Duck (off the end of the fishing pier, found by Krzysztof Kurlyowicz), Black Scoter (2 flybys, found by Steve Huggins), Red-necked Grebe (flyby), Piping Plover, and Baird’s Sandpiper. The Baird’s (2 juveniles) represent one of the latest records of this species for Montrose, continuing the trend for late birds started by the Piping Plover.
White-eyed Vireo (click to see the larger version)
When you think of November and the Chicago lakefront, birds like Black-legged Kittiwake, Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck, and Red-throated Loon come to mind, but today’s highlights at Montrose include 2 species that shouldn’t be anywhere near northern Illinois at this time of the year. The Piping Plover found in mid-October was still on the beach. This bird has been present for 2 weeks and doesn’t appear to have any intention of leaving. I’m guessing that 98% of the world’s Piping Plovers are on their wintering grounds now, making this one of the latest Piping Plover records for Illinois.
The other late bird was a White-eyed Vireo (found by Jeff Bilsky). This is the latest White-eyed Vireo for Montrose I know of and one of just a handful of fall records for us (White-eyed Vireos are more or less regular in spring). Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
American White Pelican (click to see the larger version)
Hardly rare in Illinois these days but still unusual along the Chicago lakefront, this American White Pelican flew over Montrose Point on October 21. I’ve only seen a handful of American White Pelicans at Montrose in my 40+ years birding there, so this was exciting.
A very late Piping Plover was at Montrose Beach on October 18. The bird has been present for a couple of days and represents the latest record of this species for Montrose.
While the Piping Plover was the best bird it wasn’t the only goodie. I tallied 59 species in about 3 hours of birding, highlighted by Short-eared Owl, the continuing Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a female Black-throated Blue Warbler. Link to my eBird checklist below.