American Avocets (click to see the larger version)
Shorebird season is in full swing along the Chicago lakefront. Five American Avocets put in an appearance at Montrose Beach on the morning of July 17. They didn’t stay long but this is the time of the year when Montrose and other Illinois lakefront beaches should be checked regularly for shorebirds. Plus, something even more exciting could show up — a hurricane waif, Brown Booby, Limpkin, or similarly fantastic bird (extralimital Brown Boobies and Limpkins have been showing up in the eastern US). Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Willet (click to see the larger version)
I ran over to Montrose on the evening of July 12 to look for large shorebirds. With reports of Whimbrels and Willets along the Indiana lakefront recently I thought this might be a worthwhile effort. Between all the beach goers and flooding on the beach, shorebird habitat has been in short supply at Montrose. I did find a nice adult Willet at the far east end of the public beach, not far from where the Piping Plovers are nesting. This is a good time of the year to look for large shorebirds like Willets, Whimbrels, and Marbled Godwits at Montrose. I often have better luck with these birds in the evening than the morning as they get flushed off of other beaches and end up at Montrose because it has some habitat for them.
Large Milkweed Bug and Red Milkweed Beetle (click to see the larger version)
Two somewhat similar but not closely related insects, the Large Milkweed Bug (left insect in the composite photo) and the Red Milkweed Beetle. Large Milkweed Bugs are true bugs (order Hemiptera), while Red Milkweed Beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, the largest order of insects. Both species are obligate milkweed consumers, a distinction they share with the caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly. And like the Monarch, they are toxic to predators. Both of these insects can be found at Montrose during the summer by examining clusters of Common Milkweed. Photographed in July 2019.
Red Admiral (click to see the larger version)
If you plant it they will come. A few years ago the Butterfly Garden at Montrose was boring, low diversity, non-native lawn grass. Since then it has been planted in native wildflowers to attract butterflies, and attract butterflies it has. This magnificent Red Admiral was enjoying the early morning sun (with a little help from Spiderwort) on July 4, 2019. Well, the colors are sorta red, white, and blue.