Author Archives: rhughes

About rhughes

Robert D. Hughes lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. His professional background is in Web site management and front-end Web development. He also writes about Web development issues and works with Joomla! CMS. When he isn't sitting in front of a computer he's out in the field looking for and photographing birds and other critters.

Short-eared Owl, Nelson’s and Le Conte’s Sparrows, October 19, 2017

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal (click to see the larger version)

I spent a couple hours birding Montrose this morning, October 19, and it was inexplicably good. By inexplicable I mean no cold front passed the night before and no cold front is expected to pass until next week, so I don’t know why today was so productive. The increase in sparrow activity compared to yesterday was noticeable – today may have been “the” sparrow day of the fall at Montrose for me. I ended up with 54 species, highlighted by

Black-crowned Night-Heron – 3 immature birds flying around the point. Getting late.
Baird’s Sandpiper – the continuing juvenile bird
Semipalmated Sandpiper – the continuing first cycle bird
Franklin’s Gull – 2 first cycle birds
Short-eared Owl – 2 in the dunes
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 2, 1 in the dunes, the other in the native planting area
Nelson’s Sparrow – 1 in the native planting area

The algae mat at the east end of the beach continues to attract good numbers of shorebirds and ducks (where was this mat 2 months ago when we needed it?)

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40010343

October 15, 2017

I spent a few hours birding Montrose this morning, October 15. There were good numbers of birds around, especially shorebirds. In fact, I had my best shorebirding day all fall (in terms of individuals) today. I ended up with 49 species total, highlighted by:

Surf Scoter – 3 immatures in the surf at the east end of the beach
Virginia Rail – 1 in the dunes
Sora – 1 in the dunes
Sanderling – ~30
Dunlin – ~30
Baird’s Sandpiper – juvenile
Pectoral Sandpiper – 2 juveniles
Greater Yellowlegs – 28
Lesser Yellowlegs – 1
Forster’s Tern – 3
Merlin – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 2
Lapland Longspur – 1
5 warblers – Yellow-rumped, Palm, Black-throated Green, Orange-crowned, and Tennessee
Bobolink – 1

The yellowlegs and Dunlin were using the large fluddle that has reformed on the beach, and the other shorebirds were feeding in the extensive algae on the beach at the shoreline. Unfortunately, the unleashed dogs running up and down the beach kept flushing most of the shorebirds; by the time I left few shorebirds were left.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39934745

Buff-breasted and Stilt Sandpipers and Connecticut Warbler, September 3, 2017

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)

I spent a couple hours at Montrose this morning, September 3. The highlight for me, hands down, was the cooperative juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the beach. I haven’t seen a Buffy at Montrose in a few years, and I hadn’t seen one yet this fall, so I was fairly excited (thanks for the text, Fran M). The bird was working the north side of the fluddle with a few other shorebirds, including a young Stilt Sandpiper, another good shorebird for Montrose. My passerine highlight was a Connecticut Warbler in the dune willows. These willows have proven, both spring and fall, to be an excellent migrant trap. I ended up with “only” 39 species, but when 2 of those are Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Connecticut Warbler you shut up and count your blessings.

American Golden-Plovers, August 31, 2017

American Golden-Plovers

American Golden-Plovers (click to see the larger version)

I made a late afternoon run to Montrose today, August 31, to see if anything fun and interesting was on the beach. I didn’t have anything as exciting as the recent Parasitic Jaeger or Buff-breasted Sandpiper, but I did find 3 adult American Golden-Plovers on the public portion of the beach. The birds were initially near the plastic boardwalk but flushed and relanded a short distance away. A fair number of people were using the beach this afternoon, so I had a feeling the birds would be jumpy. Sure enough, when an unleashed dog got too close they picked up and flew off to the north. Typical. And frustrating. I also had a juvenile Baird’s Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, and Sanderlings. The good news is that Lake Montrose has reformed and should be attractive to migrant shorebirds as long as it lasts (Lake Montrose is the fluddle that forms on the public beach after a heavy rain). This is prime time for Red Knots and Whimbrels along Lake Michigan.

Willets, August 14, 2017

Willet

Willet (click to see the larger version)

I went over to Montrose late this afternoon, August 14, to look for the Stilt Sandpipers seen earlier in the day. They must have flown off, but in their place I found 5 juvenile Willets in the fluddle at the west end of the beach. This fluddle has been very attractive to migrant shorebirds in the past. It’s disappearing fast and I imagine it will be completely gone in a few days without rain. I also had Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. Here’s to a good soaking rain in the next few days.

Piping Plover and Swainson’s Thrush, July 23, 2017

Piping Plover

Piping Plover (click to see the larger version)

A banded juvenile Piping Plover has been hanging around Montrose Beach for a few days. This morning I saw it in the fluddle on the public beach (fluddles are pools of water that form after heavy rains and are attractive to migrating shorebirds). As of this post, the source location of this bird has not been determined. Several banded Piping Plovers that have appeared on the Illinois Lake Michigan lakefront in the past have been traced to the population from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan. Perhaps that is where this bird is from. After the plover, my next best bird was an early Swainson’s Thrush, a portent of things to come in a few weeks. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38277722