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.

Olive-sided Flycatcher, August 14, 2019

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)

Shorebirds have been moving south for over a month in Chicago but the first passerine (songbird) migrants are just starting to appear. This Olive-sided Flycatcher was taking a break at Montrose on August 14. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

The travels of birds are extraordinary. Our Olive-sided Flycather could have come anywhere from Northern Wisconsin to Alaska and will spend the winter in Central or South America. And it will keep making this journey for as long as it’s alive. Not bad for a creature that weighs a little more than an ounce.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58982673

Piping Plover Update (good news, mostly)

Piping Plover

Rose, the mama Piping Plover (click to see the larger version)

Our Piping Plovers are now the proud parents of 2 chicks. A third chick hatched but died recently for unknown reasons. Monty, the papa, is doing an outstanding job of defending his kids from gulls and other shorebirds. Also, Rose, the mother, disappeared for a few days but returned on July 29. With a little luck, the chicks will survive, grow up, and fly away in a few weeks.

American Avocet, July 19, 2019

American Avocet, Piping Plover, and Semipalmated Plover

American Avocet, Piping Plover, and Semipalmated Plover (click to see the larger version)

Another hot, steamy summer day and another American Avocet at Montrose Beach. This one, an adult male, was working the public beach and protected area early on the morning of July 19. Also note the photobombing Semipalmated Plover and Piping Plover in the lower left corner of the photo. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58290370

American Avocets, July 17, 2019

American Avocets

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.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58246132

Willet, July 12, 2019

Willet

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.

Milkweed Insects

Large Milkweed Bug and Red Milkweed Beetle

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.