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.

King Rail, June 14, 2018

King Rail

King Rail (click to see the larger version)

The King Rail continues at Montrose. This morning, June 14, I saw it walking and feeding in the grass and water next to the fishing pier at the base of the pier. It appeared to be healthy and put on quite a show for me. This is the first time I’ve seen this (presumably) continuing bird. Thanks to Andrew Aldrich for alerting me to its presence.

We also had a few late migrants and surprises, including Mourning and Blackburnian Warblers, Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Wood Thrush, and Bonaparte’s Gull. See? It pays to keep birding into June.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46541351

Barn Owl, June 7, 2018

Barn Owl

Barn Owl (click to see the larger version)

This is why it pays to keep birding in June (and why it also pays to track down complaining blackbirds).

I was at Montrose on June 7, looking for late migrants and any oddball birds that might show up. Montrose holds late migrants better than most places and I try to keep birding it until the second week in June or so. At about 8:00 a.m. I heard some Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds making a major league ruckus over something in the trees not far from where I was. I walked over to where they were, expecting to see a Cooper’s Hawk or something else mundane. When I scanned the trees where the blackbirds were I saw a Barn Owl, looking very agitated. I took a few photos, admired the bird for a bit, and walked away. The blackbirds were mercilessly harassing the owl and I didn’t want to stress it any further. After a few minutes, I stopped hearing the blackbirds complaining, so I don’t know if the owl settled in or flew off to calmer pastures. This is about the 5th Barn Owl I’ve seen at Montrose in the 40 years I’ve been birding there.

The Barn Owl was the highlight today but there were also a few late migrants, mostly flycatchers and shorebirds. See my eBird checklist below for details.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46369301

May 27, 2018 – Still Going

Great Egrets

Great Egrets (click to see the larger version)

Migration is still going on at Montrose, albeit at a slower pace than a week or 2 ago. A check of eBird for today, May 27, shows over 85 species reported, not half-bad for the final days of May. Montrose holds late migrants better than most other places; I keep birding it until about June 10. Some folks bird it through the month. One of my highlights today was this flock of 17 Great Egrets that came winging over.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46065216

Loggerhead Shrike and Bell’s Vireo, May 24, 2018

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by Mike Ferguson. (click to see the larger version)

This continues to be a stellar spring migration at Montrose Point. Today, May 24, was a bit weak for migrants but we made up for the lack of variety with 2 outstanding rarities. The more significant rarity was a Loggerhead Shrike, a bird I haven’t seen there since the 1990’s. That’s right, since the 20th century. The second and lesser rarity was a Bell’s Vireo, a bird that is less than annual at Montrose. Both birds were seen and enjoyed by multiple observers.

Here’s to a final week of May that’s bursting with migrants.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S45982164

Tree Top Feeding Passerines

Passerines feeding on flies

Passerines feeding on flies (click to see the larger version)

If you were at Montrose on May 5 you probably noticed the many passerines feeding in the tops of trees that were leafing out. These birds – Gray Catbirds, Swainson’s Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles, and a variety of warblers and sparrows were feeding on small flies. I also saw a Prothonotary Warbler and White-eyed Vireo doing the same. I’m not sure what kind of flies these were, possibly midges, but it was enjoyable to watch normally ground dwelling birds up high and above eye level.

This photo shows Red-winged Blackbirds, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Gray Catbirds, and a Swainson’s Thrush, all feasting on flies.

May 5, 2018

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird (click to see the larger version)

The hit parade of spring migration wonderfulness continued today, May 5 at Montrose. I ended up with 101 species in 6 hours of birding, only the fifth time I’ve topped 100 species in a day at Montrose. Passerines were abundant, with White-crowned, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows and Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers leading the way. There were also good numbers of Gray Catbirds and Swainson’s Thrushes. Interestingly, many of these birds were feeding in the tops of trees that were just leafing out, apparently on newly emerged midges. Shorebird variety, however, was low, which was surprising given the complete lack of dogs on the beach (thanks to CPD security) and the presence of a large fluddle on the public beach. The large number of people probably didn’t help (there were 2 major events at Montrose today). My highlights include

White-eyed Vireo – 1, feeding in the top of trees, a common theme today
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1, getting late
20 species of warbler, the best being Prothonotary and Golden-winged. Only Yellow-rumped, Palm, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird were common however
Clay-colored Sparrow – 2
Lark Sparrow – 1
Yellow-breasted Chat – 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird – 1
Orchard Oriole – 2

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S45299316