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.
Wilson Avenue Crib (click to see the larger version)
If you’ve been to Montrose you’ve probably noticed the structure due east on the horizon that looks like it’s floating on Lake Michigan. This is the Wilson Avenue Crib and it was part of the water distribution system for Chicago. The cribs pump water to the filtration plants, also along the lakefront. The filtration plants purify the water and distribute it to the city and nearby suburbs for consumption. The Wilson Avenue Crib is no longer operational but several species of birds are making good use of it. The dark shapes in the photos are Double-crested Cormorants and they nest on the crib. State endangered Peregrine Falcons have also nested there.
I took this photo with my digital camera and telescope in June 2019, a technique known as digiscoping. The Wilson Avenue Crib is about 2 miles offshore.
Piping Plover on nest (click to see the larger version)
After the eggs from their first nesting attempt were removed by biologists, Rose and Monty, the intrepid Piping Plover pair, picked up their show and moved it a few hundred yards east to a new area. This is a more propitious location, both above the flood zone and away from people. One bird on the nest is visible in this photo (inside the protective cage). A couple of eggs have been laid. Note the photobombing Bank Swallow on the rope.
Rose, the female Piping Plover (click to see the larger version)
Hope is the thing with eggs. A pair of Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach has ended the long drought of nesting Piping Plovers in Chicago. As of June 10, Rose, the female, has laid 3 eggs in a nest on the public portion of the beach just northwest of the Beach House. The area has been cordoned off by authorities to protect the birds and their nesting effort, and a cage has been placed over the nest to further protect the eggs. With a little luck and a lot of help from volunteers, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, the eggs will hatch within a few weeks. Stay tuned.
White-rumped Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
White-rumped Sandpipers are late spring migrants in the United States. In fact, they’re one of the last migrants seen in the spring, with some still moving north well into June. This bird, one of two White-rumpeds present, was taking a break at Montrose Beach on June 5. Note the reddish base to the lower mandible, a field mark that helps distinguish White-rumpeds from other small sandpipers.
Just because the calendar says it’s June doesn’t mean migration comes to a screeching halt. Early June can be good for shorebirds, flycatchers, late warblers, and other stragglers, and Montrose is a great place to see this late spring migration. Such was the case on June 1. I tallied 64 species in 3 hours of morning birding. My highlights include
Semipalmated Sandpiper (4)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (4)
Alder Flycatcher (2)
Blue Jay (20)
Swainson’s Thrush (4)
12 species of warblers, including Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white, Mourning, Connecticut, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Canada, and Wilson’s
Three Franklin’s Gulls stopped at Montrose Beach on May 23. Two of these birds were immatures, the other an adult in alternate plumage. Breeding plumaged adult Franklin’s Gulls are always a treat to see; it’s by far the rarest age and plumage we get at Montrose. Franklin’s Gulls are uncommon but regular visitors to Montrose in spring and fall. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.