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.
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.
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.
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.
Several Dickcissels have been hanging around Montrose since late May. On June 25 I had 2 singing males that were acting as if on territory, singing from high perches at the east end of the point near the native planting area. This happens every year at Montrose – Dickcissels begin to appear in late spring, hang around for a few weeks, and then disappear by the end of June. I don’t think there’s enough of the right kind of habitat at Montrose for them to breed and attempted or successful nestings have not been confirmed.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose this morning, June 10, and I had several obvious migrants, including Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Mourning Warbler. It’s hard to believe the first southbound migrant shorebirds will start appearing in a few weeks, and the whole thing will begin again. Other birds seen at Montrose this a.m. include
Semipalmated Sandpiper – 8
Great Crested Flycatcher – 1
Magnolia Warbler – 1
Ovenbird – 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1
Dickcissel – 2