The city is adding parking meters to the roads at Montrose Point, starting in the summer of 2021. This will include West Montrose Harbor Drive, the road where most birding visitors park. If you don’t want to feed the meters, you can always park west of Lake Shore Drive and walk in. This is what people did when the city limited access to Montrose in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 fears.
Beach Fencing and Dunes Roping
Montrose Dunes roping (click to see the larger version)
In April 2021, the southeast section of Montrose Beach was fenced and parts of Montrose Dunes were roped off. The beach fencing will protect the Piping Plovers and their habitat, should Monty and Rose use this area for nesting when they return. The Dunes roping will allow vegetation to recover and regenerate. Entering these roped areas is prohibited. Note that if Monty and Rose decide to use a different part of Montrose Beach or the Dunes, that area will also be off-limits.
The main entrance to Montrose has been closed a couple of times in the morning since the park reopened in late February. The gate should be open by sunrise but was still locked at 6:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. when I tried driving in in early March. If this happens, drive north to the entrance at Wilson Avenue or Lawrence Avenue and enter there. You can also enter the park at Foster Avenue.
The main entrance to Montrose Point (click to see the larger version)
In late February 2021, Chicago opened its lakefront parks after being closed for almost a year. This includes Montrose Point. Visitors can now drive in and legally park along West Montrose Harbor Drive or West Montrose Avenue. See the Montrose FAQ page for more information.
Herring and Ring-billed Gulls feeding in the algae mat at Montrose Beach (click to see the larger version)
The title of this post sounds like the title of a horror or monster movie — “Return of the Green Gunk!” On December 14 I was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive algae* mat at the east end of Montrose Beach. This algae mat developed when a powerful early winter storm churned up Lake Michigan and dumped large amounts of the stuff on the beach. I also noticed a group of Herring and Ring-billed Gulls picking through the algae for food. From what I could tell, and from what I’ve seen in the past, the gulls were hunting crayfish that washed in with the algae. Why does this matter? Because groups of active, feeding gulls attract more gulls that could include something unusual. Now that winter is here, there are multiple, possible rare gulls to consider. The algae could also attract a rare shorebird like a Purple Sandpiper or Red Phalarope. So if you venture out to Montrose this winter don’t forget to check the beach, and if there’s an algae mat, check it too. Once the beach gets covered in ice the algae mat won’t be accessible to gulls and shorebirds.
Only a birder gets excited about algae mats, right?
The eBird database will be unavailable from 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on November 17 until 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on November 19. You won’t be able to enter your sightings or view checklists using the ebird.org website. You can still enter your sightings with the eBird Mobile app and submit them when eBird is back up. This article from Cornell has more information – Cornell Lab Scheduled Database Maintenance.
Shorebirds and Algae (click to see the larger version)
Green gunk has returned to Montrose Beach. Green gunk is just algae that has washed up and accumulated on the beach. Shorebirds love to feed in this stuff. This morning, July 26, there were ~30 Sanderlings, ~6 Semipalmated Sandpipers, a fresh juvenile Least Sandpiper, 4 Semipalmated Plovers, plus the local Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers feeding in the gunk inside the protected area at he east end of the beach.