Cape May Warbler (click to see the larger version)
I’ve been seeing this Cape May Warbler for several days in the same small hawthorn tree. I posted photos online and someone noticed what look like scale insects on the branches. Scale insects are a group of insects that don’t move and suck plant juices for sustenance. You can see them festooning the branches in the lower right corner of the photo — they look like tiny white flakes or clumps of rice grains. Putting two and two together, I’m guessing the Cape May Warbler has been frequenting this particular hawthorn because of the abundant scale insects and the food they provide it. More photos of the Cape May Warbler and scale insects are at my eBird checklist for October 5, URL below.
Longnose Gar in Montrose Harbor (click to see the larger version)
Continuing the fish theme this summer, I saw and photographed a Longnose Gar in Montrose Harbor on July 13. Gar are distinctive as a group but specific identification can be challenging (and I’m hardly a fish expert). My gar was about 2 feet long and had heavy, dark spotting on the body. It was swimming slowly and close to the surface, enabling me to get diagnostic photos. After some research, I narrowed down the options to Spotted and Longnose Gar, and after sharing the photos online several fish experts weighed in and confirmed it as a Longnose Gar. This is the first gar of any kind I’ve seen on Lake Michigan and the most unusual fish I’ve seen at Montrose. More photos are on my Facebook page, URL below. Also, see the Fish Archives on this blog for more fish stories from Montrose.
Black Crappie in Montrose Harbor (click to see the larger version)
The fish in Montrose Harbor are taking advantage of the decrease in human activity and putting on a show. I’ve been checking the north side of the harbor on my morning walks and I’ve noticed an abundance and variety of fish I didn’t notice before Chicago closed the lakefront parks. Some of the different species include Black Crappie (a Montrose first for me), numbers of Smallmouth Bass and Freshwater Drum, and the ever-present Common Carp. Some of the carp are huge. I’ve also seen large schools of smaller fish, either Alewife or Smelt. It’s noteworthy that Montrose Harbor is far from being a pristine body of water. The many boats release gasoline into the water and there’s often garbage floating on the surface and debris in the water. Despite this, aquatic life is thriving. More fish photos from Montrose Harbor are on my Facebook page, URL below. Also, see the Fish Archives on this blog for more fish stories from Montrose.
Painted Lady and Common Buckeye (click to see the larger version)
More October butterfly mania from Montrose. This Painted Lady and Common Buckeye were cheek to jowl, so to speak, on this aster in the Butterfly Garden. Asters are like magnets for attracting nectar-feeding insects. This has been one of the best falls for butterflies I can remember, with hundreds of Monarchs and other leps.
Montrose was bursting with Monarchs on September 27. I’ve been birding and looking at butterflies there for 40 years and I can’t remember seeing so many. They seemed to be dripping off the asters and goldenrods. Obviously they had a good year. Sanctuaries like the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary provide refuge for all kinds of wildlife and prove that nature will thrive when given a chance. Oh yeah, I did some birding too. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
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.