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.
Black-necked Stilts (click to see the larger version)
The 2 Black-necked Stilts seen on May 27, 2016 represent just the second record of this species for Montrose (the first occurring in May 2015). Black-necked Stilts have been moving north for a couple decades and now breed in Illinois, so the recent sightings from Montrose aren’t surprising.
Franklin’s Gulls (click to see the larger version)
I spent a couple hours at Montrose this morning, May 27. Most of the passerines from earlier in the week must have flown north with the south winds, which isn’t surprising. The waterbirding however was much better. Two Black-necked Stilts and 2 immature Franklin’s Gulls were on the beach early in the morning. The stilts were in the fluddle on the beach, working west and feeding along the way. They flew to the east and disappeared after a little while. The Franklin’s Gulls didn’t stay long either. Black-necked Stilt is an accidental species at Montrose, with just one previous record.
The real excitement came when a group of Double-crested Cormorants flew over that contained a noticeably smaller cormorant. We could tell the bird was brownish, so it was probably an immature, and based on size likely a Neotropic, a species unrecorded at Montrose. The bird was too far away and the flock was moving too fast to make out any other plumage features. I’m not going to add it to the list of birds seen at Montrose because of the distance involved but I think it was a Neotropic.
A Worm-eating Warbler was clearly the best bird at Montrose this
morning, May 22. I first heard it singing in the peripheral plantings
just about due south of the Magic Hedge. I initially passed the bird off
as a Chipping Sparrow and even walked by it a couple times without
visually confirming the identification. On my last pass I decided to
actually look at the bird and my Chipping Sparrow morphed into a
Worm-eating Warbler. The bird hung around for a while and multiple
people were able to see it. There are only a handful of records of
Worm-eating Warbler for Montrose and this is the first one I’ve seen
there. I hope some of the photographers got good shots of it.
Say’s Phoebe. Photo by Ron Blazek (click to see the larger version)
A Say’s Phoebe was at Montrose this morning, May 16. The bird was found in the southeastern corner of the Dunes and worked its way to the western panne where it was last seen. This is the second record of Say’s Phoebe from Montrose, the first coming from May 11, 2001. Say’s Phoebe is casual in Illinois (3 to 7 accepted records in the last 10 years).
Slaty-backed Gull in Montrose Harbor. Photo by Kanae Hirabayashi. (click to see a larger version)
An adult Slaty-backed Gull was at Montrose Harbor this morning, January 30. I first noticed the bird sitting on the water at the west end of the harbor around 7:45. I had a hunch it was a Slaty-backed due to the large size, dark upperpart color, heavy head and neck streaking, and prominent white tertial crescent. When the bird flew I could see several additional clinching field marks, including the broad white trailing edge to the wing and “string of pearls” primary pattern. The bird settled down on the ice for the next 45 minutes or so and several people were able to see and photograph it. It seemed quite content but at 8:45 it got up and flew to the north and didn’t come back. This is the 340th species and 20th gull for Montrose.
I had a few other things at Montrose this a.m., including an adult Thayer’s Gull in the harbor, 6 flyby White-winged Scoters, and the 2 continuing female type Ruddy Ducks in the lake south of the handicapped parking lot. Some kind of small fish are running in the harbor, which probably explains why there have been so many Herring and Ring-billed Gulls around, and why the Slaty-backed showed up.