Common Nighthawk. Photo by M. Ferguson (click to see the larger version)
The sweet season has commenced. Days like May 9 make suffering through Chicago winters worth it. I don’t know if the volume of birds was better than the fantastic weekend of May 4-5 but the variety certainly was. I tallied 95 species in about 3.5 hours of morning birding, my best spring total to date (according to eBird, over 120 species were reported). My highlights include 3 Black-bellied Plovers, Willet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common and Forster’s Terns, a roosting Common Nighthawk, 5 woodpeckers, 19 species of warblers (Pine, Northern Parula, and Blue-winged being the best), and Clay-colored Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist below.
California Gull on the right, with Herring Gulls (click to see the larger version)
Continuing the trend of unusual gulls this spring, a first cycle type California Gull joined the Herring Gulls at Montrose Beach on May 4. California Gulls are rare at Montrose, with only about four previous records. Also, this is the first immature bird for us, the other records consisting of adults. I identified it as a California Gull by the darker gray upperpart feathers, rounder head, and downturned gape crease. More photos and a detailed description are at the link below.
Miserable weather often means fantastic birding at Montrose. Such was the case on May 2. The temperature never got out of the 40s, drizzle was a constant companion, and it started raining before I left. Parka and Polartec weather in May. I tallied 79 species in 3.5 hours, my best day of the spring so far, highlighted by 2 Whimbrels, 8 Willets, a Piping Plover, and 13 species of warblers, including Pine, Hooded, and Blue-winged. I also had a number of new birds for the year. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Lake Michigan was alive with birds this morning, April 27. Red-breasted Mergansers, Caspian Terns, and Double-crested Cormorants were conspicuous in their abundance. I didn’t see any unusual large shorebirds but I did have a pale third cycle type Iceland Gull on the beach and a second cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull flying around the fishing pier. Also, a late Red-throated Loon going north. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Caspian Terns have invaded the Chicago lakefront in force. I counted over 300 at Montrose Beach on April 25, possibly the largest number of Caspian Terns I’ve ever recorded at Montrose. This group was taking a break in the fluddle on the beach. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Long-billed Curlew. Photo by L. Munoz. (click to see the larger version)
This is turning out to be a fantastic spring for rarities at Montrose. A Long-billed Curlew graced Montrose Beach on the morning of April 13. The bird flew off after a few minutes but returned a short while later before departing again for good. This is the first Illinois record since 1985 and a new species for Montrose, bringing the site total to a whopping 345.