Thirty-eight species of shorebirds have been recorded at Montrose and of this 38 about 28 are regular and occur each year. We don’t get huge numbers however, usually no more than a few dozen individuals during the height of shorebird migration in May and August. What we lack in volume we more than make up for with great, close-up views. Look at the photo of the American Golden-Plover with this post. It’s from Montrose Beach and you can see how close the bird came to the photographer. It illustrates how tame and approachable these shorebirds can be. It’s also one reason why Montrose Beach is so popular with bird photographers. To see more Montrose shorebird pics on this blog, try a keyword search for “shorebirds”.
August is the best month for shorebirds but most of the regular August shorebirds occur in September, especially the first half of the month. As of September 4, we’ve had Red Knot, Baird’s Sandpipers, and an American Golden-Plover, plus several of the more common species. Though none have been reported, September is also good for White-rumped Sandpipers, so keep checking the beach this month.
Shorebirding Tip: Don’t forget to check the fishing pier while you’re at the beach. Shorebirds will use the pier for feeding and resting.
Shorebird migration may be past peak but that doesn’t mean shorebird migration is over. Six species were at Montrose Beach on September 22, including
American Golden-Plover – 1 juvenile
Black-bellied Plover – 7 juveniles
Killdeer – 2
Pectoral Sandpiper – 3 juveniles
Least Sandpiper – 4
Lesser Yellowlegs – 2
A number of other shorebirds occur at this time of the year, including Dunlin (expected) and Long-billed Dowitcher (rare), and later in the fall Purple Sandpiper and Red Phalarope are possible. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
September 22, 2020
We had a nice variety of shorebirds at Montrose Beach on September 3, highlighted by a pair of adult American Golden-Plovers, an adult Baird’s Sandpiper, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, and an American Avocet. The fluddle briefly reformed on the public beach after overnight rains, providing valuable habitat. These birds were probably moving ahead of a cold front expected to pass later in the day. Checking the beach throughout the day could pay off. More photos are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
September 3, 2020
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, September 20, to look for the juvenile American Golden-Plover reported earlier in the day. I found the bird at the west end of the beach, standing and walking among beachgoers. It seemed content, despite all the people using the beach. American Golden-Plovers are uncommon but regular fall visitors to Montrose.