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.
I spent a little over an hour at Montrose Beach this morning, hoping for large shorebirds, especially the kind with long recurved or decurved bills. The only shorebirds I saw were a flyby Ruddy Turnstone, a couple Semipalmated Plovers, a Spotted Sandpiper, and a few Sanderlings. The morning wasn’t a complete bust however. Around dawn a Merlin flew in off the lake with something in its talons. This is my first Merlin of the season at Montrose. I also had about 15 adult Common Terns fly south over the beach. They were coming by in small groups and never landed. A juvenile Forster’s Tern made an appearance too.
An immature Common Tern was at Montrose Beach on July 2 and 3. The bird is probably in its second calendar year and can be identified as a Common Tern by the dark feathering on the leading edge of the inner wing (the so-called carpal bar) and the dark red base to the bill. Common Terns are very unusual at Montrose at this time of the year.
Two adult Common Terns were inside the protected area at Montrose Beach this morning. Both birds flew off to the west after a few minutes and were not seen again. This is a most unusual record. Other birds seen or heard at Montrose this a.m. include a southbound Great Egret, 2 Eastern Wood-Pewees, and a buzzing Dickcissel.