Panne and Chicago Skyline (click to see the larger version)
With the rain last night and the dense fog this morning I was hoping for a warblers-dripping-from-the-trees kind of morning at Montrose today, but it didn’t happen. Not that there weren’t birds – during my brief visit I snagged a Least Bittern and a roosting Eastern Whip-poor-will, thanks to a couple of friendly birders. Also, Soras were flushing left and right from the pannes, which, thanks to last night’s rain, are soaking wet and looking very good for rails.
I took this photo from the western panne with the north Chicago skyline in the background. Note the layer of fog over Lake Michigan. Visibility was down to about 75 yards at one point.
American Bittern (click to see the larger version)
It’s axiomatic among Chicago lakefront birders that warm fronts with southwest winds in spring bring large numbers of migrants to the Chicago lakefront parks. That axiom was in full effect at Montrose Point today, April 12. I had the day off and spent a little over 3 hours at Montrose, tallying 69 species for my effort. Most impressive was the high volume of Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers and other mid-spring migrants. I knew I was in for a good morning when I saw Northern Flickers and flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers and American Robins coming in off Lake Michigan. I didn’t bird Montrose much in March because of the cold weather, so seeing all these migrants was a nice way to get back in the birding saddle.
Some of the other birds I saw at Montrose this a.m. include migrating Osprey and Northern Harriers, a lingering White-winged Scoter, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin, migrating Common Loons, and a cooperative American Bittern. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Sanderlings (click to see the larger version)
I spent about 4.5 hours at Montrose this morning, May 21, and it was still birdy. My total for the morning was 84 species. A week ago White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers formed the bulk of the migrant passerines. By contrast, I saw only two White-crowned Sparrows and no Yellow-rumped Warblers this morning. The dominant warblers today were Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart. There were also decent numbers of Wilson’s and Canada Warblers. Thrush and sparrow numbers were way down from early last week as well. My highlights include
Least Bittern – 1 female. Thanks to the kind couple who pointed her out to me.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Chimney Swift – ~300, swarming over the point
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 4
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
19 species of warblers, including Mourning, Connecticut, and 2 male Black-throated Blues
Montrose was surprisingly birdy this morning, November 8, with several unexpected finds. I ended up with 35 species in about 1.5 hours of birding, which isn’t too shabby considering the date. Best were a Cattle Egret and 5 Franklin’s Gulls. The egret was flying around the beach and Dunes early in the morning. I think it landed briefly on the beach, but was flying north over Lake Michigan the last time I saw it. Cattle Egret is an unusual bird for Montrose; we don’t see them every year. This has been a good fall for them in the upper Midwest, so maybe this sighting shouldn’t have been surprising.
Three of the 5 Franklin’s Gulls were at the west end of the beach early in the morning and were still there when I left. The other 2 were flybys. This hasn’t been a good fall for Franklin’s Gulls along the Lake Michigan lakefront, probably because we haven’t had many storms with strong west winds. Link to eBird checklist below.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (click to see the larger version)
A juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron has been hanging around Montrose Harbor for several weeks, taking handouts of fish given by sympathetic local fishermen. Most Black-crowned Night-Herons have departed for the fall. We’ll see how long this one stays.
Baird’s Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
A juvenile Baird’s Sandpiper was at Montrose Beach this morning, August 14. This is my first Baird’s of the season. My best bird however was a Cattle Egret mixed in with a group of 17 Great Egrets that flew over. Cattle Egrets are rare at Montrose.