The Curve-billed Thrasher was still at Montrose early this morning, June 29. I was near the north end of the Magic Hedge when I noticed Geoff Williamson looking at and then pointing to something. I assumed he had the thrasher and when I got closer I could see the bird perched near the top of a Jack Pine. The thrasher posed obligingly for a minute or 2 before flying about 50 yards to the east and disappearing into the underbrush. I didn’t follow it but I assume it’s still in the area.
Clay-colored Sparrow (click to see the larger version)
Geoff also alerted me to a Clay-colored Sparrow he heard singing near the Park Bait Shop while driving in. I went over to the area and after a little poking around found the Clay-colored in the group of small evergreens just across the road from the Park Bait Shop. This is a very unusual sighting as Clay-colored Sparrows don’t normally occur at Montrose in late June.
The Curve-billed Thrasher was obviously the big story at Montrose today but there were a few other birds of interest. Late this afternoon I had 6 Semipalmated and 1 White-rumped Sandpiper inside the protected area at the east end of the beach. This might be the latest spring White-rumped I’ve ever seen. Also, the continuing female Red-breasted Merganser was inside the harbor.
Curve-billed Thrasher. Photo by Nathan Goldberg. (click to see the larger version)
Montrose regular Luiz Munoz found a Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre) near the Magic Hedge on Wednesday, June 18. The bird was seen and photographed by many, and as of June 22 is still present. Curve-billed Thrashers are normally found in the southwest United States and northern Mexico, though they do wander and there are extralimital records for several Midwestern states. This is just the second Illinois record of this species, the first coming from Rend Lake in December, 1992, as well as the 338th species recorded from Montrose.
I spent a few hours at Montrose this morning. It wasn’t as active as May 8 but I still ended up with 86 species, and I had almost 20(!) birds today that I didn’t see on Thursday. Here are my highlights:
Mute Swan – 3 flew in from the south and landed in the lake just off the beach
Northern Shoveler – 3 flying north over the lake
White-winged Scoter – 1 in the lake off the fishhook pier
Red-breasted Merganser – 11
Great Egret – 11, including a group of 8, all flying south
Northern Harrier – 1 immature flying south high over the point
Ruddy Turnstone – 2 on the beach
Laughing Gull – 1 adult flying south over the fishhook pier
Common Tern – 3
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1 female
Yellow-throated Vireo – 1
Philadelphia Vireo – 1
All 5 swallows, with most of the Cliffs and Banks moving south
Marsh Wren – 1
Northern Mockingbird – 1
Blue-winged Warbler – 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1 male
Blackburnian Warbler – 1
Mourning Warbler – 1
Scarlet Tanager – 1 male, flew in off the lake and landed in the dunes
Lark Sparrow – 1, flew in off the lake and landed in the dunes
Dickcissel – 1 singing male
There seemed to be a fair amount of turnover between today and Thursday, with fewer White-crowned Sparrows, Catharus thrushes, Gray Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Kingbirds, and Least Flycatchers today. Warblers are still scant.
Montrose wasn’t very active this morning, as is to be expected for the first week in June, but I had a few goodies. A male Hooded Warbler was singing in the Magic Hedge. I never saw him but others did. I also had a Northern Mockingbird in the willows in the dunes. Other birds seen or heard include Semipalmated Plover, Yellow-bellied and Willow Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Veery, 8 migrating Blue Jays, Wilson’s, Magnolia, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Ovenbird, and American Redstart.