Today was the best day of the fall for me. I ended up with 53 species in about 3 hours of birding, with good numbers of passerines, especially warblers and Catharus thrushes. Highlights include Connecticut and 2 Golden-winged Warblers (10 warbler species total), Bobolink, Dickcissel, the continuing American Avocet, and a surprise Turkey Vulture. TVs aren’t rare at Montrose but we don’t see a lot of them. Shorebirds were skimpy, mainly because the fluddle has dried up. I also had impressive numbers of aerial insectivores, mostly Chimney Swifts and Barn Swallows, a few bonus Cliff Swallows, and what seemed like thousands of buzzing dragonflies. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
Piping Plover on nest (click to see the larger version)
After the eggs from their first nesting attempt were removed by biologists, Rose and Monty, the intrepid Piping Plover pair, picked up their show and moved it a few hundred yards east to a new area. This is a more propitious location, both above the flood zone and away from people. One bird on the nest is visible in this photo (inside the protective cage). A couple of eggs have been laid. Note the photobombing Bank Swallow on the rope.
Cliff, Tree, and Barn Swallows (click to see the larger version)
Swallows are starting to gather at Montrose Point. On July 15 I had all 5 of our smaller swallows in the Dunes at Montrose. They like to perch on the white rope that cordons off protected areas in the Dunes. This is a great way to study and photograph these birds. This phenomenon has a narrow window – just a few weeks in July – and won’t last much longer.
Migrant Purple Martins once gathered by the thousands in late summer and early fall at Montrose. It was quite a spectacle, reminiscent of a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. For unknown reasons the large numbers stopped using Montrose and the spectacle is a thing of the past. The Purple Martins we see anymore are mostly the local breeders. I photographed these birds at Montrose Harbor on August 1, 2016.
Barn, Tree, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows (click to see the larger version)
Large numbers of swallows of several species are using Montrose Dunes for feeding and resting. This happens every year in mid summer and lasts only a few weeks. The swallows like to perch on the rope that cordons off the protected areas of the Dunes. The majority are Barn, Tree, and Northern Rough-winged, but a few Bank and Cliff Swallows are also seen. Most are probably local nesting birds and include many fresh juveniles. For some reason Purple Martins don’t perch on the rope but they do use the Dunes for feeding.
Northern Rough-winged Swallows (click to see the larger version)
Juvenile birds are everywhere at Montrose, begging for food, following their parents, etc. The young of Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings are especially obvious. The swallows like to perch on the rope that marks off the protected areas in the Dunes. These 2 juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallows were taking a break from the hard work of being kids.