Montrose was on fire with birds on May 19, hands down the best day of the spring. I ended up with 107 species for the day, 103 in the morning and 4 more on a return visit in the afternoon and evening, my second best daily total ever there (over 130 species were reported to eBird for the day, which is about as well as we do). The Magic Hedge lived up to its name and was bursting with warblers, thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers. One of the highlights was a slightly out of place male Least Bittern in the peripheral plantings. We live for days like this. We suffer through Midwestern winters for experiences like this. My highlights include
Piping Plover (2)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (first cycle bird)
Philadelphia Vireo (4)
24 species of warblers including Mourning, Connecticut, Black-throated Blue, and Hooded, plus gobs of Bay-breasted, Magnolias, and Blackpolls
White-eyed Vireo (click to see the larger version)
When you think of November and the Chicago lakefront, birds like Black-legged Kittiwake, Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck, and Red-throated Loon come to mind, but today’s highlights at Montrose include 2 species that shouldn’t be anywhere near northern Illinois at this time of the year. The Piping Plover found in mid-October was still on the beach. This bird has been present for 2 weeks and doesn’t appear to have any intention of leaving. I’m guessing that 98% of the world’s Piping Plovers are on their wintering grounds now, making this one of the latest Piping Plover records for Illinois.
The other late bird was a White-eyed Vireo (found by Jeff Bilsky). This is the latest White-eyed Vireo for Montrose I know of and one of just a handful of fall records for us (White-eyed Vireos are more or less regular in spring). Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by Mike Ferguson. (click to see the larger version)
This continues to be a stellar spring migration at Montrose Point. Today, May 24, was a bit weak for migrants but we made up for the lack of variety with 2 outstanding rarities. The more significant rarity was a Loggerhead Shrike, a bird I haven’t seen there since the 1990’s. That’s right, since the 20th century. The second and lesser rarity was a Bell’s Vireo, a bird that is less than annual at Montrose. Both birds were seen and enjoyed by multiple observers.
Here’s to a final week of May that’s bursting with migrants.
Passerines feeding on flies (click to see the larger version)
If you were at Montrose on May 5 you probably noticed the many passerines feeding in the tops of trees that were leafing out. These birds – Gray Catbirds, Swainson’s Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles, and a variety of warblers and sparrows were feeding on small flies. I also saw a Prothonotary Warbler and White-eyed Vireo doing the same. I’m not sure what kind of flies these were, possibly midges, but it was enjoyable to watch normally ground dwelling birds up high and above eye level.
This photo shows Red-winged Blackbirds, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Gray Catbirds, and a Swainson’s Thrush, all feasting on flies.
Yellow-headed Blackbird (click to see the larger version)
The hit parade of spring migration wonderfulness continued today, May 5 at Montrose. I ended up with 101 species in 6 hours of birding, only the fifth time I’ve topped 100 species in a day at Montrose. Passerines were abundant, with White-crowned, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows and Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers leading the way. There were also good numbers of Gray Catbirds and Swainson’s Thrushes. Interestingly, many of these birds were feeding in the tops of trees that were just leafing out, apparently on newly emerged midges. Shorebird variety, however, was low, which was surprising given the complete lack of dogs on the beach (thanks to CPD security) and the presence of a large fluddle on the public beach. The large number of people probably didn’t help (there were 2 major events at Montrose today). My highlights include
White-eyed Vireo – 1, feeding in the top of trees, a common theme today
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1, getting late
20 species of warbler, the best being Prothonotary and Golden-winged. Only Yellow-rumped, Palm, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird were common however
Clay-colored Sparrow – 2
Lark Sparrow – 1
Yellow-breasted Chat – 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird – 1
Orchard Oriole – 2
I took the day off today, May 16, in anticipation of the south winds and expected bird bonanza at Montrose. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve been birding Montrose for 35 years and I’ve had some great days there, but I can say that today was the best day I’ve ever had, and I can back that claim up with numbers. I ended up with 110 species in about 9 hours of birding (split over morning and afternoon visits), besting my previous personal high by 7 species. Passerines were the highlight, with good numbers of warblers, thrushes, and flycatchers. I also picked up several bonus birds that helped pad my total. My highlights include