Semipalmated Sandpipers (click to see the larger version)
Shorebird activity is picking up. On August 19 I had a Willet, Red Knot, 6 Semipalmated Plovers, about 30 Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a Sanderling. The pool on the public beach we call the fluddle has been a hot spot and that’s where most of these shorebirds were. A Whimbrel was seen by others. Link to my eBird checklist for August 19 below.
Willets are one of the earliest southbound migrant shorebirds we see in Chicago. Adults start to appear in late June and early July, followed by juveniles in August. Their migration is largely finished by Labor Day. This juvenile was wading in the pool of water on Montrose Beach we call Lake Montrose. August 2020.
Where was this bird born? The Dakotas? Canada? And where was it headed? Texas? Florida? The journeys of birds are extraordinary.
For more information about shorebirds at Montrose, see the Shorebirds section of the What to See page.
We had a nice influx of shorebirds at Montrose Beach in Chicago on September 15, including a couple of late birds flagged as such by eBird. Best were a Willet and Short-billed Dowitcher, plus Pectoral Sandpiper and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. Sanderlings and Semipalmated Plovers continue. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
I ran over to Montrose on the evening of July 12 to look for large shorebirds. With reports of Whimbrels and Willets along the Indiana lakefront recently I thought this might be a worthwhile effort. Between all the beach goers and flooding on the beach, shorebird habitat has been in short supply at Montrose. I did find a nice adult Willet at the far east end of the public beach, not far from where the Piping Plovers are nesting. This is a good time of the year to look for large shorebirds like Willets, Whimbrels, and Marbled Godwits at Montrose. I often have better luck with these birds in the evening than the morning as they get flushed off of other beaches and end up at Montrose because it has some habitat for them.
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.
Miserable weather often means fantastic birding at Montrose. Such was the case on May 2. The temperature never got out of the 40s, drizzle was a constant companion, and it started raining before I left. Parka and Polartec weather in May. I tallied 79 species in 3.5 hours, my best day of the spring so far, highlighted by 2 Whimbrels, 8 Willets, a Piping Plover, and 13 species of warblers, including Pine, Hooded, and Blue-winged. I also had a number of new birds for the year. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.