Larry Krutulis found 3 Willets inside the protected area at Montrose Beach earlier today, and they were still there late this afternoon. I also had 2 subadult Forster’s Terns inside the protected area. The Willets and the Least Sandpipers Larry also had are almost certainly early southbound migrants. Both species are among the first shorebirds we see in the summer.
I went over to Montrose this evening to check the beach for shorebirds and found 8 Willets inside the protected area. They were very close to the fishhook pier. I also had an Olive-sided Flycatcher near the Magic Hedge, among many more common passerines.
I had 13 species of shorebirds on my May 8 Big Day, which helped bump my total to over 100. My 100th bird was this Willet, which I saw when I went back out in the afternoon. Willets are uncommon but regular spring and summer visitors to Montrose Beach.
Shorebird migration has been underway for about a week now, with Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Willets being seen. These are usually the first shorebirds to return. I saw and photographed the adult bird pictured to the right inside the protected area at the east end of the beach.
On a related note, the Chicago Park District fenced off Montrose Dunes on the west and south sides for the extended July 4th weekend to protect it from the thousands of concertgoers attending the WaveFront festival. This was a good thing.