Author Archives: rhughes

About rhughes

Robert D. Hughes lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. His professional background is in Web site management and front-end Web development. He also writes about Web development issues and works with Joomla! CMS. When he isn't sitting in front of a computer he's out in the field looking for and photographing birds and other critters.

Just What is The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary?

Montrose Point

The yellow circle delineates the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (click to see the larger version)

Montrose Point is a big place. For the purposes of my online guides it includes all the land east of Lake Shore Drive between Lawrence Avenue on the north and Buena Avenue on the south. Obviously not all of this space is a dedicated bird sanctuary, though many areas are good for birds and birding, like the boat harbor and north end of the Marovitz Golf Course. The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is a subarea of Montrose Point. It includes the Magic Hedge, Magic Clump, Meadow, peripheral plantings, and woods at the east end of the Point. This is a much smaller area compared to the whole of Montrose Point. The graphic shows the approximate boundaries of the sanctuary.

Montrose Update, July 2021

Dunes Access

The Dunes are completely fenced off and inaccessible to protect the nesting Piping Plovers. You can bird the periphery of the Dunes and scan the beach from the fishing pier and east end of the public beach. We’ve also been seeing shorebirds along the inlet next to the fishing pier. Again, the pier is the best place to check the inlet and beach, especially in the morning as the sun will be behind you. In the afternoon and evening, the east end of the public beach is the best place to check the beach inside the protected area.

The Bird Sanctuary

Sneak peek at the new handicapped accessible path

Sneak peek at the new handicapped accessible path (click to see the larger version)

The main parts of the bird sanctuary, including the Magic Hedge and peripheral plantings, are still closed due to construction of the paved walkway and will likely remain closed for the foreseeable future. You can walk around and bird the entire periphery but entering the sanctuary isn’t allowed.

Shorebirding, July 2021

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher (click to see the larger version)

We’ve been seeing migrant shorebirds at Montrose Beach almost daily since late June. Most have been Least Sandpipers, but we’ve also had Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, and American Avocet. On July 14 I had a Short-billed Dowitcher, my first of the year. These are all expected early summer shorebirds.

Summer Swallows

Northern Rough-winged and Bank Swallows at Montrose Dunes

Northern Rough-winged and Bank Swallows at Montrose Dunes (click to see the larger version)

Five species of swallows nest at Montrose – Barn, Bank, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Purple Martin. In mid summer, the young and adults of several of these species like to perch on the ropes and fencing in the Dunes. If you want to work on swallow identification and aging, the Dunes provide an excellent opportunity for study and photography. Similar species will often queue up side by side, making the differences between them more obvious. Watching the adults feed their begging children is also entertaining.

Dunes Beaver Damage

Beaver damage at Montrose Dunes

Beaver damage at Montrose Dunes (click to see the larger version)

You may have never seen a Beaver at Montrose but you’ve almost certainly noticed the damage they’ve done if you’ve been to the Dunes. It’s hard to miss. Many of the willows along the shore at the east end of the beach have been gnawed to stumps by the busy rodents. Birders like checking these willows because they’re the first line of trees migrating warblers and other passerines encounter at Montrose during fall migration. Beavers are interesting animals but we’d hate to lose the beach willows as a migrant trap. The photo shows the damage I’m referring to.

Beaver, June 23, 2021

Beaver at Montrose Dunes

Beaver at Montrose Dunes (click to see the larger version)

On June 23 I saw an indolent Beaver lounging along the inlet next to the fishing pier, munching on a twig. In the 40 years I’ve been birding Montrose this is only the third or fourth Beaver I’ve seen there. I’m always struck by how massive they are, like a Muskrat on steroids. The variety of wildlife that finds its way to Montrose is remarkable. In addition to Beavers, we’ve recorded White-tailed Deer, Muskrat, Opossum, Coyote, Red Fox, Striped Skunk, and Raccoons. Montrose isn’t just for the birds.