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 (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.
Montrose Paved Trail Map (click to see the larger version)
Construction of the paved, handicapped accessible path has begun. The path will allow people with mobility issues to more easily bird Montrose. The current dirt and woodchip paths are difficult for folks with disabilities to negotiate. As such, the main birding areas at Montrose, like the Magic Hedge, are closed for the time being. I don’t know how long this will last, probably several weeks. The beach and Dunes are unaffected by the construction and are accessible.
Montrose parking meter map. The blue pins represent parking meters. Courtesy of the 46th ward office. (click to see the larger version)
Parking meters have been installed at Montrose, and starting on May 20 you’ll have to pay to park. I don’t know what the cost will be. I only saw meters on West Montrose Harbor Drive, and NOT on West Montrose Avenue or Simonds Drive up to Wilson Avenue. I assume we’ll be able to park on these roads and not have to pay (for now). This Google Map shows the road system in and around Montrose Point. Also see the image with this post, which shows the current locations of parking meters at Montrose.
Big Day – An effort to see as many birds as possible in a 24 hour period.
If you follow Montrose on eBird, you’ve probably noticed that several people have had 100 or more species in a day this May. There’s a narrow window when this is possible, usually the first 2 weeks in May. This coincides with the peak of spring migration in northern Illinois. Montrose is one of the few places where you can see 100 species on your own by foot. Big days usually require large amounts of planning and strategy, like building a route and staking out birds. Montrose is different. Getting to 100 involves hitting it on a day with loads of migrants and then birding like mad for 4 or 5 hours. Every May several people manage to cross the century threshold. The weekend of May 14 – 16, 2021, for example, saw multiple birders hit 100.
Doing a big day at Montrose isn’t for everyone, but if you’re competitive and like a challenge, give it a try. Also, you don’t have to go for 100. You could start at 60 or 70 or whatever goal you’re comfortable aiming for, and working your way up as you gain experience. I’ve included a link to my eBird checklist below for May 15, a day I had 104 species.
May 15, 2021
The city is adding parking meters to the roads at Montrose Point, starting in the summer of 2021. This will include West Montrose Harbor Drive, the road where most birding visitors park. If you don’t want to feed the meters, you can always park west of Lake Shore Drive and walk in. This is what people did when the city limited access to Montrose in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 fears.
Beach Fencing and Dunes Roping
Montrose Dunes roping (click to see the larger version)
In April 2021, the southeast section of Montrose Beach was fenced and parts of Montrose Dunes were roped off. The beach fencing will protect the Piping Plovers and their habitat, should Monty and Rose use this area for nesting when they return. The Dunes roping will allow vegetation to recover and regenerate. Entering these roped areas is prohibited. Entering the fenced portion of the beach will also be prohibited when Monty and Rose return. Note that if Monty and Rose decide to use a different part of Montrose Beach or the Dunes, that area will also be off-limits.
The main entrance to Montrose has been closed a couple of times in the morning since the park reopened in late February. The gate should be open by sunrise but was still locked at 6:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. when I tried driving in in early March. If this happens, drive north to the entrance at Wilson Avenue or Lawrence Avenue and enter there. You can also enter the park at Foster Avenue.