Ross’s Gull at Chicago’s Park 566 (click to see the larger version)
Few birds spark feelings of ecstacy the way Ross’s Gull does, so when one showed up at Park 566 on the south side of Chicago on March 11, 2023, it generated a lot of excitement in the birding community. Hordes of eager birders descended on Park 566 and Rainbow Beach to see what may be the rarity of the decade in Chicago. The Ross’s obliged and put on a show worthy of its status as one of the most sought after of North American birds. This is the fourth record of Ross’s Gull for Illinois, and the first record of an immature for the state. Many excellent photos are at the Park 566 eBird Hotspot.
Ross’s Gulls at Montrose Point
Montrose has two confirmed Ross’s Gull sightings, the first from November 1978 and the second from March 2011. The 1978 record is the same bird first seen at Gillson Park along Lake Michigan in Wilmette, Illinois. This individual made its way south to Chicago, where it was observed at North Avenue Beach and again at Montrose. The 2011 record is of a well-photographed adult sitting on the fishing pier.
Weather forecast screenshot. From weather.com. (click to see the larger version)
We’ll get a shot of milder air and south winds starting March 15 and lasting a couple days. At this point, Thursday, March 16 looks like the better day for birding. We should see an influx of typical early spring migrants, including Eastern Phoebe, American Woodcock, and Rusty Blackbird. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for recent sightings.
American Wigeon flying north past Montrose Point (click to see the larger version)
An impressive flight of dabbling and bay ducks took place on the morning of March 2. This flight included numbers of Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Redheads, and Canvasbacks, the latter uncommon at Montrose. Most of these birds were flying north into a strong headwind. This seems counterintuitive but is typical behavior for migrating spring ducks along the western shore of Lake Michigan.
June is here and you should keep birding Montrose, at least for a week or two. Spring migration doesn’t come to a dead stop when May ends. Early June is an excellent time for flycatchers, cuckoos, and later warblers like Mourning and and Wilson’s. Also, shorebirds will continue to move through, and there’s always a chance something unusual will show up, like that Snowy Plover. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for the latest sightings.
Snowy Plover (click to see the larger version)
Woody Goss found a Snowy Plover early on the morning of May 31 on the protected portion of Montrose Beach. It reappeared in the same place on June 3. This is about the 5th Snowy Plover record for Montrose and the second this year (the first was on April 23 and 24). More photos of the bird can be seen at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
Snowy Plovers are normally found on the Gulf Coast and throughout the western and southwestern United States. They do vagrate regularly and show up far outside their usual range.
May 31, 2022
Connecticut Warbler (click to see the larger version)
Late May is prime time for Connecticut Warblers at Montrose. We’ve had multiple sightings so far this spring. The best way to find them is to listen for their loud, distinctive song. Two were at Montrose on May 26, and both were located because they were singing. Good recordings of Connecticut Warbler songs are on YouTube.