American Bitterns can show up in strange places during migration. They prefer marshes and other wetlands but when those habitats aren’t available they have to settle for whatever they can find. I once saw one standing on top of a picnic table at the end of Navy Pier in Chicago, trying hard to be inconspicuous. The American Bittern in this photo was at the small pond in the Marovitz Golf Course at Montrose on April 13. The bird wasn’t hard to pick out but it must have felt secure blending in with the rocks and vegetation at that fountain.
It’s axiomatic among Chicago lakefront birders that warm fronts with southwest winds in spring bring large numbers of migrants to the Chicago lakefront parks. That axiom was in full effect at Montrose Point today, April 12. I had the day off and spent a little over 3 hours at Montrose, tallying 69 species for my effort. Most impressive was the high volume of Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers and other mid-spring migrants. I knew I was in for a good morning when I saw Northern Flickers and flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers and American Robins coming in off Lake Michigan. I didn’t bird Montrose much in March because of the cold weather, so seeing all these migrants was a nice way to get back in the birding saddle.
Some of the other birds I saw at Montrose this a.m. include migrating Osprey and Northern Harriers, a lingering White-winged Scoter, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin, migrating Common Loons, and a cooperative American Bittern. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Karen and I spent a couple hours at Montrose on October 26.
The highlight were a 100 or so Franklin’s Gulls. Most were flying over
and continuing south but a few spent some time on the beach. The largest
flock was about 50 birds, the smallest 4. This is one of my best counts
of Franklin’s Gulls at Montrose ever, a consequence no doubt of the
recent strong westerly winds. In addition to the Franklin’s we had a
number of other birds of interest, including:
American Bittern – 1 in the dunes
Bonaparte’s Gull – 6, all first cycle birds
Short-eared Owl – 2 flying around the dunes and over the lake
Greater Yellowlegs – 1 on the beach
Wilson’s Snipe – 1
American Woodcock – 1
Lapland Longspur – 1
Snow Bunting – 2
American Pipit – 1
West winds in late October do a birder good.