Hope is the thing with eggs. A pair of Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach has ended the long drought of nesting Piping Plovers in Chicago. As of June 10, Rose, the female, has laid 3 eggs in a nest on the public portion of the beach just northwest of the Beach House. The area has been cordoned off by authorities to protect the birds and their nesting effort, and a cage has been placed over the nest to further protect the eggs. With a little luck and a lot of help from volunteers, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, the eggs will hatch within a few weeks. Stay tuned.
Montrose was on fire with birds on May 19, hands down the best day of the spring. I ended up with 107 species for the day, 103 in the morning and 4 more on a return visit in the afternoon and evening, my second best daily total ever there (over 130 species were reported to eBird for the day, which is about as well as we do). The Magic Hedge lived up to its name and was bursting with warblers, thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers. One of the highlights was a slightly out of place male Least Bittern in the peripheral plantings. We live for days like this. We suffer through Midwestern winters for experiences like this. My highlights include
Piping Plover (2)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (first cycle bird)
Philadelphia Vireo (4)
24 species of warblers including Mourning, Connecticut, Black-throated Blue, and Hooded, plus gobs of Bay-breasted, Magnolias, and Blackpolls
eBird Checklist (morning visit)
eBird Checklist (p.m. visit)
Miserable weather often means fantastic birding at Montrose. Such was the case on May 2. The temperature never got out of the 40s, drizzle was a constant companion, and it started raining before I left. Parka and Polartec weather in May. I tallied 79 species in 3.5 hours, my best day of the spring so far, highlighted by 2 Whimbrels, 8 Willets, a Piping Plover, and 13 species of warblers, including Pine, Hooded, and Blue-winged. I also had a number of new birds for the year. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
The long-staying Piping Plover was still at Montrose Beach on November 22. This is now the latest Piping Plover record for Illinois, the previous late record being November 21 from Mendota in 1982. Most of November has been unusually cold in Chicago, with high temperatures in the 30s and nighttime lows even colder for the last couple weeks. It makes you wonder what the bird has been eating – invertebrate activity must be seriously depressed in such cold conditions. This bird also survived at least one close encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk. We’ll see how long it holds on. Link to my eBird checklist below.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose on Thursday, November 8. The female type Harlequin Duck was inside the fishing pier and the Piping Plover continues on the beach. The Plover has been present for 3 weeks now. My best passerine was a very late Swainson’s Thrush near the Magic Hedge. A strange mix of birds for November. I ended up with 43 species for my effort. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
I wasn’t even going to bird this morning (November 4) because of rain in the forecast, but when I looked out my window at 7:30 I saw no rain, so I grabbed my gear and headed over to Montrose. I tallied a whopping 20 species for my effort, unimpressive even by early November standards. But, BUT, 25% of that tally consisted of good birds – Harlequin Duck (off the end of the fishing pier, found by Krzysztof Kurlyowicz), Black Scoter (2 flybys, found by Steve Huggins), Red-necked Grebe (flyby), Piping Plover, and Baird’s Sandpiper. The Baird’s (2 juveniles) represent one of the latest records of this species for Montrose, continuing the trend for late birds started by the Piping Plover.
It’s hard to go wrong in November.
Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.