Olive-sided Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)
I spent about three hours birding Montrose on September 7 and it was time well spent. I tallied 51 species for my effort and saw a number of personal first of season birds. According to eBird, almost 80 species were recorded by all observers. Swainson’s Thrushes have arrived and they seemed to be everywhere. The dogwood north of the Magic Hedge and the cherry trees in the meadow were flush with them. My highlights include
. Flooding at Montrose Beach (click to see the larger version)
The heavy rain on the night of August 24 flooded parts of the Dunes and beach at Montrose, creating shorebird habitat. Before the rain the Dunes and beach were bone dry. We’ll see how long this habitat lasts. We’re in the peak of shorebird migration, so additional rain can only help.
A Whimbrel made a brief appearance at Montrose on August 22, the first one reported this summer. We’re coming into the peak time for Whimbrels, from late August to early September. Take a look at the screenshot below from eBird.
Obviously the beach is the best place to look for Whimbrels. We see them along the shore, up on the beach mixed in with Ring-billed Gulls, in the Dunes, and flying by. Whimbrels are vociferous birds and their loud, excited call is distinctive. Don’t forget to check the beach and Dunes in the afternoon and evening too.
On August 10 I saw the two surviving juvenile Piping Plovers, Imani and Siewka, make sustained flights, first out over Lake Michigan north of the beach and back, and then over Lake Michigan east of the Point. One of the adults accompanied them on these sojourns. This is the first time I’ve seen them fly for any distance or length of time. Before they could fly, the young plovers were vulnerable to a variety of avian and mammal predators and competitors, including gulls, Cooper’s Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Great Blue Herons, Raccoons, skunks, and aggressive parental Killdeer. Now they have at least a fighting chance against these threats and their chances for survival increase dramatically. Two of the siblings from the 2021 brood disappeared before fledging and were likely lost to predators.
2021 is the third year in a row Monty and Rose have raised young at Montrose to fledging, a monumental conservation success story by any measure.
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.
There’s nothing like seeing a big, brown, long-billed shorebird to lift the spirits and brighten the day. This Marbled Godwit made a brief appearance at Montrose Beach on June 10. It flew off to the south after a few minutes and did not return.
The middle of June is a gray period for shorebird migration. Most northbound migrants have passed through, and it’s too early for the first southbound migrants. What was this Marbled Godwit doing? Was it a tardy spring migrant? We’re still seeing Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers, which are late spring migrants, but mid-June is outside the range for northbound Marbled Godwits. What about a southbound migrant? Mid-June seems too early for that, based on historical records. A failed breeder? There’s no way to know. More photos of the godwit are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.