The dogwood just north of the north end of the Magic Hedge has been a hotspot for a variety of passerines this early fall. Birds I’ve seen feasting on its fruit include Gray Catbird, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, and Eastern Kingbird. As of early September, the shrub has abundant berries, so it should be productive for a few weeks. Look for the clusters of pea-sized white berries to find it (as far as I know, this is the only dogwood in the sanctuary). The best approach for birding it is to stand quietly 15 to 20 feet in front of it. Patience and determination are needed to pick birds out in the thick foliage.
I had a couple of nice surprises on June 2. We’ve been seeing and hearing a Blue-headed Vireo for the last few days, and today I found it in the grove at the east end of the Point. Needless to say, it’s getting late for Blue-headed Vireo in northern Illinois – they should be gone by June and on their breeding grounds north of us.
An immature Lesser Black-backed Gull has been hanging around Montrose Beach. Today I saw it at the east end of the protected beach among the loafing Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare at Montrose in the summer. The protected beach is a haven for gulls, terns, and shorebirds to relax and not have to worry about people disturbing them.
There’s always something to look at and look forward to at Montrose, even with migration winding down. More photos of the Lesser Black-backed Gull and one of the Blue-headed Vireo are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
June 2, 2021
We were all expecting a great day on April 27, but I don’t think anyone knew just how good it would be. It turned out to be one of the best April days at Montrose any of us could remember. According to eBird, about 120 species were reported by all observers, with multiple rarities and first of season sightings. I ended up with 73 species in about 2.5 hours. My highlights include
Eastern Kingbird (early)
Yellow-throated Vireo (early)
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
Gray Catbird (early)
Swainson’s Thrush (early)
Cerulean Warbler (very rare, less than annual)
Yellow-throated Warbler (very rare, less than annual)
Pine Warbler (2, uncommon)
Summer Tanager (a nice adult male, uncommon at Montrose)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (early)
Any day with Cerulean and Yellow-throated Warblers and Summer Tanager is hard to beat. I don’t think I’ve had this trio at Montrose before either. The number of early passerines felt like early or mid-May rather than late April. It’s amazing and predictable what southwest winds do for bird migration in the spring. Link to my eBird checklist below.
April 27, 2021
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)
When you think of November and the Chicago lakefront, birds like Black-legged Kittiwake, Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck, and Red-throated Loon come to mind, but today’s highlights at Montrose include 2 species that shouldn’t be anywhere near northern Illinois at this time of the year. The Piping Plover found in mid-October was still on the beach. This bird has been present for 2 weeks and doesn’t appear to have any intention of leaving. I’m guessing that 98% of the world’s Piping Plovers are on their wintering grounds now, making this one of the latest Piping Plover records for Illinois.
The other late bird was a White-eyed Vireo (found by Jeff Bilsky). This is the latest White-eyed Vireo for Montrose I know of and one of just a handful of fall records for us (White-eyed Vireos are more or less regular in spring). Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
This continues to be a stellar spring migration at Montrose Point. Today, May 24, was a bit weak for migrants but we made up for the lack of variety with 2 outstanding rarities. The more significant rarity was a Loggerhead Shrike, a bird I haven’t seen there since the 1990’s. That’s right, since the 20th century. The second and lesser rarity was a Bell’s Vireo, a bird that is less than annual at Montrose. Both birds were seen and enjoyed by multiple observers.
Here’s to a final week of May that’s bursting with migrants.