Olive-sided Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)
Migration is still going on, although at a reduced rate. Just two weeks ago Montrose was overrun with warblers and other migrant passerines. Today I had only two obvious warbler migrants. This shows how fast spring migration winds down. Birds are in a hurry to get to their breeding grounds and they don’t linger long. Bonafide migrants I had at Montrose on June 4
American Avocets working the western panne in the Dunes (click to see the larger version)
Just because May has ended doesn’t mean migration comes to a screeching halt. The following are just some of the bonafide migrants I saw at Montrose on June 1
I ended up with 60 species in about 3 hours of birding. The first week in June isn’t as frenetic as mid-May but is still worth birding, and Montrose tends to hold migrants later in spring migration than most other places. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Ospreys over Montrose (click to see the larger version)
May 21 saw a big influx of flycatchers at Montrose. Every tree and shrub seemed to have at least a few Empidonax or Eastern Wood-Pewees, and small groups of Eastern Kingbirds were flying south over the Point in reverse migration. I ended up with 7 different flycatchers, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but we don’t see nearly as many flycatchers as we do warblers. Montrose is an excellent place to study the confusing Empidonax, particularly the look-alike Alder and Willow Flycatchers. I also tallied 16 species of warblers and a bonus pair of flyover Ospreys, so migration isn’t over yet. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
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.
The forecast for April 24 called for rain, so I planned on spending the day inside doing chores and such. When I woke up and checked the news, the forecast indicated most of the rain would occur south of Chicago, so I headed over to Montrose for some late April birding. Good choice as it turned out to be the best day of the spring so far. The trees and shrubs were dripping with Swamp and White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Many of these birds were in the tops of trees feasting on swarms of small insects. I ended up with 66 species in almost four hours, and about 80 species were reported to eBird by all observers. I had multiple personal first-of-spring sightings. My highlights include
Willet – 3
White-faced Ibis – 1, first site record
Long-eared Owl – 1
Grasshopper Sparrow – 1
Northern Parula – 1
Pine Warbler – 1
The White-faced Ibis was on the protected beach early in the morning. It did not stay long. We’ve had multiple Long-eared Owls in the last week in what has been one of the best springs I can remember for them. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
Cape May Warbler (click to see the larger version)
I’ve been seeing this Cape May Warbler for several days in the same small hawthorn tree. I posted photos online and someone noticed what look like scale insects on the branches. Scale insects are a group of insects that don’t move and suck plant juices for sustenance. You can see them festooning the branches in the lower right corner of the photo — they look like tiny white flakes or clumps of rice grains. Putting two and two together, I’m guessing the Cape May Warbler has been frequenting this particular hawthorn because of the abundant scale insects and the food they provide it. More photos of the Cape May Warbler and scale insects are at my eBird checklist for October 5, URL below.