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Montrose Point--two life birds!

semi-overcast 37 °F

Today I woke up at 6am, rode two "L" trains to get to Uptown north of Chicago, and walked for forty minutes through an iffy neighborhood in order to bird at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, the premier place for birding during the migration season in Chicago. Boy was it worth the effort to get up there! The birds were fantastic...anyway, keep reading for the details!

Montrose Point is a point (duh!) that juts out into Lake Michigan on the Chicago lakefront, and birds migrating along the shores of the lake naturally stop at Montrose; thus it is a mecca for Chicagoland birders. I had two target birds (which would be lifers for me) for this morning--a beautiful shorebird called a Black-bellied Plover and a shy, rare sparrow called a Nelson's Sparrow, both of which have been seen at Montrose recently. Read on to see if I got them!

When I arrived at the point, it was a chilly 37 degrees, but it soon warmed up into the fifties and was very pleasant weather for the most part. I immediately headed to the beach on the tip of some other birders I had just talked with, and to my delight, I found three gorgeous BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS! Note that they have a white belly (?!) during the nonbreeding season, which is now.
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Then, I birded a part of Montrose Point called the "Magic Hedge." It indeed was magical today and yielded some nice passerine surprises, the best of which was this late-in-season WOOD THRUSH:
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This NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was the "best" of the wood warbler species I saw this morning. It was running and jumping along a path through the hedge in a frantic manner because it either had something attached to its bill or it had a bill deformity. You can kind of make out the bill imperfection in this crappy photo I took. Poor little bird.
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I was pleasantly surprised to find this beautiful BROWN THRASHER. It's getting to be a bit late in the season for these guys, as well:
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Sadly, I never found that ever-elusive Nelson's Sparrow, although I did methodically search the habitat it has recently been found in (dune grasses) at least three times throughout the three hours I was at Montrose. There were quite a few other sparrows around, the best of which was this SWAMP SPARROW:
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This beautiful WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW posed very nicely:
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A red FOX SPARROW (left) and a juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (right) also posed for a photo:
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Suddenly, a birder came up to me and told me that there was, of all things, a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in Montrose Harbor. I ran there, and with the help of other birders, I soon found the bird and captured the photo below. Greater White-fronted Geese are uncommon in Illinois and super rare on the lakefront, especially at Montrose. They are annually found in slightly greater numbers further inland. Life bird #702!!!
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It was an absolutely fantastic day at Montrose Point, with 42 species seen in total. Bird-of-the-day goes to the life bird vagrant Greater White-fronted Goose, and runner-up goes to my other life bird today, Black-bellied Plover. What an awesome day of birding!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 702 Species (2 life birds today: Black-bellied Plover & Greater White-fronted Goose)

42 avian species today:

Greater White-fronted Goose 1 Photos obtained
Canada Goose 50
Mallard 5
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Coot 1
Black-bellied Plover 3
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 5
Northern Flicker 2
Peregrine Falcon 1
Blue-headed Vireo 3
American Crow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Brown Creeper 2
Winter Wren 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet 10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Hermit Thrush 15
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin 50 Photos obtained
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling 5
Northern Waterthrush 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 30
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 5
Lincoln's Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 20
White-crowned Sparrow 10
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal 2
Common Grackle 5
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow X

Posted by skwclar 17:11 Archived in USA

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