A Travellerspoint blog

Shorebirding: A break to the summer doldrums

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, IL

semi-overcast 89 °F

This morning, I birded Montrose with my friends Simon, Peter, their mom Andrea, and Isoo. The morning was off to a very slow start at first with only an expected breeder here in the shorebird department, the SPOTTED SANDPIPER:

With the help of a SANDERLING and this PIPING PLOVER though, the shorebird activity slowly grew from nothing to a steady trickle of birds here and there. Monty and Rose, Chicago’s resident Piping Plover couple, were successful yet again this year despite unprecedented, high lake levels. They successfully fledged three chicks: Esperanza, Hazel, and Nish. This pale individual is one of the young ones.

And this cutie I believe is Rose, the adult female.

The nightmare of the day came when a parks district-hired bulldozer worker came and started filling in the fluddle on the beach (after leaving his bulldozer idling, pumping fumes for over 30 minutes!). We were PISSED! Why would the parks district be filling in shorebird habitat on a beach that is literally CLOSED to the public? Covid doesn’t grow on beaches, that’s for sure! The four of us marched on to the beach in front of the bulldozer and demanded to know what he was doing and he replied with a simple “mayor’s orders.” Whatever — yeah it’s your job but it’s a pretty crappy one if the parks district can’t find anything better to do with their workers than fill in migratory bird habitat at Chicago’s prime birding hotspot. Multiple angry calls were made to the parks district.

With what remained of the fluddle, shorebirds kept visiting including this solitary SOLITARY SANDPIPER, a good bird for Montrose:

Yep, the shorebird count did increase slightly after about an hour: here are SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS (left), a PECTORAL SANDPIPER (center), and KILLDEER (right).

The “Pec” by itself:

LEAST SANDPIPER — Montrose is where I got my lifer of this species, back in 2013 I think.

This SEMIPALMATED PLOVER made for a plover trifecta today! Any day with three plovers is a great day and today was no exception. Note the presence of only one black breast band, compared to two on the similar Killdeer.

CASPIAN TERNS with a RING-BILLED GULL. No hoped-for Laughings, unfortunately for big-year birder Isoo...

Can you spot the immature SAVANNAH SPARROW:


After the Tolzmann’s had to leave, Isoo and I hit the Magic Hedge in search of any early migrants. And in fact we got pretty lucky! Isoo picked out this YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER:

An oddly-streaked young WARBLING VIREO:

And I found this TENNESSEE WARBLER, super cool to see in July in Chicago!

Other non-photographed species in the hedge area included YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, WOOD THRUSH, and SEDGE WREN — pretty productive for July.

Out on Fishook Pier, we took delight in a close-range SANDERLING:

And another Least Sandpiper back at the beach:

Overall, it was an exceptional day of July birding with 56 species in total. Bird-of-the-day for me goes to the Piping Plovers, a new species for my year list. Runner-up to the early Tennessee Warbler. So nice to see nine species of shorebirds, and to be birding with friends!

Happy birding,
World Life List: 1120 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:33 Archived in USA

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


The Chicago Park District is its own separate municipality. If you want to protest the action you saw, contact the Park District in addition to the mayor. Good luck!

by liz cifani

Speaking up for the birds, as you did, may have discouraged that truck driver from doing a complete job of wrecking the fluddle. Good for you!

by Susan Subak

Thanks for the update on the bird activity at Montrose! That said, it is super disappointing to see the beach activities of the bulldozer. What a disgrace. Chicago can and should do better. Thanks for speaking up.

by Susie

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining: