Good morning GreatBirdPics members! As you recall from yesterday’s message we took off early with birder buddy Mark to go to the beach – in Chicago. I’ve written before about Montrose Beach, an area that juts out into Lake Michigan about a mile or so north of the downtown skyscrapers. Montrose is a special place to find migrating birds because it’s one of the larger green spaces on Lake Michigan in Chicago. As birds are flying south for the winter they travel along the coastline of the lake and when they reach Chicago they take a little break before moving on.
We arrived there about 8 AM on a beautiful clear day. Our targets were Black-bellied Plovers, Long-billed Dowitchers, and the Nelson’s Sparrow (see Emil Baumbach’s beautiful picture of it from yesterday’s Notes). I’ll just get this over with now – no we didn’t see any of those (although some “helpful” person spotted us looking for the Nelson’s Sparrow and relayed to Mark that he had seen it right where we were looking later that morning). But we did see 40 species, which is pretty good.
As we walked along the beach we saw lots of gulls – I counted over 150 Ring-billed Gulls and Karen spotted one lonely Herring Gull in their midst.
As we walked up the beach toward the pavilion we spotted two small birds foraging on the ground. The first one was pretty easy to identify, although it seemed out of place on the beach. A Palm Warbler pecked at the sand and bits of foliage there on the beach:
Nearby was another sparrow which was hard to identify at first, but once we had a better view of it we could tell it was a Savannah Sparrow. The pale yellow over the eye (supraloral) and a bit of a bushy crown helped in the ID.
The thrill of the morning came shortly thereafter. As we were observing the Savannah Sparrow and Palm Warbler foraging for food on the beach a Cooper’s Hawk swooped in and landed not 10 yards from us. It stayed on the ground for 20 seconds or so before taking off into the nearby woods. There were actually a pair of them in the woods and they flew around and through the woods all morning long, terrorizing the other birds.
We spent over four hours wandering the woods and beach at Montrose and had a great time birding. Hope you get out somewhere special, too. Happy Birding!