That being said, for this fall's shorebird migration, I decided that I wouldn't miss a single bird. How does one do that? You need to be at Montrose ALL THE TIME. So that's exactly what I did. Starting on July 15th, (the start of sizeable shorebird flights on Lake Michigan) I was at Montrose daily, usually at sunrise, then again in the evenings. July is still very early on in shorebird migration, so most outings were dull, hot, and uneventful; but you never know when that good bird is going to drop in.
Before all of the shorebird action was underway, I did add one other year bird, a Broad Winged Hawk at Columbia Woods in the Palos area! During migration, Broad Winged Hawks will stream overhead in groups by the hundreds, but a bird on breeding territory in Cook County is an uncommon sight.
#256. Broad Winged Hawk
At the time, the beach was still closed due to Covid (hence the heavily cropped photo), but could easily be viewed from a nearby stone wall. On the flip side, a long overdue Sanderling was another nice pickup.
Western Sandpiper #258
Earlier in the day, I jokingly told some other birders I would be spending my afternoon "sitting at Montrose waiting for Whimbrels." The first part of that sentence was entirely true - I'd be at Montrose for the rest of the afternoon, waiting to see what would drop in. The joke? Me claiming I was going to Montrose to "wait for Whimbrels" on a sweltering 90 degree afternoon in mid July...said no one ever!
By 3:00 I was so hot and uncomfortable I thought of giving in. There were no shorebirds in sight, but just as I was folding up the legs of my tripod preparing to walk the hot sand back to the car, I heard it's distinctive "ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki."
I turned just in time to see a massive shorebird with a long, down-curved bill land on the beach right in front of me. No freaking way...WHIMBREL!!! I put my camera up, hands shaking as I tried to capture a photo. After less than a minute, the bird was back in the air heading southwest over the sanctuary. I let out a huge sigh of relief, and smiled...classic Whimbrel.
And for my reward, I was just able to catch this Stilt Sandpiper in the fading light at Techny Basin, adding another fantastic year bird to my list.
#260. Stilt Sandpiper
#261 Neotropic Cormorant
(7/30) I was doing my typical routine at Montrose, waiting to see what would drop in. Simon and I had just walked onto the beach to try and photograph the bands of a migrant Piping Plover to pass the time, when my phone buzzed.
"Red Knot in the fluddle at Montrose."
What??!! We whipped our heads around and watched as a large red shorebird flew by and landed in the plover enclosure right next to us. The Red Knot had shown up at Montrose! This marked year bird #262 for me, breaking my own personal record of 261 from 2018. Props to Aerin Tedesco for first finding the bird!
#262. Red Knot
Number of species seen in Cook County this July: 121
Number of year birds gained: 7