Chris and Geoff Williamson led a nature walk to Montrose Point in Chicago's Lincoln Park on 27 July 2013. The weather was unseasonably cool, with the temperature at only 61 degrees Fahrenheit and with winds blowing from the northwest at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The skies were mostly cloudy.

When all was said an done, we had observed 35 species of birds, two species of mammals (aside from human beings and domestic dogs), and one butterfly species. Lists of those species along with the number observed are provided at the end of this report.

The day began at the beach. Looking northwest we could see the lakefront neighborhoods of Edgewater and Rogers Park.

To the east were the fishhook pier. We had both Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls on the beach.

While we were on the beach, one group of birds that was very noticeable were the swallows. We saw five of the six regularly occurring species for our area. Though swallows are often flying around quite fast, we did get good looks at some of them perched on the ropes that cordon off areas around some of the beach vegetations. We saw several Barn Swallows and Northern Rough-Winged Swallows perched on the rope. Both of these swallow species were quite numerous, foraging over the Montrose Beach Dunes. We also saw one Tree Swallow and one Cliff Swallow at the dunes.We knew where to find the Purple Martins: at their house! There we also observed some of the baby martins, poking their heads out of the nest holes.

It was a little trickier to get good looks at the swallows while flying, and to figure out which species you were looking at. We practiced on the swarms of Barn Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows that were foraging over the beach. Here is one of the Northern Rough-winged Swallows. We talked about looking for the dirty throat on this species.

Mixed in with the swallows were Chimney Swifts, which have an altogether different shape. We saw a Chimney Swift showing quite a bit of wear on its wing and tail feathers, indicating that it is an adult bird (that is, not one of the ones born this year).

One bird that WAS born this year was a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, that was finding seeds to eat in the park grass while seeming to be oblivious to our group as it passed by.

At the beach, we observed some of the summer resident Killdeer.

Christine pointed out some of the interesting plants around Montrose Point's "water feature," which she was instrumental in getting into the nature sanctuary development plans.

A mammal species that has found the enhanced natural areas of the Montrose Point Sanctuary very attractive is Eastern Chipmunk. Here is one posing on a tree trunk. The species was very scarce in Lincoln Park in year"s past, but now that is much more habitat for their growing park population.

Our group spotted a Gray Catbird in the Magic Hedge at Montrose.  Singing in one of the taller trees that grows in the Magic Hedge was a lovely male Northern Cardinal.

List of birds species, with number observed:

Canada Goose 48

Mallard 45

Double-crested Cormorant 150

Great Blue Heron 2

Black-crowned Night-Heron 1

Killdeer 2

Spotted Sandpiper 1

Semipalmated Sandpiper 2

Ring-billed Gull 122

Herring Gull 5

Caspian Tern 5

Chimney Swift 90

Downy Woodpecker 2

Empidonax sp. 1

Eastern Kingbird 3

American Crow 1

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 85

Purple Martin 87

Tree Swallow 1

Barn Swallow 102

Cliff Swallow 1

Black-capped Chickadee 2

American Robin 21

Gray Catbird 1

European Starling 34

Cedar Waxwing 13

Yellow Warbler 3

Song Sparrow 3

Northern Cardinal 4

Red-winged Blackbird 15

Common Grackle 12

Brown-headed Cowbird 2

House Finch 8

American Goldfinch 8

House Sparrow 51

 

List of mammal species, with number observed.

Eastern Chipmunk 2

Eastern Cottontail 1

 

List of butterfly species, with number observed.

Cabbage White 3