Nelson's Sparrows in Chicago

I'm back in Chicago this week to attend Heather's Senior Day at IIT next Saturday and in the intervening period, take in a couple of her games and do some birding whilst she's at college. Yesterday we had a trip to South Bend, Indiana and joined the team after the game at one of the platers homes nearby. The house was situated out of town in a complex surround by natural woodland so it shouldn't have been a surprise to see a Pileated Woodpecker in the back garden! Add to that Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker and some more regular birds and it was a very pleasant break in the trip!

This-morning was my first chance to get out to do some proper birding, leaving Heather to have a deserved lie-in, so I had to head to Montrose Point and the "Magic Hedge". I made my way out onto the dunes around 7am to join a few birders who'd been looking for Nelson's Sparrows. There were several around (unusually so) and I jammed in on one pretty much straight away. I then spent the next hour or so watching these furtive but distinctive sparrows as they ran through the grasses and managed to get a picture.
Nelson's Sparrow, Montrose Dunes
There were plenty of Sedge and Marsh Wrens in the dunes as well as the meadow and Palm Warblers were extremely prevalent (doesn't seem all that long ago that we were inundated with Palm Warblers in Cuba!).
Sedge Wren
Palm Warbler
Chimney Swifts buzzed overhead whilst on the beach there were only Ring-billed Gulls and no shorebirds. Other birds out here were House Finch (2), Bobolink (3), Magnolia Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Savannah Sparrows, a single Lincoln's Sparrow and several White-throated Sparrows by the path. As I entered the Magic Hedge, a fine male American Redstart showed - there were plenty more females/immatures around the area.

I wandered around the meadow and Magic Hedge for a couple of hours chatting to the locals and getting some splendid views especially around the drinking pools.
Brown Thrasher
Grey Catbird
Other stuff seen today: Sora (2), Ovenbird (2), Chestnut-sided Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellowthroat (several), Swainson's Thrush (10+), Grey-cheeked Thrush, Flicker, Red-headed Woodpecker, American Robin, Winter Wren, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch (lots), Least Flycatcher and an escaped diminutive Orange-cheeked Waxbill. Now to investigate options for tomorrow!

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