This is the second in a series of posts looking back on the start of Turnstone Strategies. This post first appeared as the launch to a Kickstarter fundraising effort in July 2019.
Earlier this year I started birding more frequently at one of my favorite places, Montrose Point on the North Side of Chicago, which is perhaps a top-five birding locale nationally. Among the many birds passing through nearby Montrose Beach Dunes was a piping plover, Dodger, who spent most of the winter at the point. In fact, Dodger rang in 2019 at the point, the latest winter record for a piping plover in Illinois.
In May, I took a somewhat unexpected trip to northern Michigan. It just so happened that my destination was steps from a beach hosting several piping plover nests. I wasn't there to see the plovers, but happened upon them. I thought back to Dodger and sort of chuckled to myself.
Then something truly miraculous happened at Montrose -- a pair of endangered piping plovers began nesting there this June, the first nesting pair in Chicago in at least 64 years. The birds that became known as Monty and Rose set up in one of the busiest areas of one of the busiest beaches in Chicago.
I am launching this Kickstarter to get the funding to film and edit a short documentary, "Monty & Rose: The Endangered Piping Plovers of Montrose Point." The documentary will not result in any profits for me and will be used to raise awareness of the plovers and the conservation of Montrose Beach Dunes and Montrose Point. As of now, we have a short clip reel, featuring Monty, Rose and other birds and an interview with Chicago Ornithological Society President Carl Giometti.
If/when I have the funding, I would set up interviews with more birders and share further dimensions of the story. We also would have the budget for professional graphics, production, editing and possibly music.
Note: There has been quite a bit in the news lately about the plovers in relation to a concert planned for Montrose in August. The goal here is to lift the narrative above the concert issues and create something lasting to benefit the birds of this special site on the North Side of Chicago.
The piping plover has been a talisman of sorts for me in the past year. When Monty and Rose began demonstrating nesting behavior at Montrose Point it seemed too great an opportunity not to capture.
One other thing that motivated me: there was a birding documentary shot here in Chicago by a couple of guys from New York a few months ago. I'm not sure it captured the story of Montrose Point in the way I would tell it, or in a way that is true to the quirky nature of birding there. Frankly it bugged me that they flew in from New York without consulting local birders, who are a deeply knowledgeable group and a colorful cast of characters to boot. That's really stuck with me.
"Monty and Rose" will air on WTTW Channel 11 on Saturday, May 2, at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.montyandrose.net for more info.