Friday, October 2, 2009

Last weekend in September

The season advances inexorably to its conclusion (for us at any rate) at the end of October. August seems so long ago, as the temperatures fall, the leaves turn red and gold, and the water droplets freeze the nets shut!! As might be expected, the mix of species changes by the week, as the later migrants begin to appear in numbers.
This weekend saw our largest catch yet, although the impromptu session on Thursday certainly helped boost the numbers. 74 birds were captured on Thursday, with a further 181 on Saturday and Sunday, bringing the Autumn total to 923, of 60 species. New additions were an Eastern Wood Peewee and Blue-headed Vireo, as well as the first Orange-crowned Warbler of the season. Other arrivals included White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and we also noted a significant increase in American Goldfinches. Fifteen Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers were a suprise at the Farm location.
It looks like things are slowing down at the river location, even the Ospreys have lost interest and moved to warmer climes, so this coming weekend will probably be our last there, as we move everything to the farm for the final three weekends of the 2009 Fall season.
Photos of Orange-crowned Warbler, Peewee and Blue-headed Vireo courtesy of my good friend, the ever dependable Georg Hentsch!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update as of September 20th

A very quick update, covering the last two weekends. 12th/13th was very slow, with a total of 79 birds captured, of 20 species. New for the site was a hatch year Eastern Bluebird. Brett's tape luring of Savannah Sparrows proved quite successful, with nineteen banded.
Things improved at the farm location for the weekend of 19th/20th September, as the various sparrows and Goldfinches finally showed up in numbers. A total of 179 birds were banded, with a further, and very paltry 29 at the river site. Although only seperated by a few hundred metres, the difference in numbers at the two sites was quite remarkable.....but, given the clear weather conditions for several days and nights, the species to be expected along the river never bothered stopping. Sparrows and Goldfinches, on the other hand, find the organic farm and seed fields to be irresistible. The hedgerows are also attracting a few warblers, which is a bonus! Three new species were added to the station list, these being 11 Chipping Sparrows, a Grasshopper Sparrow, and a Pine Warbler. Using the tape lure, a further 23 Savannah Sparrows were banded, bringing the total for this species to 45....not bad considering only one was caught in the whole of 2008.
Pictures of Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow courtesy of Georg Hentsch.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labour Day Weekend

After a relaxing Saturday enjoying the sights of the Toronto Islands, including the air show, and of course the poofters, it was back to the business of banding migrants on Sunday and Monday. The weather was warm and sunny after the early morning fog, not exactly ideal conditions for dropping migrants on to the property, especially with the clear nights and full moon. Although quantity was lacking, it was made up for by quality, including a Connecticut Warbler, only the third record for the property! Interestingly, an early White-throated Sparrow put in an appearance, no doubt the first of many to come our way!
In alphabetical order, the totals were as follows:
American Goldfinch 5
American Redstart 3
American Robin 3
Black and White Warbler 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 4
Connecticut Warbler 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Gray Catbird 10
House Wren 4
Indigo Bunting 2
Magnolia Warbler 5
Nashville Warbler 4
Ovenbird 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Red-eyed Vireo 14
Scarlet Tanager 1
Song Sparrow 10
Swainson's Thrush 2
Traill's Flycatcher 2
White-throated Sparrow 1
Warbling Vireo 3
Wilson's Warbler 2
Total 86, of 24 species.
Images of Connecticut Warbler and Ovenbird courtesy of Georg Hentsch.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Quiet times down by the river.......

In spite of a change in the weather to cooler, unsettled conditions, the light northerly breezes failed to deposit any numbers of migrants in the "Rare" study area. Nevertheless, diversity has increased, as might be expected as the Autumn migration starts in earnest. This weekend saw an overall reduction in birds banded (81), but an increase in the number of species to twenty-six, including the first Magnolia and Black and White Warblers. We also added an Eastern Kingbird to the year list, which now stands at fifty-six. Last year saw sixty-three species banded, so we are expecting that total to be surpassed very soon!

Two Ospreys continue to use the nesting platform as a home base, but the second pair that nested further upstream, appear to have departed. There were several raptors to be seen each day, this weekend producing Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, an American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawks, and of course, the Ospreys.

Totals banded on August 29th and 30th are as follows:

American Goldfinch 3
American Redstart 2
American Robin 4
Black and White Warbler 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Brown Thrasher 1
Canada Warbler 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
Common Grackle 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great-crested Flycatcher 1
Gray Catbird 6
House Wren 5
Indigo Bunting 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Magnolia Warbler 5
Red-eyed Vireo 11
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 10
"Traill's" Flycatcher 8
Warbling Vireo 5
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 3
Yellow-shafted Flicker 2

There are no pictures this week, as Georg, our trusty and rather hairy photographer was on a family excursion through the Rocky Mountains, where he no doubt saw lots of interesting birds, large mammals, and more than a few Red Necks.

Next weekend is the Labour Day weekend, so we'll be operating on Sunday and Monday.....Grace and I are off to Toronto Island on Saturday.....hopefully the weather will be good for the entire holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 22nd, 23rd.

Just a quick report for the second weekend of the Autumn banding season. The weather was generally cloudy, with occasional showers, and light winds from the west. The second young Osprey left the nest early on Saturday morning, to great sighs of relief, no doubt, from his/her parents!!

102 birds were banded over the two days, as follows:

American Goldfinch 12
American Robin 2
American Redstart 3
Baltimore Oriole 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Cedar Waxwing 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Gray Catbird 12
House Wren 6
Indigo Bunting 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-eyed Vireo 5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 7
Song Sparrow 32
"Traill's" Flycatcher 5
Warbling Vireo 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker 1

The coming weekend is looking somewhat dodgy from the weather perspective, but as we all know, the forecast changes more than the weather itself!

This week's image is of a Yellow-shafted (or Northern) Flicker, once again courtesy of Georg Hentsch.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer arrives in time for Autumn Banding!

Yes, we're back in action at last, after the Summer break. Not that the weather has been anything other than awful this year. Having said that, the heat and humidity normally to be expected at this time of year finally struck on the opening weekend.....forcing us to close early both days and retire to the porch for a well earned beer or two.

We are now able to operate two sites, thanks to the return of Brett from his duties down at Long Point Bird Observatory, and this was reflected in the weekend's catch. The early migrants are begining to trickle through the area, with two Yellow Warblers and four American Redstarts captured on Sunday. Two new species were added to the site list, when a Vesper Sparrow and three Great-crested Flycatchers were banded.

The Osprey pair are still feeding two well grown young, one of which was on the wing on Saturday, leaving the sibling flapping frantically on the nesting platform , but not yet quite ready to take the leap of faith! No doubt that will happen some time this week, while I'm stuck in the office. Oh well, at least we have air conditioning!

The total number of birds banded was 101, of 19 species, which is a very reasonable start, and comprises the following (in absolutely no logical order):

Brown Creeper 1
American Redstart 4
Field Sparrow 3
American Goldfinch 18
House Wren 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Yellow Warbler 2
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Northern Cardinal 3
Grey Catbird 12
Great-crested Flycatcher 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Savannah Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 39
Blue Jay 2

Images of Great-crested Flycatcher and Vesper Sparrow are again courtesy of Georg Hentsch and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the photographer. Not sure anything will happen if you do, but don't say you weren't warned.......

The weather looks set to change by next weekend, with cooler temperatures and northerly winds expected. This should spur some migrants to head south. As ever, time will tell!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bring on the Autumn Season!

The curtain has now fallen on the "Rare" Spring banding season. Although we didn't quite achieve our goal of 350, I blame the weather, with two mornings completely lost, and one "early closing." Would those losses have made a difference? I like to think they would!

Once again, the weather was less than kind. I got totally soaked setting up the nets on Friday evening, to the point where I could have entered a wet tee-shirt contest, had one been held anywhere near by. Saturday started off quite cool, but then the sun came out and the later morning was pleasant, if slightly breezy. 35 birds were banded, leaving a target of just 10 for Sunday......which is just as well. Considering it was the last day of May, the weather was, simply put, miserable (I was going to say crap, but that might offend people....therefore I won't describe the weather as crap....even though it was). Fortunately, although we were freezing our bits off, the wind didn't pick up until after we had banded our fourteenth and final bird of the day, bring the season's grand total to 304, and 45 species. Two new birds were added, one brand new for the project, a Hairy Woodpecker, and a new bird for this Spring, a female Mourning Warbler.

Migration has tapered off in this part of the world, as the birds settle into another breeding season. Hopefully the weather will be kind, and there will be a bumper crop of young birds for the Autumn campaign!

Here is the weekend breakdown:

American Redstart 7
"Traill's" Flycatcher 5
Yellow Warbler 1
House Wren 1
American Goldfinch 4
Common Yellowthroat 5
Cedar Waxwing 12
Gray Catbird 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Song Sparrow 1
Mourning Warbler 1
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Orchard Oriole 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Swainson's Thrush 1

Total 49, of 18 species.

My thanks to the crew, Georg, Erika, Josh, Brett, Larry, Bill, Amy and all the others who have assisted over the last few weeks. Without you all, this project would not exist!! Special thanks too to "Rare" for their unstinting support, and the use of this magnificent location. Once again, thanks to Georg Hentsch for the pictures of the crew (Georg is the chap peering over the wall!), Mourning Warbler, and Swainson's Thrush.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

23rd, 24th May.

Finally, the gods smiled, the sun shone, and the birds arrived....better late than never! 92 birds were banded over the two days, with three new species added to the ever expanding list for the "Rare" property. These are Black-billed Cuckoo, Orchard Oriole and Indigo Bunting.

On the downside, we learned that mist nets are no impediment to deer, with perhaps the most consistent catching site out of operation on Sunday, thanks to said deer. I hope the animal meets a sticky end.....preferably sooner rather than later! I never liked "Bamby" as a I know why.

For those of you who have commented about the colour of my nail polish in some of the images, it's lusterous pink, and you can get it at any pharmacy or Wal-Mart. Sorry about the chipped appearance, I'll try harder in future. The other person in the pictures is Erika, who coincidentally wears the same shade. She is the one holding the Black-billed Cuckoo, and looking all pleased with herself.......I hope that clears up the mystery, Tony!

Here is the list, again in random order:

Wilson's Warbler 4
Traill's Flycatcher 6
Common Yellowthroat 7
Yellow Warbler 10
American Goldfinch 11
House Wren 1
Warbling Vireo 3
Indigo Bunting 2
Baltimore Oriole 2
Gray Catbird 5
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 3
Song Sparrow 4
Orchard Oriole 4
Cedar Waxwing 8
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Starling 2
American Robin 1
Black-billed Cuckoo 3
Magnolia Warbler 2
Common Grackle 4
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Swainson's Thrush 2
American redstart 1
Total 92, of 26 species.

Not a bad weekend's tally, considering the lateness of the season. The upcoming weekend is our last for the Spring, so we are hopeful of adding to our current total of 255 birds, comprising 43 species.
Thanks again to Georg Hentsch for the images of Warbling Vireo, Orchard Oriole, and the lovely Erika with Black-billed Cuckoo.
See you again next week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thanks, Vicky!

I never thought Queen Victoria would be responsible for saving the weekend banding effort, but, in this case, that's exactly what she did! Without a holiday in her honour, I would have been sitting in my office, diligently working, and feeling right fed up with the weekend weather.....which was quite dreadful from a bander's perspective. Saturday was a rainswept, stormy day, and Sunday was windy as well as cold (max temp 7 degrees), although the sun shone all day long.
Which brings me to Monday, the Victoria Day holiday (cheers Vicky, wish you were here to have pint with the team!). A lovely sunny day, with just a gentle south westerly breeze, and best of all, quite a number of birds around the property. The local Yellow Warblers were engaged in frantic courtship display, a pair of Orchard Orioles were prospecting for suitable nest sites, and the first Least Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds made their welcome appearances. Also, finally, warblers were moving through the area, with lots of song greeting the rising sun. A total of 48 birds were banded during the session, of 16 species, as follows:

Magnolia Warbler 10
American Redstart 5
Wilson's Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 4
Common Yellowthroat 2
Black & White Warbler 1
Western Palm Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Myrtle Warbler 1
American Goldfinch 4
Baltimore Oriole 5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3
Gray Catbird 5
American Robin 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Northern Cardinal 2

Thanks once more to Georg Hentsch for the photographs, above, of a Blackpoll Warbler, and by way of contrast, a Black and White Warbler......and as I know you are all waiting to learn who received this week's "Doofus" award.....well, it was me, but I'm not telling you why!

The coming weekend looks like being a real corker from the weather standpoint, so we'll see if this translates into an increased catch, or if the birds, wisely, keep heading north while the going is good!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rain stops play!

This weekend, both the weather AND the birds conspired to make it an entirely forgettable effort. On Saturday we were forced to close early by a line of thunder storms crossing the region, although there weren't that many birds there anyway. After the storms passed through, it became very windy, then a cold front passed through overnight, with very strong north westerlies into Sunday morning. As it was far to windy to operate, the crew took down the nets early on Sunday morning, Erika fell in the swamp, thereby winning the day's "Doofus" award, and we were away just as it began to drizzle.

The Osprey pair is still in residence at the platform, and the female appears to be incubating, so there may yet be young Ospreys to band in July. Now, if Josh can procure the assistance of the local hydro company, we are in business!

Here is the list, such as it is, for Saturday morning:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Yellow Warbler 4
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
American Goldfinch 5
Gray Catbird 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3
Red-winged Blackbird 4
Common Yellowthroat 1
Eastern White crowned Sparrow 1
White throated Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Common Grackle 1

Total 25, of 12 species.

As always, we are looking forward to more success next weekend. According to the record books for the property, this is the weekend to expect the arrival of migrant warblers. Time will tell....

(picture of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Common Yellowthroat copyright of Georg Hentsch)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A little better......

We have now moved into the merry month of May, and migration is gathering pace as the birds rush northwards, eager to claim their breeding territories. Although the numbers are low here, there was a definite improvement as we head towards the peak movement period. This weekend saw fifty new birds banded, of seventeen species, as well as two more retrap Yellow Warblers from last May. This is particulary interesting as only 6 were banded last May, so we now know that at least one third survived the trip to the wintering grounds in Central America, and the return journey. One of last year's four Brown-headed Cowbirds was retrapped too, which was a bit of a surprise.

Saturday was disrupted by the visit of the Federal Minister of the Environment, and his Environment Canada entourage. The visit was in connection with a funding announcement for the Land Steward program, with banding crew just performing our usual duties and staying well in the background. Nevertheless, yours truly managed to get his ugly mug on the local t.v. station, demonstrating the banding process and using a very compliant Red-winged Blackbird as his subject!
Sunday was very quiet in comparison, with fewer visitors, and fewer birds too. However, the weather was warm and sunny, and the post banding beer, courtesy of Georg Hentsch, chilled to perfection!

The following were banded this weekend:
American Robin 4
Amercican Goldfinch 4
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 3
Cedar Waxwing 3
Field Sparrow 1
House Finch 1
House Wren 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Song Sparrow 4
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-throated Sparrow 5
Western Palm Warbler 3
Yellow Warbler 3
Next weekend should see the peak of migration through this area, although the weather forecast is not looking too promising, with rain expected on Saturday, and windy conditions on Sunday. Who knows though? The forecast here actually changes more often in the course of a week than the weather itself.

(Image of Cedar Waxwing courtesy of Georg Hentsch)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where are all the migrants?

Aparently, somewhere south, east, north and west of here. While Point Pelee and Long Point have seen the first big push of migrants, we have been less fortunate. The weather finally took a turn for the better on Friday, so there was a great deal of anticipation that Saturday would be the real start of the season for us. To an extent, I suppose it was. The day was warm and mainly sunny, but rather breezy from the south west. The numbers were disappointing, with a miserly total of 17 birds of eleven species caught on Saturday. Later in the day, a cold front passed through, with heavy rain and thunderstorms preventing any new birds moving in overnight......which accounts for Sunday's tally of eight. So, for those of you who are mathematically challenged, the weekend total was 25, of fourteen species. Numbers are poor, but diversity is increasing. Next weekend SHOULD be better, but as always, it all depends on weather systems.

On a slightly sadder note, we bade a temporary farewell to Brett, who is off to Long Point for the rest of the season. He did leave on a high note though, having won the prestigious "Doofus of the Day" award for Saturday, after failing to respond to his alarm clock(s). If you are reading this, Brett, good luck at LPBO and we look forward to welcoming you back in August!

Here is this weekend's breakdown (in no specific order):

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
American Goldfinch 2
Slate coloured Junco 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 3
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Song Sparrow 3
White throated Sparrow 3
Brown Thrasher 1
Red winged Blackbird 2
American Robin 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Field Sparrow 1
Myrtle Warbler 1

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Season kicks off in less than stellar style

The Spring 2009 field season started with a whimper on Saturday, April 18th.....and petered out completely the following day. The weather was fine, but with the recent cool northerly airstream over the province, the migrant passerines have yet to show any real inclination to head north, into the nets. Unfortunately the winds returned on Sunday, the temperature dropped significantly, and we closed down around 9 a.m. This did allow me to go home and watch the footy. Seeing the Mancs lose is always a highlight for me.....but then, being a Forest fan, I really have no reason to gloat!

A huge total of thirteen birds were captured on Saturday, followed by a miserable tally of two on Sunday....which featured a particularly nasty Northern Cardinal. They certainly look handsome, but their general disposition towards innocent banders leaves a lot to be desired.

Although the overall numbers were unimpressive, there were a few retraps from last year, one being a Song Sparrow originally banded on May 24th, an American Robin from last September, and a second year male American Goldfinch, trapped in October, and now just changing into his bright breeding plumage.

Although there was not a grat deal of migration evident, we were entertained by the sight of four Ospreys disputing territory. It seems as though one pair has taken up residence on the nesting platform, and were being challenged by two interlopers. Eventually the invaders drifted off to the north, no doubt seeking a suitable territory not already occupied.

Here is the breakdown:

Fox Sparrow 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
White throated Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Black-capped Chickadee 3
American Goldfinch 1
Song Sparrow 6

Next weekend looks to be more promising, at least according to the current long range forecast. we shall see!