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)