Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 18th/19th, 2010

Another quick update, time once again being at a premium!

Under partly cloudy skies and light northerly winds, Saturday produced 111 birds of 26 species, including the first Orange-crowned Warbler of the Autumn, along with the first White-crowned Sparrow. Other notable numbers were 12 Nashville Warblers, 5 Tennessee Warblers, 5 Red-eyed Vireos and 22 American Goldfinches. Passing overhead were six Broad-winged Hawks and a dozen or so Sharp-shinned Hawks. Half an hour before dawn, an Eastern Screech Owl was....well....screeching, I suppose.

Sunday was sunny and warmer, with a light westerly wind. A bit too sunny for the lower station, but of little impact up on the hill at the farm location, where the flocks of Goldfinches and Sparrows are beggining to assemble. In fact, only 23 birds were caught at the lower station, whereas 85 were banded at the farm, including Swamp Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, 5 Savannah Sparrows and 20 Song Sparrows. Also there is numbers were American Goldfinches, with 42 banded! On the river flats, it was very quiet, although there was a large roost of White-throated Sparrows in the shrubs on the river bank. 7 of these were trapped, as were a late Warbling Vireo, and the first movement of Common Yellowthroats. A young Bald Eagle spent a brief amount of time in a tree by the river, before heading upstream....perhaps the first of the winter residents returning?

So slow was it at the lower station, that Georg and I had time to watch some Father Ted excerpts on Georg's Blackberry.......in honour of that, I attempted to upload a picture of our favourite character, Father Jack Hackett. regrettably, something prevented that happening.....not sure why!

Final total for the weekend was 220 birds, of 31 species. We need one more Gray Catbird for an Autumn century, and 2 more Tennessee Warblers for an even 50!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Update as of 12th September, 2010

It's been a while since the last report, so now it's time to bring things up to date, albeit just a brief summary.

Three weekends have passed us by, and during that time, much migration has taken place, with a high diversity of species being banded during the period. As of last weekend (11th/12th September), a total of 515 birds of 44 species have been banded. This is a great improvement over 2009, and it seems pretty clear that many species have enjoyed a far more productive breeding season in 2010.

Highlights include a total (so far) of 38 Tennessee Warblers (previous highest total 15), 21 Warbling Vireos (15) and 91 Gray Catbirds (70). Daily totals are generally higher too, and I am left wondering how we woukld have fared had we had daily coverage, rather than being restricted to weekends.

A couple of new birds have been added to the list, namely Ovenbird, a common Ontario Summer visitor, but because of the habitat in which the nets are placed, scarcer than rocking horse crap around the study area.....and last weekend, a cracking Clay-coloured Sparrow. The most unusual bird though, was trapped on Sunday, and perhaps presented the most unusual sight in over thirty years of banding. Although by no means uncommon to catch Cedar Waxwings, this particular individual had no beak, either as a result of some genetic defect, or possibly damage shortly after hatching. There's no real way for us to know, but in spite of the supposed handicap, the bird was healthy and of average weight for the species.

This weekend looks promising from a weather perspective, but as always, you never really know until the nets are opened and the day unfolds.

Two images this week, courtesy of Georg Hentsch. The Clay-coloured Sparrow, and of course, the beakless Cedar Waxwing. I will leave it to you to decide which is which......