Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It aint half hot, mum....

to quote the British t.v. comedy series from the 1970's, when I was a lot younger, thinner, and had a lot more hair on my head, not to mention a lot less on my back.......in other words, both Saturday and Sunday were hot and sunny, with plenty of humidity and not very many birds.

In fact, Saturday was the better of the two, with Warbling Vireos and "Traill's" Flycatchers very much in evidence. A total of 67 birds were banded, of fifteen species, including six Warbling Vireos, twenty-one American Goldfinches and five "Traill's" Flycatchers. All of the Vireos and Flycatchers had plenty of fat deposited, a sign that with a clear night, they would likely continue their journies south.

Needless to say, the birds got their wish, and it was little surprise that Sunday was very quiet. A grand total of fifteen birds were caught at the river location, with Brett and Erika adding a further thirty-three at the farm site. All nets were furled by 9:45 a.m., when the lack of birds and high temperatures forced us to close up early.

Gratuitous picture of Blackburnian Warbler (basic plumage)!

Final weekend numbers were as follows, in the normal totally random order that I like best:

Gray Catbird 15
American Robin 3
Warbling Vireo 7
Song Sparrow 17                                             
"Traill's" Flycatcher 7                                        
American Redstart 3
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
American Goldfinch 41
Tennessee Warbler 2
House Wren 2
Barn Swallow 5
Common Yellowthroat 1
Northern Cardinal 3
Wilson's Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
                                                                                                          Tennessee Warbler
As can be seen from these numbers, wood warblers are in short supply around the property, as the weather conditions are perfect for migration. Next weekend could be interesting, although possibly washed out if the remnants of Hurricane Isaac arrive here. We shall just have to wait and see.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Week 2, August 18th and 19th, 2012

Week two of the Autumn 2012 banding season was conducted under largely warm and sunny conditions, which are pleasant for the banding team and the monitoring crew, but not really conducive to catching migrants. The calm, clear, starry nights permit migrants to fly right over our station and continue southwards. Ideal conditions are a cold front, northerly breeze, and pre-dawn showers. What we got was sunshine on the nets, making them rather too visible. Having said that, we still managed a total of 103 birds, of twenty-two species. Thanks to the efforts of Brett and Erika at the Springbank Farm location, another new bird was added to the ever expanding list, Northern Rough-winged Swallow. In fact, they caught a total of thirteen, along with a further nine Barn Swallows. We have now banded 337 birds of 41 species in two weekends. Not too shabby......

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Birds overhead included a good number of Swallow species, a few Chimney Swifts, and the family of Ospreys. Pretty soon they will be leaving our area and south into the southern United States. In the meantime, they will continue to provide entertainment for the visitors to the property, especially when they are observed carry quite large goldfish back to the nesting platform! Other birds in reasonable numbers inncluded Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, as well as the omnipresent Grey Catbirds, which seem to have enjoyed another good breeding season.

Here are the totals:

American Robin 5
Grey Catbird 13
Song Sparrow 15
Northern Cardinal 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher 8
Downy Woodpecker 2
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Warbling Vireo 5
Nashville Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 2
House Wren 2
Red-eyed Vireo 8
Magnolia Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 13
Tennessee Warbler 2
Cedar Waxwing 1
Barn Swallow 9
American Goldfinch 6
Chipping Sparrow 1
Baltimore Oriole 2
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher 1

The forecast for next weekend isn't especially encouraging, with sunshine and high humidity, potentially in the low 40's celsius. I suspect that if that is the case, the post-banding cold beer will be especially welcome!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's been a while.....

Yes indeed, in fact it's been a year. If truth be known, I ran out of steam posting each week. However, the time has come to catch up, and hopefully continue weekly throughout the Autumn season. Where should I begin?

How about closing out 2011? O.K.....a total of 2,187 birds were banded during the Autumn season, which is a new record. 77 species were recorded, five of which were new for the station. This total is due in large part to Brett, who was able to operate on many more days, owing to his employment status.....I sort of hope in a completely selfish way that this will continue this season too!!

The highlight bird, for me at any rate, was the Golden-winged Warbler caught in early September. Other interesting captures included six Bobolinks, five Northern Saw-whet Owls and an Eastern Screech Owl. The highest total of any individual species was an excellent 905 American Goldfinches. Most of these were banded by Brett at the Springbank Farm location.

Moving now to the Spring of 2012, owing to vacation time in Poland, and Brett starting a breeding bird atlas project in Manitoba, only three weekend sessions were completed, starting in mid May. 170 birds were banded, of 38 species. New to the list was a Veery....by no means a rare bird, but as this is the first one banded here, it was outside of its normal habitat.

The Autumn session officially started on Saturday, August 11th, although Brett managed to get in three sessions during the week, plus an additional one on Monday. Thanks to these additional efforts, and a great Saturday, we banded 234 birds, of 36 species. Three new species were added on Sunday morning, thanks to low flying hirundines! New for the station were Bank Swallow (a.k.a. Sand Martin), Barn Swallow, and a Cliff Swallow. Also present in good numbers were 21 Baltimore Orioles, 4 Orchard Orioles and 13 Warbling Vireos.

                                                      Golden-winged Warbler


That's pretty much a quick summary of events, and we are now up to date at last. It is my intention to post information weekly, as in past years, but as you know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. However, I'll do my best......next official session is Saturday August 18th....Brett may even be there now, as I type this!