Sam the Weatherman – the prognosticator of prognosticators. -DOL
(A theme inspired by the wit of Amy Thorne)
So there we were: a motley group of 9 huddled inside the tiny banding hut, listening to the drumming of the rain on the metal roof. Not a great night for catching Saw-whet Owls. But it was playing a long shot. The rain forecast for the morning of the 4th didn’t materialize other than a few brief sprinkles in the early morning. We opened nets fully prepared to close them down quickly if Mother Nature changed her mind…but She didn’t and we ended up handling 98 birds – 63 new bands and 35 retraps, almost all sparrows. Liam did a great job banding most of them while I scribed. So much for weather forecasts.
There was just a possibility of rain in the evening so we felt it was worth taking a chance. Besides we would have Sam, the “Weatherman”, with us who has his finger on the meteorological pulse and we knew we could count on him to guide our decisions….
We opened with great hopes, even expectations, despite Sam’s admonishments that rain was on the way. He sat in his portable weather chair, eyes glued to the screen of his phone’s weather radar app, telling us that not only was it on the way but indicating how many minutes it would be until it struck. Can you really believe everything you see on the internet? Not when your hopes want a different scenario. So we downplayed the weather map…and then had to hustle out to collapse the nets. This was after we had already done a couple of net rounds and found nothing.
Liam and Ben – only super-keen young birders would show up for night-time owling sporting binoculars…. there’s sooo much to see.
The rain picked up and all eyes were on the weatherman. And then the rain stopped, as fast as it had begun. We rejoiced and prepared to re-open. “Not so fast”, says Sam and he held up the map for everyone to see. A doughnut hole had descended around us – we were in the “eye” of the storm as it were. Sam’s prediction: 6 minutes before it rained again. And what lay on the other side of the doughnut hole? Rain and more rain. The stoppage was really just a “sucker hole”. There was nothing for it but to close up shop.
But there was a bright side to all this. The confinement in such close quarters of such a bright set of individuals produced some great ideas around how to make the banding hut better. Amy’s idea was picked up by the rest of the crew and firmly endorsed: we needed a small wood-burning stove in the back corner of the hut. It would take the edge off frosty mornings and freezing nights. It would promote conviviality amongst the participants. And then it got better: we could brew tea or, even better, pots of chili for owling nights or…or…bacon and eggs after the nets were opened in the early morning.
So, we didn’t get any owls but we did get some great ideas for future directions. There is something to be said for doughnut holes and bird aficionados in a confined space getting out of the rain.
November 4th; Banded 63:
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
8 House Finches
11 American Goldfinches
3 Field Sparrows
23 American Tree Sparrows
An anomaly: American Tree Sparrow with symmetrical white leucistic rectirces – R3. -DOL
11 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
5 Swamp Sparrows
This morning, the 5th, the only evidence of last night’s rain, was a few puddles in the net lanes and the squelch of mud underfoot along parts of the banding trail to the nets. It was quiet at first but as soon as the sun got up the meadow and edge became alive with movement and song. We opened for about 5 hours and handled another 72 birds: 43 banded, 29 retraps. Again, a large majority were sparrows.
November 5th; Banded 43:
6 American Goldfinches
1 Field Sparrow
10 American Tree Sparrows
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 White-throated Sparrows
14 Song Sparrows
6 Swamp Sparrows
Karen tracked down that elusive Eastern Towhee that seems to be eluding everyone….well…me, anyway. -KMP
Immature White-crowned Sparrow; one of two along the eastern hedge row. -KMP
Some of the new bird bags crafter by Laurel and Kate. Thanks!! -LR
Meadowhawks were out today enjoying the late morning sun and warmth. -KMP
Adult Bald Eagle moving above the trees. -LR
There’s a few Purple Finches mixing in with House Finches attending the West feeder. -KMP
A scolding black-capped Chickadee. -LR