April 23rd – Another Wet, Soggy Morning

Emerging Bloodroot - first sign of our wildflowers. On the River Trail going down to the river.

I didn’t have to get going first thing this morning. The rain drumming on the kitchen skylight told me that. Usually I’m kind of anxious to get here and get the nets opened before the sun appears but there’s no sense in opening nets in the rain. Instead I had a nice breakfast and continued reading an excellent book: Seabirds, A Natural History by renowned CWS bird biologist Tony Gaston. (I’m getting geared up for my Summer sojourn to Svalbard Island in Arctic Norway to study Thick-billed Murres.) VERY ironically the opening words I read (and this is true) were: “Actually, most birds have waterproof feathers……A sparrow or a thrush with well-preened feathers avoids getting waterlogged in rain due to the water-repellence of its contour feathers: the rain bounces or runs off, just like on a tiled roof. The tiling arrangement of the feathers, overlapping one another in rows, helps to shed water. However, when a passerine is caught and hanging upside down in a mist-net, the system breaks down, birds get wet rapidly and death by hypothermia quickly ensues. That is why we don’t use mist-nets in the rain.”[p. 68] Ahhh, sweet justification. I think I’ll have another cup of tea, thank you very much……

The base of Net 10 - flood is even higher than on the 20th; compare pictures.

I arrived around 6:30 much refreshed. The wind, out of the ESE, was picking up and the rain was continuing to fall. A look at the rain gauge showed that we’d had 20 mm overnight. I went down to the creek below net 10 and it was flowing even higher than it was on April 20th (scroll back and compare pictures). I set out all the ground traps to see what we might get. After about half an hour the rain stopped…briefly….so I opened two nets…briefly (the reprieve lasted only for 30 minutes before I had to close them). After closing the nets and banding the birds out of them and out of the traps, I did a census. The wind had picked up even more making hearing birds much more difficult. A large section of the River Trail was under water as was part of the Carolinian Trail (see pictures) necessitating a major detour. On the whole, there wasn’t much around. Mike Furber arrived and we just ran traps. However, over the course of the morning the rain stopped, the wind backed to the WSW and picked up even more, the skies began to clear, and the temperature rose to shirt-sleeve conditions. If the wind drops tonight I’m thinking that tomorrow could be a pretty interesting day….

A flooded section of the (appropriately named) River Trail

Carolinian Trail just below junction with the Fox Den Trail - compare with April 20th picture.

Banded 6:
1 Mourning Dove
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 37:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
10 American Tree Sparrows
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
9 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
6 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.


Leave a Reply