April 27th – Raw Amphibian Lust!

By an unusual quirk of scheduling fate both Loretta and I were at Ruthven Park this morning. Other than at special events or when groups are booked to come in it is actually pretty rare for Ruthven banders to meet. There must have been some strange energies released by this uncommon occurrence since there were a plethora of migrants around and the high winds that arose to mar an otherwise glorious day came up only after the nets were being closed.

The day started with a small group of Northern Pintail, the first of the season, heading up river. These were followed by a small flight of five individual Common Loons heading northwards – then, oddly, a group of three loons heading southward. Perhaps they followed the wrong landmarks or got concerned by talk of swine flu. Also heading southward was a pair of Green Heron, also new for the year.

Warblers have begun to trickle through with groups of Yellow-Rumped Warblers in the valley behind the station and a flock of Western Palm Warblers – another first of the year – observed feeding along the shoreline opposite Slink’s Island.

There were many White-Throated Sparrows around, as can be expected at this time of year, but both Field and Swamp Sparrows were present in some number. Surprisingly no Eastern White-Crowned Sparrows around yet – there have been many sightings in Hamilton and Brantford amongst other places – but if conditions hold they should be around tomorrow.

Birds more commonly associated with winter/early spring – Slate-Coloured Junco, Pine Siskin, and Golden-Crowned Kinglet – were also present.

The first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and House Wren of the year were captured, and a Purple Martin briefly joined the swirl of male and female Tree Swallows foraging over the Butterfly Meadow.

Two foreign banded birds, an American Goldfinch and a Tree Swallow, were amongst those birds recaptured.

The sounds of raw amphibian lust filled the air throughout the day, competing with bird song and the squelch of rubber boots being extracted from clinging mud. Northern Leopard Frog, American Toad, Western Chorus Frog, and Northern Spring Peeper were all shamelessly competing to pass on their gametes…the toads especially in a gender- and species-ignoring frenzy.

Another Black Swallowtail (there was one on the weekend as well) ignored the rabble of amorous amphibians.

A total of 56 species were recorded on the day.

Banded: 61
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 3
American Goldfinch 6
Pine Siskin 6
Chipping Sparrow 5
Field Sparrow 5
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-Rumped Warbler 3
Tree Swallow 4
Swamp Sparrow 4
Purple Finch 2
White-Throated Sparrow 12
Red-Winged Blackbird 7
Common Grackle 1
Mourning Dove 2

Retrapped: 21
American Goldfinch 3
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 1
Yellow Warbler 2 (one banded as a SY in 2005)
House Wren 1
Pine Siskin 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Tree Swallow 2
White-Throated Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 3
Eastern Bluebird 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Brown-Headed Cowbird 1


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