December 24th – And So It Begins

A poor picture…but you get the idea: my SNBU banding site at the York Airport. -DOL

I’m sorry about the poor quality of the above picture, taken through the windshield of my car, but….this is my Snow Bunting banding site near the York Airport. This past year it grew corn, which was cut quite low leaving a short stubble. In the foreground is a gravel pad which the farmer uses as a loading area for the corn that is taken off. If you look carefully at the far end of the pad you will see two dark patches: one just left of centre and the other right. Now, if this was a good photo you would see that these two “patches” are, in fact, Horned Larks. At least that’s what I first thought. but a closer examination showed that one of them held the first Snow Bunting of the season mixed in with some larks!! A female. I love it when theory and practice come together: I’ve been preaching that Horned Larks draw buntings. And that’s exactly what has happened. There has been a flock of larks at the bait for the past 3 weeks and first thing this morning there was a group of 25. The bunting showed up about 2 hours later.

Looking at this picture you wouldn’t get the impression that we’d just been through a major Winter storm. Since Thursday the temperature has plunged about 20 degrees; the wind picked up to the point it was blowing steadily at 40 km/hr with gusts to 80; and we got about 20-30 cm of snow. You can clearly see that the wind has blown the snow away from the field – and most fields in the area. However, there are considerably drifts behind any sheltering obstacles – cars, houses, shrubs, etc. I gave some thought to putting out some traps and trying to band but the traps, despite their open mesh, act as snow fences and they soon fill up with snow, covering the corn and filling in the entrances. So…maybe tomorrow….as a Christmas present to myself.

Snow Buntings also showed up at Lise Balthazar’s place in Lanark County. -LB

Snow Buntings showed up all around. Lise Balthazar in Lanark County is a keen observer and she reported her first bunting on the 21st and a flock of 20 today. She feeds much larger groupings – they’re still on their way. [Instead, she’s entertaining a flock of >100 Evening Grosbeaks.]


Evening Grosbeaks -Lise Balthazar

Locally, Marnie reported a flock of 15 Snow Buntings at her site on Irish Line and Karen spotted a flock of ~20 on Onondaga Town Line @ Green’s Road.
If this “good” bunting weather holds, it could be a very interesting Winter season1

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