October 2nd – A Nice Fall Day

Blue-headed Vireos arrive earlier than the other vireos and leave the north later. -RV

[I first met Renessa…and her family….a good number of years ago when they would visit the banding program. You could tell even then that she was quite keen. But then she dropped off the face of the earth and when she emailed me in the Summer to see about volunteering as a bander-in-training I said sure but didn’t recognize the name. I arranged to meet her at the Lowville Park parking lot. When she came walking up to me I recognized the face right away but it was sitting on top of a frame that was a LOT taller than when I first knew her. She is currently in the 4th year of an ecology/environmental program at Redeemer university. As well, she is majoring in English as she wants to write about the world around her. So…..I asked her to write something for the blog:]

As an amateur birder, I’m learning that the joy of banding lies in showing up and being surprised. Expectations are unnecessary; it’s tricky to say which species you’ll catch, if the morning will be slow-paced, fast-paced, or a bit of both. I’ve been reading a lot of Annie Dillard lately, and she has a lot of interesting things to say on the power of observing nature. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she writes, “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The least we can do is try to be there”.

This Saturday was the busiest banding morning I’ve attended at Lowville, with a fast hit as soon as we opened the nets. We were lucky to have eight banders on board, but even still, we had to “ring and fling” in order to keep up with the inrush of birds. By 9:00, banding slowed as the birds settled down to roost. A highlight from the morning was catching a Blue-headed Vireo.

Blue-headed Vireo. -RG

Lowville: 31 banded of 9 species
2 Black-capped Chickadees

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet (note the red on the head). -RG

7 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Hermit Thrushes
1 Blue-headed Vireo

One of those “confusing fall warblers” – in this case, a Tennessee. -RG

3 Tennessee Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
5 Song Sparrows
9 White-throated Sparrows

Chinook Salmon at the end of the road – they will die after spawning. -RV

Bird migration isn’t the only observable change we’ve been seeing. Bronte Creek is packed with salmon who have finally made their way back to their spawning grounds. From where I stood in this picture, I counted twenty-five salmon directly around me, and I’d estimate there were over fifty in this stretch of the creek.

Shadow Darner. -RV

A Shadow Darner got caught in one of our nets, and we were able to get it out with minimal difficulty. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture before we got it out, but here’s one that we caught a couple weeks ago.

There’s something powerful about witnessing a migration and the way it marks time outside of human activity. Although this knowledge is probably familiar to seasoned birders, I’m delighted by the way banding forces me to pay attention and be marked by the changing seasons. Showing up is the very least I can do, after all, and wonder is its inevitable gift.

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