September 15th – Catching Up

It’s been a hectic four days in which I’ve been bouncing back and forth, splitting my time between the Farm and Fern Hill School’s Burlington campus. The Farm is magic with it’s acres of waving prairie grasses – which will be augmented tomorrow with a planting of over 1200 native wildflower plugs. It’s really exciting to watch how this project unfolds and to see its impact on the natural life of the area. Fern Hill is also magic but in a much different way: if you stand at the field studies building (aka banding hut) and look south all you can see is the buildings and highways of Hamilton but leading to it is a wonderful green corridor of edge habitat that Fern Hill provides. Over the years we’ve shown that it provides an important route for migrating passerines, providing food and shelter.
September 12th – Fern Hill: The first thing we had to do was clear net lanes and get a start on putting up nets. We managed to only erect and run two….but it was a start.
Banded 12:
1 House Wren
1 Gray Catbird
1 Cedar Waxing
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Nashville Warblers
5 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
ET’s: 20 spp.

September 13th – the Farm:
A significant migration had been forecast for the night of the 12th but I find these things are sort of like weather forecasts: sometimes they’re right and sometimes…. An influx of migrants was NOT evident, although we did get a few “new” birds. If anything, a large number of our edge-loving sparrows had heard the prediction and had decided to take off and join in the rush.
Banded 27:
2 Eastern Wood Pewees
1 Yellow-bellied flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
2 Eastern Phoebes
1 Red-eyed Vireo
2 House Wrens
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Cedar Waxwing
4 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
4 Swamp Sparrows
2 Common Yellowthroats
2 Bay-breasted Warblers
1 Indigo Bunting
ET’s: 33 spp.

September 14th – Fern Hill
I was busy clearing another net lane when teacher Alex Webb (henceforth just Alex) brought a class of grade ones around to see how this thing was done. I was talking to them about birds when this one little guy pointed up to one soaring overhead. Great! A Red-tailed Hawk. But then….HOLY MACKERELS! High above the red-tail were a bunch of dots circling in a thermal. These dots, on closer scrutiny turned out to be a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks. And behind it was another kettle of them….and then another. Circling dots are very difficult to count but I estimated that there were over 100 between the 3 groupings. The grade ones moved on probably wondering what the big deal was and certainly thinking that this old guy was making much ado about nothing. Broad-wings continued to move in from the east, catch the rising thermal, quickly reaching great heights before breaking out of it and moving on to the SW. I counted well over 200 Broad-wings.Just as quickly as it had started, it ended. I became aware of this migratory movement at 9:30 and it was finished at 10:05. What a marvellous passage. I wonder how far they got before roosting for the night.

The possible nucleus of the next Bird Club. These grade 8 girls were a great help in putting up the remaining 3 nights. -DOL

Banded 19:
1 Northern Flicker
4 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Gray Catbird
2 Red-eyed Vireos
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Black-throated Warbler
1 Bay-breasted Warbler
4 Common Yellowthroats
ET’s: 29 spp.

September 15th – the Farm:
The cool temperatures last night knocked the mosquitoes back: they weren’t a factor until the sun was well up around 10 and even then weren’t nearly so aggravating as they’ve been earlier. Still, there’s always that one that seems to find your ear hole with its incessant drone….There wasn’t a lot of activity in the treetops or along the edges, although the first round was pretty good. After that it was slow but steady with all nets catching. With today’s catch of 42 birds, our Fall total stands at 152, with only 4 days of operation. Last year, when the weather was so lousy, we managed only 96 birds banded over 10 days. So is it just weather making the difference or is the “new” field having an impact. My guess is that both are involved. Interestingly, 42% of the birds banded are seed-eating sparrows.
Banded 42:
3 Eastern Wood Pewees
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
3 Gray Catbirds
11 Song Sparrows
3 Lincoln’s Sparrows
3 Swamp Sparrows
8 Common Yellowthroats
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Myrtle Warbler
2 Black-throated Green Warblers
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Indigo Bunting
ET’s: 30 spp.

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