September 24th – An Insidious Plot

Now I’m the last one to assign any anthropomorphic meaning to natural events but there was something insidious lurking about this morning. Right from the net opening in the unnaturally humid heat (22 degrees at 6:00 AM! )there was a brooding presence that was almost palpable. And in the background….the moaning of the wind. The wind continued to build throughout the morning to the point that we were seeing gusts of over 60 km/hour. I had opened most of the nets in the (mistaken) belief that they were somehow sheltered from these blasts by the trees (oh how expectant hope clouds one’s thinking!).

The birds too felt that there was something not quite right. They stayed away in droves! In fact, it was the quietest banding day since the end of the Spring migration and we encountered only 33 species on the day. And then I could see the plot: it was a conspiracy set off by the trees, aided and abetted by this wind. Once they could see the nets were up and that hopes were high, the trees just let go and called in the wind to blow every dropped leaf into the nearest net. It was hell! The usual half hour job of closing the nets turned into a 3-hour ordeal and all the while the wind moaned (and chortled) and the trees threw leaves at us. You could question the “intent” of the trees, whether they were sentient enough to act at this level. Well, yes, they can. They didn’t drop a pile of leaves during the night when the nets were closed but held off until they were open and ready to catch….and catch they did!

But not birds – we handled only 31 (although one of them, a Blue-headed Vireo was a first for the season).

It’s funny how things can work out sometimes: Liz Vanderwoude (who is turning into a great scribe) showed up with a bum leg that has been a problem for some time and limits her mobility; and, out of the blue (and all the way from Kitchener), Ruth Kinzie arrived to check things out, to see if they were as exciting and rewarding as reported on this blog. Ruth just happens to be a physiotherapist. So I left them to discuss the pros and cons of different treatment methods (although I felt amputation was a little harsh) while I did a round to sift through the leaves for birds. What are the chances?

Banded 16:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Yellow-shafted Flicker
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
1 American Robin
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped)
1 Wilson’s Warbler
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows

Retrapped 15:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Yellow-shafted flicker
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
6 Chipping Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 33 spp.


One thought on “September 24th – An Insidious Plot

  1. lol! In spite of the wind, humidity and low number of birds it was a great day, but I didn’t have to stick around to take down the nets. I missed the Vireo and Kinglet 🙁
    All those sirens were heard were for the plane which crashed in the Grand River near Caledonia. I felt awful when I passed there on the way home, but then I heard the two people were not injured. The wind made it a bad day for anything with wings.

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