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Autumn ringing, week 10

A pretty slow week ringing-wise with only 357 birds captured. Great week for visible migration though with plenty of Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, duck (mainly Mallard but some Pintail, Gadwall and American Wigeon) and gulls (Ring-billed and Franklins).

11th September 2009

A slow and drizzly day cut short when the rain came down heavier at 10am. There was a large movement of Ring-billed Gulls throughout the morning (do they know something we don’t?). Only 22 birds caught and ringed, nothing unusual. I did census and managed 23 species, the only warblers being Myrtles, Northern Waterthrush and Common Yellowthroat. The number of swallows is noticeably fewer now. Had over 330 Ring-billed Gulls and 70 Double-crested Cormorants. A couple of adult Bald Eagles flying low over the ridge made an impressive sight.

Saw this on our way out for evening birding

Saw this on our way out for evening birding

No. ringed today: 22
No. of species today: 14
Ringed so far this season: 4055

12th September 2009

Quiet peaceful day – no students, no tourists, no visitors – not that we’re anti-social or anything ;-) Two new species for the Autumn – a Slate-coloured Junco that was, unbelieveably, still in juvenile plumage, something neither of us had ever seen before.

Slate-coloured Junco which hasn't yet undergone it's post-juvenile moult

Slate-coloured Junco which hasn't yet undergone it's post-juvenile moult

We also caught our first Western Palm Warbler for the Autumn. Net 8 caught a family party of Hairy Woodpeckers – the adult male and female were already ringed – by us in 2006 when they were both aged as second year birds. Along with the adults was a hatch year bird.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

No. ringed today: 52
No. of species today: 22
Ringed so far this season: 4107

13th September 2009

A very foggy start! The fog hung around for a couple of hours and certainly didn’t make for an easy census.

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Very few birds around today, the most common bird today being Common Yellowthroat with 8 captured and ringed.

No. ringed today: 26
No. of species today: 14
Ringed so far this season: 4133
Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

14th September 2009

Yet another excruciatingly slow day. Plenty of time for general observations – good passage of Cedar Waxwings and a couple of Sharp-shinned Hawks passed overhead. We kept hearing Sandhill Cranes and a few flocks went over. I love that sound. My turn for census and it was bit of a struggle to find birds – lots of gulls at the diversion though. We ended the morning with only 15 birds ringed.

No. ringed today: 15
No. of species today: 11
Ringed so far this season: 4148

Chris arrived back from the UK where he had spent spring and summer in Cornwall helping out on some RSPB Chough and Corn Bunting work (and surfing when he could). Chris runs the Saw-whet Owl ringing program here at Delta and had come to get things set up ready to start owl ringing tomorrow night. Chris is also the owner of Rupert, the car we’ve been using all spring and summer so it looks like we’ll be handing the keys back over very soon :-(

Our afternoon birding session was good, even though it was stiflingly hot. We stood at the diversion watching flocks of Sandhill Cranes come drifting in. We also had an Osprey and 4 more Sharpies.

Evening birding brought lots more Sandhill Cranes plus an unexpected Great Egret on one of the diversion pools. A single Golden Plover was looking a little lost all on it’s own and we had good views of Black-crowned Night Heron and Great Blue Heron.

15th September 2009

Where are all the birds?? Still up north i reckon. Sooooo slow again today. However, life livened up around 9am. Ian was on census and i was on my own, in the process of ringing a Sharp-shinned Hawk when the alarms started going off in Mallard Lodge. I kept thinking “Jeff will appear soon to sort it out” (Jeff is the stations maintenance guy). But no-one appeared so i quickly finished off the sharpie and dashed over to the office. Heidi and Jeff couldn’t hear the alarm! The fire truck from Portage la Prairie arrived 10 minutes later. The fire crew had to look all around the building to make sure there wasn’t a real emergency. It was, as we suspected a false alarm. Probably Murray set it off – The Lodge is supposed to be haunted by the ghost of the ex-caretaker (Murray) and his dog but i’ve never had any spooky experiences in the 3 times i’ve stayed here.

Smart fire truck!

Smart fire truck!

More Sandhill Cranes over today and a Cooper’s Hawk. A House Sparrow (an introduced species to North America) is hanging around by the buildings here and sounds very English.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

No. ringed today: 15
No. of species today: 9
Ringed so far this season: 4163

Another 400 or so Sandhills over in the afternoon and more Sharp-shinned Hawks.

As it was Chris’s first night owl ringing we sat in the ringing hut chatting with him when it was beer o’clock. He caught one Northern Saw-whet Owl during tonight’s session but not until late on, after we had gone to bed. He’s under strict instructions to come and wake us up if he catches any owls that aren’t Saw-whets.

16th September 2009

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

A steady day with birds coming in from the first round – only slowing down as the weather warmed up from 11.30am onwards. We roped Chris in to help us – he’d arrived at the ringing room to say good morning just as Ian had brought back a Northern Parula. Lovely bird! Not a species caught here very often.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

No. ringed today: 173
No. of species today: 26
Ringed so far this season: 4336

Afternoon birding was quiet, there was no wind and no soaring birds. Coyote in the usual place along the diversion road looked like it was catching grasshoppers.

Evening birding also fairly quiet, the Great Egret has moved on but we did get Black-crowned Night Heron and good numbers of duck including a single Bufflehead.

17th September 2009

Could hear coyotes howling and barking when i opened the nets this morning, they sounded quite close. Don’t know how many of them there are, we’ve only seen a maximum of 2 when out and about. When i was here in Spring 2007 i saw a pack of 8 of them crossing the road ahead of me when i was out birding on my own which was a little worrying.

Ian had gone to open the nets at the other end of the ridge and had found a Virginia Rail walking around by net 4, he chased it around for a while trying to catch it and only lost it when it headed into thick vegetation. What it was doing on the ridge we have no idea!

Ringing fairly slow with only 54 birds but we did catch our first Blue Jay of the season. I love Blue Jays they have so much character!

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

No. ringed today: 54
No. of species today: 19
Ringed so far this season: 4390

Ian spotted this sticker in the back of a car. Well, i think i’ve seen it all now!

Least said the better really...

Least said the better really...

Season summary
At end of week 10: 4390 birds
Birds this week: 357
Species so far: 82
Best fall ever: 7390 (in 2006)

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