Nature Blog Network

Spring banding begins…

30th April 2009

Some birding before the season gets under way. Still cold with lots of snow

Ice on the lake - what you can't feel is the northerly wind blowing across it!

Ice on the lake - what you can't feel is the northerly wind blowing across it!

Where net 4 should be!

Where net 4 should be!

At least we could light the fire in the Lodge. This must be the most luxurious bird observatory accommodation in the world!

At least we could light the fire in the Lodge. This must be the most luxurious bird observatory accommodation in the world!

1st May 2009

The first day of spring banding and we were greeted by sub-zero temperatures. At 8am it was still -1′C so we did the daily census before we opened the nets up. A lone Bufflehead was hanging around very close to net 7 in the flood water. We caught a fair variety of species including a new arrival – Black and White Warbler.

Spring banding begins....

Spring banding begins....

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet - the same genus, Regulus, as our Goldcrest

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet - the same genus, Regulus, as our Goldcrest

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

We caught a Downy Woodpecker that we were able to age as a third year bird – you can see from the photo that is has moulted two of it’s outer primary coverts. A Spring write-in (that is, a bird that hadn’t been caught and ringed here in the spring before) and also a ringing tick for Ian was a lovely Belted Kingfisher from net 11. It’s good to be ringing here at Delta again!

Myrtle Warbler

Myrtle Warbler

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Downy Woodpecker wing shot showing the two moulted outer primary coverts, making this a third year (TY) bird

Downy Woodpecker wing shot showing the two moulted outer primary coverts, making this a third year (TY) bird

Belted Kingfisher, a ringing tick for Ian

Belted Kingfisher, a ringing tick for Ian

1st May 2009
Species New Retrap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Brown Creeper 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Myrtle Warbler 10
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Black and White Warbler 1
Slate-coloured Junco 2
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Song Sparrow 4
Hermit Thrush 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Totals: 34 1
Season total: 34 1

The banding course participants and Peter Pyle all arrived by boat during the afternoon. The evening was spent in the classroom where Peter gave us a talk on moult terminology.

2nd May 2009

Another cold start with frost on the ground as the temperature at 7am was -4′C and too cold to open any nets up. We did census along with many of the course participants for company and with all those eyes on the lookout for birds we did pretty well with 52 species including a very late Common Redpoll found in the station car park. We had been joined by Ana Maria Gonzalez, an experienced ringer from Columbia and who was the bander in charge here at Delta last autumn, she will be helping us with the banding and also studying Yellow Warblers for her Masters Degree.

It warmed up quite quickly and we were able to open the nets at 8am. We soon started catching birds and were in the novel situation where saying “let’s consult Pyle” didn’t mean looking in the book but asking the man himself!

Consulting Pyle - the man himself rather than the book. The equivalent in the UK would be having Lars Svensson at your ringing session ;-)

Consulting Pyle - the man himself rather than the book. The equivalent in the UK would be having Lars Svensson at your ringing session ;-)

course participants studying specimens

course participants studying specimens

We had a reasonable selection of birds and Peter took the participants through the various moults and ages. The three of us who were banding – Ian, Ana and myself, felt pretty much under pressure as we had to process the birds, making descisions on the age/sex before they went out to Peter who then gave his opinion on the age/sex of the bird. Thankfully we all concurred and didn’t make any embarrasing errors!

2nd May 2009
Species New Retrap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Brown Creeper 1
Slate-coloured Junco 4
Myrtle Warbler 3
Eastern Phoebe 2
Hermit Thrush 2
Song Sparrow 1 1
American Robin 4 1
Common Grackle 1
Totals 21 2
Season total: 55 3

The afternoon and evening was spent in the classroom and we did some work with the specimen birds – Ian and i found it to be a whole new artform in ageing specimens. give us the live bird any day!

3rd May 2009

We opened the nets up at 7am as the temperature was above zero. We had a steady stream of birds all morning including a good selection of Myrtle Warblers of varying ages and sexes and a variety of Sparrows which caused much discussion. A warm sunny morning but no time to do census.

A new bird for Spring was a Swainson’s Thrush which was caught and banded. Ian and i didn’t get chance to do census during standard hours but had a walk round at 6pm and picked up 37 species including a few hundred Snow Geese which were heading north.

Course participants group shot

Course participants group shot

The DMBO crew with Peter Pyle

The DMBO crew with Peter Pyle

3rd May 2009
Species New Retrap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Myrtle Warbler 18
Eastern Phoebe 2
Northern Waterthrush 3
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Song Sparrow 2 1
Hermit Thrush 2
White-throated Sparrow 5
Common Grackle 1
American Robin 1
Totals 41 2
Season total: 96 5

4th May 2009

Back to being just the three of us ringing now. We had a 7am start and got a couple of hours with 6 nets but then had to gradually start to close them down as the wind came up from the south. Ian headed off on census and then came running back shouting to us “Turkey Vulture!” We looked up and it was just drifting overhead. The first American White Pelicans of the season were also spotted today. Another new bird for the list was a lone Harris’s Sparrow.

Pretty quiet ringing-wise with only 11 birds. All nets were closed by 11am.

We decided to have a go at trapping some of the Tree Swallows who were checking out the 30 nest boxes on the entrance road. We devised some nestbox traps and spent the afternoon along the roadside in the warm sunshine. We managed to catch and band three birds which we thought was pretty good for a first attempt. We need to tinker a little more with the traps and will try again another day.

Male and female Tree Swallows on top of one of the boxes

Male and female Tree Swallows on top of one of the boxes

Setting the nest box traps

Setting the nest box traps

4th May 2009
Species New Retrap
Brown Creeper 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Myrtle Warbler 2
White-throated Sparrow 5
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 1
Totals 11 0
Season total: 107 5

5th May 2009

For the first time today we were able to open up the nets at the scheduled time of 5.45am – it was a balmy 6′C a bit of a change from the last week of cold overnight temperatures! We now have 7 out of the 10 nets up but two are still flooded and one still under snow.

A pretty slow session but we had new arrivals both in the nets and visual. Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows were found in net 7, Ian saw Caspian Tern on census and Heidi called in to say she’d seen Marsh Wren by the canoe ditch. Ana had a ringing tick – Blue Jay. A few Myrtles, 12 new ones were banded today and we also caught and ringed a Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow which i failed to get a photo of :-(

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Western Palm Warbler

Western Palm Warbler

All the birds get weighed in an envelope. This is a Blue Jay getting weighed

All the birds get weighed in an envelope. This is a Blue Jay getting weighed

Ana with the Blue Jay - a ringing tick for her. I just love Blue Jays, they have so much character!

Ana with the Blue Jay - a ringing tick for her. I just love Blue Jays, they have so much character!

We were able to age this as a second year bird (SY) as it had no barring on it's primary coverts and had also retained some greater coverts

We were able to age this as a second year bird (SY) as it had no barring on it's primary coverts and had also retained some greater coverts

The road is now open!!! Students and staff were able to get in and life will now be returning to normal.

5th May 2009
Species New Retrap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Myrtle Warbler 12
Western Palm Warbler 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2
Northern Waterthrush 2
White-throated Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 1
Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow 1
Blue Jay 1
Totals 27 0
Season total: 134 5

6th May 2009

A slow start to the day and the first escapee of the day was a Ruffed Grouse which escaped net 11 on one of the early rounds. On the 11.15am round i got to net 11 and couldn’t believe my eyes, Myrtle Warblers! the net was just dripping with birds! Anther new species in the net today was a Nashville Warbler. New birds seen were Black Tern (by Ian on census but not by me) and Spotted Sandpiper.

Went off to town with Heidi in the afternoon and finally got my hair cut!

6th May 2009
Species New Retrap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Myrtle Warbler 32
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Western Palm Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 6 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 2 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Rusty Blackbird 1
American Robin 1 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker 1
Totals 53 3
Season total: 187 8
Entering the data in the comfort of the lounge - note the new haircut!

Entering the data in the comfort of the lounge - note the new haircut!

7th May 2009

A cold and windy start and the weather just got worse as the day went on. No nets were opened and i nearly froze to death doing census – all the birds were laying low. Ian went off to the local dump with Jeff in the hopes of seeing gulls – he didn’t, but did see a Willet on his way back in to the field station. Only managed a pretty poor 28 species on census and obs – even the Red-winged Blackbirds were subdued today. Lots of people around as there were two groups here using the station facilities for their meetings.

7th May 2009
Species New Retrap
No banding due to bad weather
Totals 0 0
Season total: 187 8
A novel Canadian way of keeping your beer chilled - fill your truck with snow and pile in the beer!

A novel Canadian way of keeping your beer chilled - fill your truck with snow and pile in the beer!

8th May 2009

Another cold and windy day with the temperature below zero for the whole 6 hour session. Ian braved the chill wind to do census and one of the students, Larkin, went along too – a hardy Canadian who didn’t even bother putting gloves on! Today i think that birds and banders alike just wanted to huddle in a sheltered spot. Later in the afternoon we had a walk along the diversion and had to feel sorry for the Tree Swallows over the water picking insects from the surface, at least they seemed to be finding a little food. A group of 18 Tundra Swans was a lovely sight, resting up on one of the exposed islands in the diversion.

The north wind has blown the ice onto the shore

The north wind has blown the ice onto the shore

A bleak mid May scene

A bleak mid May scene

I tried to capture, probably without much success, the ice crystals that have all washed up on the beach

I tried to capture, probably without much success, the ice crystals that have all washed up on the beach

8th May 2009
Species New Retrap
No banding due to bad weather
Totals 0 0
Season total: 187 8

9th May 2009

The weather just gets worse! Woke today to find that it was -2′C and snowing! the northerly wind had blown the remaining ice in to the shore and the wind was bitterly cold.

View across the lake, the arctic scene that greeted us first thing this morning, and it was still snowing!

View across the lake, the arctic scene that greeted us first thing this morning, and it was still snowing!

The banding/ringing room

The banding/ringing room

Mallard Lodge in the snow - good job there's a good supply of wood for the fire!

Mallard Lodge in the snow - good job there's a good supply of wood for the fire!

Despite the lack of ringing opportunities we did general observations all morning and the birding, particularly looking out across the lake was pretty good as the birds were concentrated into the small open, ice free areas of water. Hooded, Common and Red-breasted Merganser, Caspian and Forster’s Tern, American White Pelican, Franklin’s, Boneparte’s, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, flocks of Snow and Canada Geese passing over throughout the morning, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Peregrine were just some of the birds we enjoyed. We felt sorry for the smaller birds though and there were quite large numbers of Tree Swallows over the ice and water – they seemed to be picking insects from the surface of the water.

The afternoon warmed up and we headed off on our bikes along the diversion. Hundreds of Tree Swallows were hunting over the river there too along with a handful of Cliff Swallows (new for the trip) and a few Barn Swallows. Surprise of the day came in the form of a stonking Glaucous Gull that flew down the diversion, right past us. Quite a few waders (shorebirds here in North America) had gathered on the receding floodwaters and we saw Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet and a lovely female Wilson’s Phalarope

9th May 2009
Species New Retrap
No banding due to bad weather
Totals 0 0
Season total: 187 8

After supper we headed up to the diversion until the sun started to get low and the temperature dropped. A beautiful still evening watching the birds out on the ice flows and a few Western Palm Warblers and Myrtles tittling around in the bushes in front of us. Back to the Lodge to light the fire and enjoy beer o’clock….

6 comments to Spring banding begins…

  • Yvonne

    Hi there X333XXX

    Thanks for the compliments. Must admit that i’ve been a silent lurking fan of your blog too for a while now. I try to keep up with the Island Blogging blogs. I love Lewis and haven’t left permanently, miss the place a lot. See you soon in blogland!

  • Yvonne

    Hiya Soaplady, thanks for your kind words about the blog, i really just started it originally so my kids and my mum and dad could see what i’m up to. Weather just got worse – gales, rain and 1′C feeling like -14′C, reminds me a lot of the Hebrides. Feeling sorry for the birds that have been arriving in large numbers, especially the warblers and the tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird!

    Beer o’clock – that’s where i’m off to right now!

  • Soaplady

    Wow – just love this blog, Y :-)
    Do the forecasts say anything about weather settling down …?
    Don’t have too much beer o’clock though, will you … !

  • Hello Yvonne. What an absolutely fascinating blog, and stunning photography to boot! The Soaplady introduced me to your blog and what a find it is.

    Good luck with the house sale, if I was in permanent residence on Lewis it’d have been a strong contender for a home. I think I know just about where it is too!

  • Wow Celia, sounds like things are going really well out there at Innis with nearly 400 birds already. I guess you started a week before us so we may catch you up! Just lost three whole days due to bad weather. Yup, sure is good to be back here at Delta but i am missing IPBO too. Hope it continues to go well for you, make sure to keep in touch!

  • Celia Bodnar

    Hi Yvonne et al…..glad to see were not yet outdone by DMBO! Felt like we might as well be out there today: it made it up to +3 with a -3 windchill today, and even a few flakes flew! Hardly a bird in sight. But, up to now the banding has been steady, close to 400 already. I’ve been filling in as BIC while the person we hired is away. The pics from Delta sure make me pine for a visit; even the flooded net lanes make me feel all warm inside! But, most of all, talk of “nets dripping with warblers” sure sound lovely. Bring ‘em on!