Stormy May Days Brings Migrants of all Kinds to Cabot Head.
Today (May 7th) a Nicaraguan ornithologist enjoyed many new arrivals for the year to Cabot Head. Salvadora Morales arrived on the 5th of May sponsored by Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory to enjoy some birding in Ontario and give some outreach presentations about bird conservation in Nicaragua at schools in North Bruce. Salvadora will be staying at the station until the 21st of May when she heads to Ottawa to give presentations to local naturalist groups. She has enjoyed viewing many warbler species in their full breeding plumage something unseen in Nicaragua.
And now for something completely different……
May 7th was a dark and gloomy day with storm clouds looming over Cabot Head throughout the morning. The clouds managed to push down migrants into the forest and eventually into our nets! We had another warbler first for the year, a Northern Waterthrush and a Swainson’s Thrush as well. With 65 birds banded of 16 species it was a good day with 9 species of warbler banded! A large movement of Palm and Myrtle warbler moved through with over 100 and over 200 counted respectively.
May 8th was beautiful day with sunny skies and warm temperatures but not great conditions for catching birds. We closed the station early for a field trip with Salvadora to a colonial nesting bird site on Snake Island. Despite that we added saw two new species, we banded our first Least Flycatcher and observed our first Common Yellowthroat.Hawks moved through in decent numbers with over 100 Broad Winged Hawks, Rough Legged Hawk, Red Tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Sharp Shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Osprey and Merlin. Another highlight was 3 Wood Ducks flying over the basin searching for more appropriate habitat.
May 9th was another gloomy day with the early morning on the cusp of an inevitable downpour of rain. And once again birds fell out of the sky and into our nets. We banded 11 species of warblers including our first Bay Breasted Warbler and American Redstarts. There was a big movement of sparrows as well with 7 species of sparrow banded. Including Swamp Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, Eastern White Crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, a late American Tree Sparrow and our first Savannah Sparrow. In total we banded 57 birds of 23 species in 4 hours. And then the rain came and didn’t stop until after noon but birds continued to move through another surprise was a single Northern Pintail flying north over the basin.
Today (May 10th) was less rainy the yesterday but much less birdy as well. We banded 8 species mostly Western Palm Warblers but also a Sharp Shinned Hawk. We observed Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, Cliff Swallows (our first for the year) and a lone bank swallows flying over the basin today. The resident Bald Eagles were sitting on the basin today munching on a fishy snack they have been absent for the past few days and their nest is complete but its unlikely that they will lay eggs this year. An eastern Towhee was also heard calling today and 3 Great Blue Herons were seen flying over Georgian Bay.