* Andrew Sawyer is BPBO’s new Station Scientist for 2012. We are very pleased to have him working at the Cabot Head Research Station, and we look forward to Andrew’s regular station postings.
2012 Spring Migration Arrives at Cabot Head
Migration monitoring commenced at Cabot Head on the 14th with census and casual observations. On the 14th and 15th I was busy setting up the nets to be ready for banding with the help of the President of BPBO himself Rod Steinacher.
The 14th and 15th of April saw abundant Golden-Crowned Kinglets and some Ruby-Crowned Kinglets as well typical early spring migrants like Eastern Pheobe, Slate-Coloured Juncos and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. A Pine Warbler was heard singing near the Wingfield Cottage on the 14th and a great many Northern Flickers were seen flying around throughout the day. A flock of 40 Pine Siskins were seen on census!
Census on the 15th produced an Eastern Bluebird, a single Cooper’s Hawk as well as the usual abundant juncos, kinglets and flickers. A Myrtle Warbler was found near the banding lab in the afternoon and in the same tree an American Tree Sparrow. All the nets were set up by the end of the day and banding lab prepared for a hopeful onslaught of birds.
On the 16th the first official day of banding net opening was delayed due to rain however there were lots of great birds around seen on census and obs. 3 Wood Ducks were seen on census as well as a Greater Yellowlegs and Wilson’s Snipe! A pair of Merlins are nesting in a White Cedar behind the cottage filling the morning air with their staccato shrieks. More Myrtle Warblers were seen as well as both kinglets and also White-Throated Sparrows were heard calling today in good numbers. Nets were opened but only for a short time due to high winds and landed no birds.
The 17th was sudden change back to cold weather here with a drop in temperature to -1. The cold temperatures and howling North winds kept bird activity to a minimum. White-Throated Sparrows, Slate-coloured Juncos and Myrtle Warblers were some of the only passerines up and about. Wingfield Basin had Common Mergansers, Buffleheads and Ring-Necked ducks and 2 Pied-Billed Grebes, a good sighting for the basin!
The 18th was chilly in the morning but windless, nets could finally be opened! Banded birds for the day include: Black-Capped Chickadee, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Goldem-Crowned Kinglet and Hermit Thrush. Diversity of waterfowl both on the water and in air was excellent. Sightings for the day include: Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-Necked Grebe, Pied-Billed Grebe, White-Winged Scoter, Wood Duck, Bufflehead, Ring-Necked Duck, Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. Birds of prey were quite active as well with Osprey, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawk, and Merlin all “kettling” over Middle Bluff. The most spectacular display of the day was a pair of Bald Eagles flying up to the bluff and pulling dead branches off tree then promptly flying to a spot in the forest to re-build their nest which had been destroyed over the winter. Amongst branch gatherings one of the eagles took a dive at a Common Merganser but failed to capture it. The merganser flew frantically away over Georgian Bay and the eagle returned to the bluff to continue its work.
The 19th was a day full of bird activity. Banding commenced before sunrise and throughout the morning we captured several new species for the year! We capture our first Myrtle Warblers, White-Throated Sparrow, Sharp Shinned Hawk and Western Palm Warbler. Census was even busier with 3 species of dabbling duck on Wingfield Basin, Wood Duck, Mallard and Green-WInged Teal. There were two Goldeneyes observed the male doing courtship displays for the female. First for the season a House Wren was observed as well as Winter Wren throughout the day. 6 Greater Yellowlegs were seen flying over as well as 2 or 3 Belted Kingfishers. An Eastern Pheobe was seen again around the cottage. Raptor migration was excellent today as well with many Sharp-Shinned Hawks seen flying over 3 Red-Tailed Hawk, 2 Northern Harrier, 2 Bald Eagle, the usual 2 Merlins and 2 Red-Shouldered Hawks! All in all an excellent day hopefully the next will be just as good.