Into fall (September 26)
As we are going into fall, the stretch of beautiful weather keeps on amazing us. Many days of warm, sunny weather have continued unbroken, parching the land but allowing a perfect coverage of mist-netting for the last week.
There has been a great migration during these last few days, with many birds in and out of the nets, a great diversity, and some special species. On the 21st, the calls of Pine Siskins were echoing all over Cabot Head, as numerous flocks whirled around (with a total of about 400 birds).
That day, we caught a Philadelphia Vireo, a rare event: from 2002 to 2014, only 1 to 5 Philadelphia Vireos are banded in the fall, and not every year. Even rarer was the young Scarlet Tanager, also caught the same day. In the last 13 years, it was captured only in 6 falls, with one or 2 individuals banded! To stay in the rarefied, we were lucky to get a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in our nets! This species is slightly more frequent, having been banded in 8 of the last 13 fall seasons. Interestingly, it has never been banded in spring!
There has been a good diversity and numbers of warblers in the last few days, with up to13 Nashville Warblers banded
in a day, or 6 Blackpoll Warblers, for example. In total, 11 species have been detected lately, with the highest diversity on the fall equinox, September 23: Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle (Yellow-rumped), Black-throated Green, Palm, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll Warblers, and American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat. In the fall, it is impossible to tell if an individual is the last of the species to fly through, until the very end. For example, today, September 26, we captured a young Common Yellowthroat. But, who knows, there might still be more to come.
Likewise, the last (so far) Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen on September 24, as well as the last Cedar Waxwings. There were still Red-eyed Vireos on September 23. The whip-poor-will was still heard on the evening of the 23rd.
On the other end, it is easier to call a bird the first detected! Such was the case for the first Blue-headed Vireos and Golden-crowned Kinglets on September 22nd, as well as the first Hermit Thrush on September 25th. White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, alongside Dark-eyed Juncos, are really arriving in force now.
There has been a very good movement of thrushes all fall this season, especially of Swainson’s Thrush. As of September 25, a total of 62 Swainson’s Thrushes have been banded, when, on average (for 2002 to 2014), only 28 individuals are banded (the previous highest total was 50 birds on fall 2009.
Quite discreet this fall, Sandhill Cranes were heard only twice, on September 22 and 23. On that latter day, some Grebes (both Horned and Red-necked) were seen on Georgian Bay.
The crew here at Cabot Head has definitively been enjoying the warm weather and the birds! The sightings of river otters fishing around the shipwreck is certainly a bonus too!