A time to pause and reflect
Now that the daily migration monitoring has ended, it is time to compile, sum up, and analyze all the data collected over the past two and a half months. From mid-August to the very last day of October, we observed a total of 130 species, with the highest daily total of 42 species (on September 3rd and 23rd). Sadly, no new species for the station was detected this fall.
Banding brought an interesting mix of highs and lows. It was the third lowest fall total with 1462 birds banded, but with the second highest diversity of 71 species banded (below both 2007 and 2010 with 73 species). A few species were banded in record numbers, most notably, Swainson’s Thrush (79 birds banded, previous record of 50 in 2009); Dark-eyed Junco (141 birds banded, previous high of 133 in 2014); American Tree Sparrow, with an amazing 94 birds banded (previous record of 88 in 2010): as a late migrant, it is more often than not only captured in small numbers at the very end of the season.
As mentioned, it was a very diverse banding season, with quite a few species captured that are usually rare or captured in very small numbers. They were mentioned in the blog throughout the season but let’s enjoy some of them again! A male White-breasted Nuthatch in October: it was only the third fall that this species was captured! Same with the 2 Northern Parulas, the Common Redpoll, and the American Pipit. The Hooded Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow we banded are very, very rare in the nets, having been previously captured only in one other season!
On the other hand, some species managed to avoid the nets, although not necessarily rare. For example, it is the first fall that no Purple Finch got banded. We also missed other common birds like Chipping Sparrow and Eastern Phoebe…
Besides numbers and list of species, living at Cabot Head brings also many memorable moments. It is the awesome spectacle of an adult Bald Eagle trying to catch a White-winged Scoter in Wingfield Basin: Flying low and hovering over its quarry, forcing the scoter to dive and dive again to exhaust it. A feast of strength and determination! That time, though, the eagle got chased by another adult eagle, most likely the resident bird. All this effort to not avail! Or it is a family of otters fishing around the shipwreck in the clear light of an autumn morning. Or simply watching the leaves slowly turning into a kaleidoscope of colours and having a last moment of glory before being swept away in the heartless winds of time.
In closing, I would like to mention the great volunteers who gave their time at Cabot Head and made the monitoring not just possible but also great fun. Thank you all!