Unsettled weather!

May as well start this new post with a description of the most exciting event over the past week. On September 2nd, after an early morning of strong South wind and rain, the weather calmed down enough for us to open the nets. Among the meagre six birds caught was an adult male Connecticut Warbler! It is only the fourth Connecticut Warbler ever captured in the 19 years of monitoring at Cabot Head. This elusive and secretive bird is hardly ever observed, especially during migration. I have heard its explosive, loud song in the boreal forest (of Northern Alberta) but I have never seen one in the wild. And I have never heard nor seen it in Ontario, let alone at Cabot Head, other than in our nets.

What makes it special? Think of the Connecticut Warbler as an oversized Mourning Warbler, with a much stronger white eye ring, but lacking the black breast band. Instead, the adult male’s breast feathers are subtle with darker gray tips. After admiring this most rare of warblers and taking many pictures, we wished it good luck on its long migration journey to the Amazon basin.

And I could almost end the blog right here, because not much else of note has happened since I last blogged, except for a series of storms that moved through during the last week including August 29th, and again on September 2nd, (such wind!) – and finally a fierce, warm, south wind on September 3rd, that rendered an intense but short-lived thunderstorm in the afternoon.

There were very little bird activities overall during the past week, with the usual suspects around: Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, the spattering of warblers, the drab flycatchers, the ever-singing Red-eyed Vireos… But …. on August 31st, a Blue-headed Vireo brought an end to the red-eyed monopoly and monotony. And, in the nets on September 1st, five Ovenbirds were captured, a seemingly low number but, in fact, a record for Cabot Head! Considering all the previous fall days of operation at Cabot Head, captures of Ovenbirds have only been between one and three birds, except on August 30, 2011, with five.

Swainson’s Thrushes are now on the move, with two birds captured on September 1st, and five on September 3rd. This long-distance migrant, alongside Grey-cheeked Thrush, migrate mostly during September, and like the Connecticut Warbler, have a long way to go to fly to reach the continent of South America.

On September 3rd, four Merlins were seen briefly flying together in a much-disorganized fashion; I wonder if they are siblings. One Merlin soared with a Sharp-shinned Hawk for a little short while: they kept diving at each other!

No other flocks of Canada Goose skimmed across the sky this past week, reassuring us that we are indeed still in summertime. And reminding us to enjoy it!

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