A change is in the air!

This past week, it felt like summer had been slipping away, much faster than it should at this time of year. Temperatures were much cooler than usual, cloudy days brought a damper to wearing shorts and jumping into Wingfield Basin for a refreshing dip. 

It was not the most exciting week as well for bird activity, I’m afraid. Nonetheless, we recaptured the Connecticut Warbler on September 4th. On September 5th, we captured the first (and so far, only) Blackpoll Warbler of the season. At the Pine Barrens the same day, I observed for several long minutes a Solitary Sandpiper around a rain puddle, a beautiful shorebird etched in black and white and some browns, a denizen of the boreal forest in summer, seen around here only during migration and always solitary.

I may write that it was not very exciting these days and that, more often than not, woods felt empty. I shall not forget that I have the privilege to watch the sun rise over Georgian Bay every morning (even when behind a thick curtain of gray clouds), that, on a typical, “slow and boring” day, I might see the Bald Eagle regally perched on Middle Bluffs, a pair of Sandhill Crane fly across the Pine Barrens, trumpeting loudly their attachment to each other, a Common Loon far in the distance over the bay, while a Pileated Woodpecker drums and calls in the woods. On that “slow and boring” day of September 6th, I should also add the Eastern Whip-poor-will calling early at dawn as wisps of mist drift over the water.

The first Palm Warblers of the fall were seen on September 10th, at the very end of the 60-minute census, among a varied flock of birds: There were many chickadees and nuthatches (both very common this fall), a few Bay-breasted Warblers, a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, one Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and several Red-eyed Vireos. It was a nice reward after almost nothing heard or seen during the census that day. 

On September 11th, we caught a young female Scarlet Tanager, in a yellow and olive outfit, a far cry from the outrageous scarlet of the males, but a beautiful bird nonetheless. Surprisingly, from 2002 to 2009, this species was caught only during two fall seasons, whereas it was captured almost every fall season from 2010 onward (missed only on 2014 and 2018).

As I’m writing these lines, a strong East wind is blowing under a thick layer of clouds, harbinger of rain. And rain always brings a halt to bird migration. But the relentless of seasonal changes will soon enough be expressed again through the passage of birds at Cabot Head.