Andrew’s Posting for April 29th to May 1st
North winds kept up at the beginning of the period, but a break in the winds brought fall out of thousands of warblers and other migrants, followed by a lull of little activity has made the last 3 days at Cabot Head very exciting!
If your looking for pictures of some of the birds we’ve seen and banded a Cabot Head you can check out the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory page on Facebook if you’re into that sort of thing. A link to BPBO’s Facebook page is found at the top of the home page on this web site.
Banding was slow on the 29th with 10 birds of 5 species banded including: Golden Crowned Kinglet, Ruby Crowned Kinglet and Black Capped Chickadee. Bay Watch and census turned up some good waterfowl including: 17 Common Loons, 5 Red Necked Grebes, 58 Horned Grebes, 124 Lesser Scaup, 22 White Winged Scoters, 22 Long Tailed Ducks, 36 Red Breasted Mergansers, 2 Ring Necked Ducks, 1 Pintail, and a lone Pied Billed Grebe floating in the basin. A good variety of raptors moved through as well including: 1 second year Bald Eagle moving through other than the usual 2 adult resident Bald Eagles, 6 Sharp Shinned Hawks, 6 Broad Winged Hawks, 7 Red Tailed Hawks, 1 Rough Legged Hawk, 1 American Kestrel and the usual 2 local Merlins still engaging in courtship.
On the 30th, the north winds turned south west. The break in the north winds rained a fallout of Myrtle Warblers down upon the forest canopy at Cabot Head. As one volunteer watch for fifteen minutes from the tip area. 430 Myrtle Warblers flew by crossing the mouth of the basin to the lighthouse. This continued from 09:00 to 11:00. Banding was the best yet in terms of numbers and diversity. We banded 3 new species for the year: Eastern Phoebe, Swamp Sparrow and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. We also banded Hermit Thrush, White Throated Sparrow, Black Capped Chickadee and both Kinglet species. During the 10:00 net check we were surprised to find over 50 Myrtle Warblers and a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker in our first 2 nets! We quickly extracted all the birds and checked the remaining nets which had no birds. After banding all the warblers, we banded a few more birds from successive net checks ending up with 69 birds of 9 species banded for the day! Otherwise diversity was average with 46 species seen during the standard period (from 1/2 hour before sunrise for 7 hours). Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs were observed flying through. We had a discussion and did some quick mathematics and determined that there were probably 2200 Myrtle Warblers migrating through Cabot Head on the 30th. The only word that comes to mind is Myrtle-tastic!
The 1st of May was quite a contrast to the previous days flurry of bird activity with 42 species observed for the day. Diversity was good but numbers of birds were very low, and as well Cabot Head was blanketed in a dense fog. No birds were seen during daily Bay Watch due to no visibility. We banded only a single bird; a Myrtle Warbler left behind by all his brethren from the day before. Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs were observed again as well as a Northern Harrier. Another lonely female Bufflehead landed on the basin mid-morning and floated alongside some Common Mergansers. Weather is looking good for a big push of migrants from the south in the next few days so keep your eyes open for birds as we will be.