End of season.

Like all things, the fall 2019 bird migration monitoring is coming to an end. October 31st is the official end date, marked this year by a tumultuous wind- and rain-storm! There was obviously no banding that day: we were warned beforehand and actually took down the nets in the afternoon of the 30th. With more rain and even snow (!) forecasted for the next few days, it was better to store dry nets.

In the last eight days or so, we banded an all-time low of 48 birds, bringing the season total to 1018 banded birds. It is only 13 birds more than the lowest total on record, in fall 2017, although the monitoring was cut short by one week that year. So, let’s be frank: Fall 2019 is the lowest, slowest, season on record! Many of the 68 species captured were banded in below average, or even, record low numbers.

Nonetheless, the last week brought a very exciting surprise: a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was observed on October 26 and 28 and banded on the 30th! It is only the second Gnatcatcher banded at Cabot Head (first one in Fall 2002). This species has been observed in eight previous Fall seasons (out of 17), so it is not common, and most observations are in August or early September. There have been only two observations in October in the past: one bird on the 1st in 2006, and one on the 7th, in 2014. So, this Fall’s record is extremely late.

Of the list of expected birds provided in the last post, only one species was detected: Snow Bunting, with two birds on October 24 and three more observations afterward of a single bird. However, five new species for the season were also detected, most of them through bay watching: a Bufflehead on October 24; a Red-throated Loon on the same day (fourth Fall season with sighting); American Black Ducks on October 25 and 26; a few Horned Grebes fishing just offshore on October 26 and 28. And, finally, not on the bay, but in a net, we had the first and only Fox Sparrow on October 30.

In total, there was a total of 133 species detected at Cabot Head this Fall, an average number, with American Golden Plover being seen for the first time ever.

It is always bittersweet to reach the end of another season. With snow flurries on the way, I am not too sad to follow the birds and migrate to – at least – a warmer house, where I could work on the seasonal report (which would be posted on the website in due time). I am already looking forward to be back in Spring to welcome back birds in our skies, our woods, and, of course, our nets!

In the meantime, enjoy the end of Fall and Happy Halloween!


PS: we apologize for the late posting, due to spotty internet and hydro power issue.