Stéphane’s Blog for April 23, 2015


This is April in all its glory: one day is warm and sunny, the next is blustery with flurries! With all the nets but C13 up, Monday was the official first day of banding, but the strong East wind and rain decided otherwise. And now, on Thursday, we managed to open nets only one day, on Tuesday, when the southwest wind and short showers didn’t impede the process too much. Nonetheless, spirits are high, census and observations are done every day, with always something interesting or exciting. This morning, for example, it was the moving carpet of broken ice along the shore, pushed by waves and wind! Only 6 species of birds were detected on census today, with no songbirds at all! Probably with more sense than us, they have retreated farther south or are hiding in a warm spot, waiting for the cold spell to pass.

As mentioned, Tuesday was the only day with banding. Only 19 birds of 9 species were captured, with half of them kinglets. It seems that we missed the migration of male Golden-crowned Kinglets: they migrate about 10 days before the females and, in early spring, move through Cabot Head before the start of monitoring. Of the small sample of 6 Golden-crowns captured, only one was a male. We also got a late individual of an early migrant, a beautiful Fox Sparrow, and an early individual of an early warbler, a male Yellow-rumped Warbler. Observations that day led to the detection of 50 species, quite a good total for this time of year. We had an impressive display of 10 species of raptors, including one juvenile Golden Eagle. Amazingly, we also had 4 juvenile Bald Eagles, which, at one point, were all perched together in trees below Middle Bluff. The adult pair of Bald Eagle is again breeding at Cabot Head, the female sitting patiently on the eggs in a massive nest, while the male is seen perched on favourite posts or patrolling the sky. Birds of prey being among my preferred birds, I can’t help but list the rest of the species seen that day: a few Sharp-shinned Hawks; two Red-tailed Hawks and 5 Rough-legged Hawks; one male Northern Harrier; one Merlin, one American Kestrel, and one adult Peregrine Falcon carrying a prey in its talons; and, of course, a few Turkey Vultures.

There were quite a few species of waterfowl, with the first Common Loons seen this spring, a few Red-necked and Horned Grebes, small flocks of Double-crested Cormorants. In Wingfield Basin, we were entertained with the attics of Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers.

The echoing call of Sandhill Cranes resonates almost every day from the surrounding wetlands, sending shivers of delight. The shipwreck is still home to beavers, which have been doing short work this spring of the small trees growing between the station and the first mist net, A1. This mist net has always been good, especially because of the shrubby vegetation around it. The beavers are still working on a pair of birch trees right next to A1: they are definitively keeping this area from growing into tall trees. I am curious to see how the vegetation and the birds will react to this toothy intervention.

The sun and warmer weather are supposed to come back soon, which should bring back the birds in earnest. Stay tuned!