Stéphane’s Blog for May 30, 2011

Arrivals of the Late Migrants!

Due to technical problems, there was no posting in the last 5 days. So, here it is, what happened lately at Cabot Head.

On Thursday, surprise, surprise, it rained all day, with a north and cold wind! There was no banding and barely any observations; surprisingly, we had a Bufflehead in the basin!

On Friday, May 27th, a roaring NE wind was whipping Georgian Bay and sending a shivering chill down our spines: it was -25C at least! More seriously, it was easily 0C with the wind chill. Not surprisingly, there were very few birds around: 33 species detected and 10 birds captured (including the 3 recaptures). The only highlight was a Semi-palmated Plover in flight high up in the blue sky. Without its call, we would certainly have missed it.

On Saturday, we had a heavy fog all morning and a light East wind. Again, not a high total for the number of species detected (only 44, with 14 species of warblers); however, the fog probably hindered the ability of birds to see the nets, as we caught a satisfying 41 birds of 15 species and 8 recaptures of 4 species. American Redstarts, very abundant locally, were dominant, with some recaptures from previous years.

On Sunday, finally, the weather turned back to something approaching seasonal. The day started calm, clear, and warm. A strong south wind picked up in mid-morning, though. Diversity increased sharply with a total of 72 species detected, with 10 species of birds of prey (including Turkey Vultures). Amazingly, a young Golden Eagle was seen again! There’s no way to know if it’s the same individual than on the 25th. If it’s not, that would make it the 5th Golden Eagle seen at Cabot Head this spring! Big kettles of Broad-winged Hawks were seen as well. One Peregrine Falcon was seen as well. Rarely seen at Cabot Head, we had 2 Chimney Swifts! And there was a good push of the late migrants, like Flycatchers and some warblers: quite a few Yellow-bellied Flycatchers; one Mourning Warbler; the first Wilson’s Warbler; a handful of Canada Warblers.

And finally, on Monday (today), the weather seemed to behave as if it was late spring, with warmth (although fog rolled in at some point this morning)! There was definitively a strong movement of migrants today, with a few waves of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers moving through. In total, 105 birds of 22 species were banded (seasonal highest) and 8 recaptures (of only 3 species)! It is just 2 individuals less than the best day of the season (April 29), when recaptures are included. The most abundant was the American Redstart (no surprise here), with 33 individuals banded and 6 recaptures (some from the previous fall or even 2 years ago). The overall diversity of warblers was very good, with 20 species. There were lots of Wilson’s Warblers (10 banded!), Magnolia (13 banded), quite a few Chestnut-sided (6 banded) and Canada (4). As Canada and Wilson’s Warblers, the few Mourning Warblers detected this morning are a late migrant, usually moving through here in late May, early June. A few Blackpoll Warblers, another late migrant, were detected, with a male being captured and banded.

A good diversity of Flycatchers, with, actually, only the Eastern Phoebe missing of the list: An Olive-sided Flycatcher sang most of the morning; An Eastern Wood-pewee did just the same; Yellow-bellied, “Traill’s”, and Least Flycacthers were present in significant numbers; Vireos seemed to be everywhere this morning, mostly Red-eyed Vireos, but also, quite a few Philadelphia Vireos (8 were detected), and a Blue-headed Vireo captured.

Other surprises include an Eastern Towhee banded and a Clay-coloured Sparrow observed. Huge flocks of Blue Jays (up to 150) were observed throughout the morning. Cedar Waxwings were also streaming through in good-sized flocks all morning as well.

At dawn, the American Bittern was calling. And a Common Nighthawk called once, as we were opening the nets, and I caught a glimpse of its fanciful flight.

In the last 2 days, a total of 92 species were detected: not bad at all!