Stéphane’s Post for Sept. 20/10

Unexpected Visitors!

These last few days, we’ve been treated with unusual guests! On Friday, September 17, as might was darkening the sky, we heard a Whip-Poor-Will singing! Its beautiful and loud song was easily carried over the still waters of Wingfield Basin.  Never before have I heard the whip-poor-will so late in the season.   Some years, I noticed that they were singing again at the end of August and early September, but now is almost fall and it was very surprising and unexpected to hear the Whip-Poor-Will.  I believe that we would have to wait to next May now to hear it again…

On Sunday, we caught in our nets a resident of Cabot Head, the Pileated Woodpecker.  This huge woodpecker is very often heard drumming or “laughing” but extremely rarely caught in the nets.  Actually, the young female on Sunday was only the 8th Pileated Woodpecker ever banded at Cabot Head since 2002.  To band one is a two-person job!  One to hold on the bird with two hand, paying special attention to that chisel of a beak, the other to put the band on and do the measurements.  Everybody was delighted and excited by the catch,notably the participants of Ron Baker’s storytelling workshop: that could make a story, if you know how to put the spin on it!

And today, Monday, September 20, it was the turn of a Scarlet Tanager to create a surprise.  A young male, starting to show some black on the upper wing, but otherwise sporting the more subdued yellow plumage of a youngster, was caught and happily banded.  It is the second Scarlet Tanager ever banded at the station (the first one being in fall 2005): a very rare event indeed, fully appreciated by the team here.  Sadly, no storyteller or visitors from Australia and Austria were here to enjoy this beautiful bird with us.

Other interesting sightings, albeit less unusual, include: an American Redstart today (might well be the last of the season), as well as 2 Black-throated Green Warblers; a Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Sunday (again, maybe the last); on the same day, the first Gray-cheeked Thrush; lots of Sparrows and Kinglets: fall is definitively in the air…