The closer it got to the weekend, the more apparent it was that banding on Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 would be a challenge. And indeed it was, but with surprising results. On Friday we set up the first three nets, and almost immediately had to close them due to a rain shower starting. Hoping it would be temporary, we set up two more nets and furled them closed, then went to the Upland area to set up those four nets. The rain had stopped, so I re-opened the Field, Field Edge and one Willow net. Then we set up the Swamp Nets and did the first net run. We got a few birds, banded them, and just when we set out for the second net run it started to rain lightly. I took birds out, and the volunteers furled the nets closed behind me. In the 1.5 hours that all the nets were open, a total of 55 new birds and 13 recaptures had been caught! These were banded under the shelter of the hatchback of my car, and a couple umbrellas. We waited for 4 hours more but the rain increased instead of diminished. No wonder the cattails that were 3-inches tall just last week in the burn were now 18-24 inches tall today. We took all the nets down in the rain. The word of the day: Yuck!
Saturday at least didn't have rain in the forecast, but there was a high wind advisory. We got the Field and Field Edge nets open, but a loop broke on the Willow Net so we continued on to the Upland Nets and set them up. At that point, it started to rain, so we furled them all closed for an hour, and replaced the Willow Net with one backup net that I had. Once the rain stopped, it was obvious that all the nets we'd set up so far weren't safe to open due to the wind. But in the Swamp area, there was much less wind due to the sheltering trees, so we set those three up, and moved the other Willow net to the roadside as there were lots of swallows foraging around low to the road. This strategy rarely works, as swallows are very good at avoiding nets. But this time, we had an initial catch of 5 swallows in the roadside net. Then, on the very next net run, there were 79 swallows of three species in these four nets! I quickly worked to get them out (swallows don't tangle much so come out easily) and we closed the nets after maybe a little over an hour's effort. The word of the day: Weird!
Highlights of birds banded on Friday, May 7 included single Veery and Swainson's Thrushes which were firsts for the season, and a single Hermit Thrush rounding out a trio of thrushes captured today. A single Brown Thrasher which is a species we don't catch here every year, was nice to see.
There were lots of warblers in the bushes, frolicking in the rain, which was somewhat frustrating as for most of the day it wasn't safe to have nets open. But, during the brief dry spell, we did manage to catch 8 species of warbler including Nashville, several Yellows, a nice pair of male Black-throated Blues, a small flock of Yellow-rumpeds, single Black-and-white and Ovenbird, two Northern Waterthrushes, and a few Common Yellowthroats.
Black-and-white Warbler, After hatch-year female
Black-throated Blue Warbler, After hatch-year male