Saturday, September 4, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - August 31 & September 2, 2010

Once again, good numbers were banded on these two days, but with American Goldfinches dominating. It is getting time for the peak movement of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which should occur between September 5-15, but good numbers are starting to move through as evidenced by the 8 banded on each day.

The very hot summer and good rainfall during July, though drier in August, has allowed the hummingbird's favorite food plant in migration to bloom quite nicely, especially after last summer's devastation of the plants by White-tailed Deer.

The weather cooperated nicely on Tuesday, August 31st, though the nets were closed a little early due to high heat and humidity. Predicted rain on Thursday, September 2nd held off until we were closing the nets in the early afternoon; then it really came down when we were taking down the nets and poles. Dave Lancaster deserves special recognition for being the lone volunteer helping on Thursday due to a snafu with two other volunteers. Nets were set up more slowly and cautiously, to avoid being overwhelmed with birds, which luckily didn't happen. And also many thanks to Michelle Serreyn from the Nature Center and daily volunteer and owl monitor, Larry McCullough, for helping us take nets and poles down in the rain (and thunder!).

Highlights of birds banded on Tuesday, August 31 included 8 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher of the fall season, the second Marsh Wren, the first two Swainson's Thrushes, and the nice, fresh hatch-year Tennessee Warbler below, one of ten warbler species banded today.

Tennessee tends to be one of the more confusing of the fall warblers for birders. It is a species that lacks tail spots and lacks wing bars, but note the narrow wing bar in this hatch-year bird. Very fresh Tennessee Warblers often show this, as well as the crisp white edges on the tips of the primaries. Quite a nice looking bird really. Otherwise, it is greenish with a bold yellowish supercilium and a very pointed bill. Another nice warbler was this colorful hatch-year male Blackburnian Warbler, showing a hint of the adult face pattern but with bright yellow on the throat and breast instead of orange.

The bird of the day, however, was the nondescript bird in the photo below.

I used to band one or two of these each fall at the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory in Ontario, Canada, but this is the first at Metro Beach since I started in 2004. I love to quiz birders with these, as they can be quite confusing. The presence of wing bars, the overall grayish coloration with olive rump, and (not visible in the photo) narrow distinct breast streaks all point to Cape May Warbler. This hatch-year female is about as dull as they come, and the yellowish patch behind the ear coverts shown as a field mark in most field guides is practically invisible on her. Between 1989-1999, a total of 16 Cape May Warblers was banded at Metro Beach; 7 in spring and 9 in fall. So it was long overdue to be caught in my nets. Honestly, this one got me more excited than the Connecticut Warbler did last week!

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Carolina Wren, which had gone undetected all spring in the banding area for the first time in several years. Welcome back! Also, both Black-throated Blue and Black-and-white Warblers were observed in addition to the ten species banded.

Highlights of birds banded on Thursday, September 2 included another Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and five warbler species, as well as the previously mentioned 8 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and the first two Gray Catbirds of the season. The Northern Waterthrush in the photo below shows the "cinnamon" tertial edges characteristic of a hatch-year bird; something that could be detected in the field. But use caution, as lack of these pale tertial edges and tips does not indicate an adult!

Interesting birds observed, but not banded today included a begging Great Horned Owl before sunrise, Red-eyed Vireos were still singing, along with an occasional song from an Eastern Wood-Pewee (and Warbling Vireo, which was banded), and additional warbler species not banded including Nashville, Blackpoll, American Redstart, Wilson's, and Canada. At 6 a.m., while waiting for volunteers to arrive at the Day Sail parking area, many Swainson's Thrushes were heard overhead giving their nocturnal flight call, and a couple Gray-cheeked calls were detected as well.

An insect highlight was a Mottled Darner, a species I'd not seen before, tangled in the nets which may represent the first specimen of this species for the county. It is named Mottled Darner due to the mottley pattern on the sides of its thorax...other species of darner have distinct yellow bars there.

Again, many thanks to the volunteers who made banding possible on these two days: Jean Gramlich, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack.

Banding Data
TUESDAY, August 31, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:56
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 83.000
Temperature (F): 72-88
Cloud Cover: 100-20%
Wind: Calm-SE @ 0-5-10 mph
Barometer: 29.87-29.80
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 69 (plus 16 recaptures and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 20
Capture Rate: 103.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Jean Gramlich, Tom Schlack.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 8

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 released unbanded]
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-capped Chickadee - 3
House Wren - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 4
Magnolia Warbler - 3
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Canada Warbler - 2
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 29 (plus 12 recaptured)

THURSDAY, September 2, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:58
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 82.875
Temperature (F): 70-84
Cloud Cover: 95-50-100%
Wind: SW @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 29.65-29.62
Precipitation: Light rain at close
No. Banded: 80 (plus 11 recaptures and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 112.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Dave Lancaster.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 8
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured)]
House Wren - 4
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 2
[Ovenbird - 1 recaptured]
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Commnon Yellowthroat - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 48 (plus 6 recaptured)

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