Friday, September 30, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - September 23-29, 2011

The week of September 19-23 was scheduled by the Metro Park for the spraying of herbicide to control the invasive Common Reed (Phragmites australis), for the third fall season in a row. Despite being sprayed before, there was still some that had grown up adjacent to the banding area as can be seen in the photo below.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

The spraying was done on the 21st and 22nd, but unfortunately banding got rained out on Friday the 23rd. Thanks very much to Dave Lancaster and Tom Schlack for making the drive to the park and waiting it out for 3 hours for the rain that didn't stop; or even let up. Hopefully this will count toward their volunteer hours that the park tracks for all of us.

Banding was also scheduled for Friday the 24th and Sunday the 25th, and both of those days went off quite well, and we also banded later in the week on Thursday the 29th. Rain was threatening on all of these days, thanks to a stationary weather system that was the same one that rained us out on the 23rd, but other than some fog and some very wet vegetation to walk through in the mornings, we logged three very productive banding days with 96 banded on the 24th, 145 on the 25th, and 109 on the 29th. I have not made much mention of the American Goldfinches banded this fall as they're a common species usually banded in good numbers (700+ last fall). On the 24th we banded the 300th of the season and on the 29th we banded the 400th. Clearly late September is the peak of their migration.

Hatch-year male American Goldfinch

Highlights of the 96 birds banded on Saturday, September 24 included 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a good total for late September. The hummingbird in the photo below has quite a lot of sticky white pollen on its forehead and base of the upper mandible, almost certainly from the abundant Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in the banding area.

Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Humminbird

The thrush migration has been trickling along, with far fewer Swainson's Thrushes than would be expected by this time of year, but today the first two Gray-cheeked Thrushes of the season were banded.

Hatch-year Gray-cheeked Thrush

Today also saw the first White-throated Sparrow banded, although they've been in the area for at least a week. It was a near-record day for American Goldfinches, with 53 banded.

Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single Sharp-shinned Hawk and several Chimney Swifts flying overhead, as well as a Belted Kingfisher flyover which is a species not often seen in the banding area. Additional warbler species observed included Black-throated Blue and Blackpoll, but there were not a lot of warblers in the banding area today. A calling Rose-breasted Grosbeak teased us in the morning, but never found its way into the nets.

Highlights of the 145 birds banded on Sunday, September 25 included two more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the 6th Philadelphia Vireo of the season. A Tufted Titmouse was an unusual capture for the area as well. Thrushes had clearly come in overnight, as there were many more Gray-cheeked and Swainson's, highlighted by a single Wood Thrush.

Hatch-year Wood Thrush

Warblers were also much more in evidence today, with 12 species banded. This Tennessee Warbler was interesting. You might think it is one of the warblers with wing bars, and Tennessee isn't supposed to have them. Juvenile Tennessee Warblers do have pale tips on their coverts, which some individuals retain well into the fall, making them a little more confusing than normal.

Hatch-year Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warblers were again the dominant warbler species, with 26 banded which was far from a one-day record but put thus season's total well past the previous record of 91 (in fall 2006).

Hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

And completing the trio of Oreothlypis (formerly Vermivora) warblers, the first three Orange-crowned Warblers of the fall were banded today. Compare the head pattern to the Tennessee Warbler above, and note the diagnostic bright yellow undertail coverts of this Orange-crowned.

Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

The number of Northern Parulas banded at this station each year ranges from 0-4, so it was nice to catch one today.

Hatch-year female Northern Parula

The first three Yellow-rumped Warblers of the season were right on time.

Hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the second Black-throated Green Warbler of the fall was a nice hatch-year male.

Hatch-year male Black-throated Green Warbler

Indigo Buntings are very infrequently banded at this station, typically 0-1 each year. So it was truly amazing to catch FIVE of them today.

Hatch-year male Indigo Bunting

After hatch-year female Indigo Bunting

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two fly-over American Golden-Plovers, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Brown Thrasher, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak teasing us again as it did yesterday.

Highlights of the 109 birds banded on Thursday, September 29 included 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which might be the last for the season unless we catch one next week, which is certainly possible. Both hummingbirds today were carrying considerable fat for migration, and both of them weighed more than 4 grams. Typically, without fat, they weigh about 3 grams.

After hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

An Eastern Wood-Pewee was somewhat late, though not record late, and the season's first Winter Wren was banded today.

Hatch-year Winter Wren

And it was also nice to catch a hatch-year House Wren. Numbers have been way down this year, even in summer, with less than half normal numbers banded so far (usually about 20 banded each fall) and only a single hatch-year banded in August. This suggests a poor nesting season for this species, at least in the banding area.

Hatch-year House Wren

Gray Catbird is another species that has been captured in very low numbers so far, but today made up the difference with a record 14 banded! Many banding stations catch this many catbirds all the time, but for some reason this locale has fewer of them with an average of about 20 per fall season. Today's catbirds were likely all migrants, not locally nesting, as they were all carrying significant fat loads.

Hatch-year Gray Catbird

It was another pretty good thrush day, but with Gray-cheeks (6) significantly outnumbering Swainson's (2), which almost never happens. Warblers were everywhere in the banding area today, and while 47 individuals of 10 species found the nets, there were so many more in the area that this is actually a little disappointing. Captures did include another Northern Parula as well as a good number of Nashvilles (again), the best day so far this fall for Magnolias, and single Blackpoll, Black-and-white, and American Redstart.

With 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks calling in the trees as we opened the nets, I was prepared yet again to be taunted without a capture. But, at last, this hatch-year female found her way into the Field Nets.

Hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Note that the wing linings of female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are yellow while the males are rosy-pink.

Hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Another Indigo Bunting added to the five on Sunday for a total of 6, twice the previous season record.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a fly-over Black-bellied Plover, and 3 Brown Thrashers hanging around all day, sometimes even chasing each other and one sitting in plain view eating grapes off the vine. Additional warbler species observed included Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Palm, and Bay-breasted.

Banding at this station is entirely dependent on volunteers coming out to help, and this week I appreciate very much the efforts of Terri Chapdelaine, the Charlebois family (Mike, Chris, and Jake), Stevie Kuroda, the Lau family (Harry, Rose, Tessa, and Ava), Dave Lancaster, Jeremy Miller, Tom Schlack, and Bruce Watson.

Banding Data
SATURDAY, September 24, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:21
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 93.125
Temperature (F): 48-70
Cloud Cover: 0-80-20%
Wind: Calm-SSW @ 0-5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.08-30.11
Precipitation: a.m. Fog
No. Banded: 96 (plus 12 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 119.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Terri Chapdelaine, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Ava Lau, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 12
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Nashville Warbler - 4
American Redstart - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 3 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 6 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 53 (plus 1 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)

SUNDAY, September 25, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:22
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 94.25
Temperature (F): 58-72
Cloud Cover: 10-80-20%
Wind: ENE-SE @ 3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.11-30.02
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 145 (plus 12 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 25
Capture Rate: 168.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 5:00-15:30): Stevie Kuroda, Jeremy & Heather Miller (3.5 hrs), Bruce Watson.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Tufted Titmouse - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 7 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Swainson's Thrush - 8
Wood Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 8
Orange-crowned Warbler - 3
Nashville Warbler - 26 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Northern Parula - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 6 (plus 3 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 6
Indigo Bunting - 5
American Goldfinch - 47 (plus 4 recaptured)
THURSDAY, September 29, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:27
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 86.375
Temperature (F): 55-64
Cloud Cover: 100-50-100%
Wind: SE-SW @ 1-3-12 mph
Barometer: 29.78-29.72
Precipitation: a.m. Fog
No. Banded: 109 (plus 17 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 162.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Mike Charlebois (6.0 hrs), Dave Lancaster, Jeremy Miller, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 6 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Gray Catbird - 14 (plus 1 recaptured)
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 17 (plus 3 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Northern Parula - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 13
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Black-and-white Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Redstart - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 22 (plus 7 recaptured)

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