Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Metro Beach banding station report - September 9 & 15, 2012

The weather this past week began trending toward more seasonal conditions, with cooler temperatures and a bit of rain. In fact, the second day of banding scheduled for Friday, September 14, was rained out, signaling that the drought conditions of this past summer are at an end. Thanks to some wonderful volunteers, this rain-out was able to be rescheduled for the next day. On Sunday, September 9, the Nature Center had scheduled a "Hummingbirds and Monarchs" program, so the pressure was on to catch and band some hummingbirds especially after banding very few the previous week. Luckily, every group that was carted down to the banding area got to see a hummingbird in-hand. The migrants captured this past week also had a flavor of later in the season.

Many thanks to the following volunteers for making banding on these two days possible: Paul Bowling, Brandon Charlebois, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Tom Schlack, Bruce Watson, and Sue Wright.

Highlights of the 65 birds banded on Sunday, September 9 included 10 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. One of the most fun things I was able to do was show visitors how the native Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) was pollinated by the hummingbirds, since it grows abundantly right next to where we band the birds. Other visitors got to listen to a hummingbird heartbeat, while others got to release the banded birds. It was a very successful "Hummingbirds and Monarchs" event today.

Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
with Spotted Jewelweed flower.

A surprise was the Wood Thrush, which does migrate throughout September, but we don't catch this species every year, and when we do we only catch one or two of them.

Hatch-year Wood Thrush

And an unusually early migrant was a Lincoln's Sparrow. And as I've said many times before, this is one of my favorite sparrow species, with its crisp and subtle markings.

Hatch-year Lincoln's Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included singing Eastern Wood-Pewee and Warbling Vireo, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Northern Waterthrush, and flyover Chimney Swift and Bobolink.

Highlights of the 87 birds banded on Saturday, September 15 included 18 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. It was good to finally band a decent number as it was starting to look like the migration had already ended. Only the second Red-eyed Vireo of the season was also banded, this one a hatch-year bird showing a brown eye. The first one was an adult that may have spent the summer in the banding area, but this individual was likely a migrant.

Hatch-year Red-eyed Vireo

Most unexpected today was a somewhat early Winter Wren. Most years, they are seen and/or heard calling in the undergrowth before we actually catch one.

Hatch-year Winter Wren

A holdover from summer was this heavily molting adult female Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. This species isn't banded every year here.

After hatch-year female Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Marsh Wrens nest in the cattails a short distance away from the Field Nets, but the number captured each year varies considerably, and they are almost never caught in spring, and almost never out in the field! This one, the first banded here in more than a year, was a nicely plumaged adult that was molting its body feathers under the surface.

After hatch-year Marsh Wren

The first Gray-cheeked Thrushes of the season were right on time, after being seen elsewhere in the park earlier in the week.

Hatch-year Gray-cheeked Thrush

Several warbler species were captured, including Nashville, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll, American Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat. But they were in lower numbers than hoped for after the passage of yesterday's cold front and rain.

The second Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the season was banded today; it was caught in the Field Nets as was the first one earlier in the season. The record number here is three in a season, so hopefully we'll get another one...or two.

Hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Unexpected was a hatch-year male Indigo Bunting; a species caught very occasionally (not annually), and less often in fall. The tinges of blue allowed this bird to be sexed as male.

Hatch-year male Indigo Bunting

And, slightly early, were the first White-throated Sparrows of the season after they first arrived on Wednesday in the previous week. There will be many more of these in the coming weeks.

Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included flyover Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and Red-tailed Hawks, calling Red-breasted Nuthatch and Carolina Wren, and Tennessee Warbler and Northern Waterthrush. After the station was closed, most of the crew went to the beach, well away from the banding area, to see the Whimbrel and Baird's Sandpipers that were there.

Banding Data
SUNDAY, September 9, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:05
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 95.25
Temperature (F): 54-70
Cloud Cover: 10-70%
Wind: W-NW @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.89-30.00
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 65 (plus 4 recaptured)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 72.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.00 hours, 5:00-15:00): Brandon Charlebois (7 hrs), Chris Charlebois (7 hrs), Jacob Charlebois (7 hrs), Trisha Charlebois (7 hrs), Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Sue Wright.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 10
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 3
Wood Thrush - 1
Nashville Warbler - 2
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 7
American Redstart - 7
Ovenbird - 1
Mourning Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 1
American Goldfinch - 14 (plus 2 recaptured)

SATURDAY, September 15, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:11
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 94.25
Temperature (F): 52-68
Cloud Cover: 10-40%
Wind: NW @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.32-30.31
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 87 (plus 9 recaptured)
No. of Species: 19
Capture Rate: 104.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Paul Bowling, Stevie Kuroda, Tom Schlack, Bruce Watson.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 18
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 8
Nashville Warbler - 3
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4
Blackpoll Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 9 (plus 4 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 2
Northern Cardinal - 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
American Goldfinch - 22 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

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