Saturday, May 3, 2014

Long Point Banding Part 2

The next week at Long Point Bird Observatory were also fantastic.  The weather was becoming slightly warmer.  It finally began warming earlier in the morning too during the last two days, meaning we could open the nets sooner!  There wasn't too much variety of birds coming through, although there was at least one new one everyday for me! 

There were a few exciting birds that I was able to take a photo of!  One of them was this Swamp Sparrow.  This was a tick for me, both birding and banding.  These little guys are more reddish then most sparrows and have a reddish cap with grey streaking.  
A second bird that we got a lot of were White-throated Sparrows (WTSP).  This one in particular I wanted to take a photo of as he was so incredibly vibrant!  I originally always thought that male WTSPs looked like this one here and females were much more drab looking.  But, alas, I was wrong!  During my time here I learnt that there was instead, a white-morph (like this one) and a tan-morph, both of which you can really only tell their sex based on their wing length.  There were so many of these feisty little buggers, but I never got tired of hearing their "Sweet home Canada, Canada, Canada".

Another new sparrow for me was the Field Sparrow!  It surprisingly reminded me a lot of the Snow Bunting I watched being banded last fall.  As most sparrows I knew were darker and drabber looking, but these ones, certainly look gorgeous up close!

 The first warbler to hit the banding station this spring was a Pine Warbler!  I have seen a few of these before, but it was always in the fall.  Seeing one in spring for the first time was so amazing!  We banded about 2 or 3 in total and up They are beautiful!  My favourite moment with this bird was one day when a few of us were waiting for another net check to come along.  Marc-Andre, a volunteer from Quebec, noticed the bird really close to the station and as we watched it, it flew to one of the rain barrels and started taking a drink. I had a hilarious acting session through a window to Dayna (LPBO Coordinator) who was inside the building to look out at it, and when she finally did the excitement on her face was classic!  I can't wait for more warblers to start moving on through!

Another day I was doing a net check with Joe, an Australian visitor who is volunteering with the station for the spring and fall migration. We came around a corner and spotted a bundle of Juncos in a net and then both of us stood shocked to see, in the middle of them, a Sharp-shinned Hawk!  Joe started running like mad to get it out of the net and was like so happy to have his first Canadian raptor in his hand!  These little guys always make the funniest faces.

Along with us at the station there are also a variety of researchers, Kristin and Jordi were two of them!  I was lucky enough one morning (at like 5am!) to see them releasing the first bat they caught of the season!  Kristin is studying silver-haired bats (one of my favourite bat species), and let me take a close up of one!  Previously to this I'd only ever seen dead bats (through windfarm surveys I did) so it was nice to finally experience a live one.  Personally, I think silver-haired ones have the sweetest personalities of the bat family!

Along with bats and birds, I saw my very first herp of the season!  It turned out to be a melanistic gartersnake!  There aren't too many populations of these around, but Long Point is definitely a hot spot for them!

And then....It snowed again!!!

With the cold brought in another lack of birds through the area. Tree swallows stopped flying, as did the bats.  I felt bad for them all, coming this way to only be hit by yet another cold snap.  We did, however, still get some birds through our ground and jay traps that were really exciting to me!  The first one is the Eastern Towee.  If you've ever heard people telling you about "what birds say" when they sing, then you know it's incredibly difficult sometimes to get that out of your head.  I found this especially true of the Towee. Even now when I'm home I sometimes find myself walking around singing "Drink your teaaaaa!"

A second exciting bird we caught during the snow-blast was a Northern Flicker.  BUT!  This wasn't just any was an Integrate! I always knew flickers as being called "Northern Flicker", which they are, but you can also get much more specific.  In eastern Canada they are the subspecies Yellow-shafted Flicker (because the shaft of the feather is yellow!) where as in western Canada they are Red-shafted (you guessed it...because their feather shaft is red).  There are also some other differences between the two.  This one we caught (as seen below) has mostly yellow feathers, but a few of the primaries have an orange tint.  This means that somewhere down the gene pool, a yellow and red-shafted mated, creating a hybrid!

 Walking around the property there were many other birds that could be heard such as red-breasted nuthatch, Canada Geese, Kingfishers, Tree Swallows, American Bitterns, Woodcocks, and more!!  Long Point really is such a magical place!

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Now...there are just a few more photos that I will be going through and posting in a Part 3 section.  Then I've gotten all the Long Point outta me....for now.

Old Cut Lighthouse