Sunday, May 4, 2014

The final days at Long Point Bird Observatory

David teaching Marc how to band.
As the weather warmed up, so did some activity throughout the Cold Cut property and at the LPBO station.  Although there wasn't still a large "variety", the abundance was certainly up!  I was really excited that by time time I was trained enough to be able to start doing net checks and some banding on my own.  Although it wasn't until the last day when I really started getting "good" at using and reading Pyle and understanding what it meant.
Throughout the two weeks we had been getting many male Eastern Towees, like you saw in my last post. But I was especially excited to get this female in one of the nets!  

Similar to the last Flicker we got, this one was a regular Yellow-shafted Flicker.  Since this one has no "mustache" on it, we can tell that it is a female!

Another common visitor to our ground and jay traps was the red-winged blackbird! We were able to get all types of Red-wings from females, to all aged males. I do wish I had gotten photos of the different ages as a remind, it was really neat to see!  Instead, I was able to snap a shot of this Second Year bird.  In older birds, the red on it's wing would be incredibly vibrant, as would there be a more yellow band.  The buffy edges around the wing tips would be a solid black if it was an older bird.  Despite having some "history" with this species (one ripped out hair from my scalp once for nesting material...) they are a really pretty bird!

Another Blackbird we saw lots of were Common Grackles!  I had never really taken much notice to grackles before this moment, they were always just dark birds in the front yard to me.  After this trip...I have a little soft spot for them!  Every night I was able to look up into the sky and watch sometimes hundreds of them migrating past.  It was really difficult for me to learn how to differentiate between Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Rusty Blackbirds while flying...but after a long while I managed to get a slight hand on it!   Seeing them up close was also so spectacular, I had no idea how colourful they really were, this photo can't even do it justice. And their eerie!   

I think the most exciting bird I was able to see and band (minus the awesome white-eye vireo that flew away before we could take a photo!) was a Tree Swallow!  Somehow one managed to dive down low enough to catch itself in our nets.  Those who know me know that I get incredibly excited, one could even say I revert back to a small child on Christmas morning...and well...this was my Christmas morning!  I am studying Bank Swallows for my Master's Degree so areal insectivores have created a dear place in my heart.  This is the first live one I had seen close, and been able to hold (and band!) was...amazing!

Although those were all the exciting birds we had banded and taken photos of, I was pleasantly surprised to also find a Dekay's Brown Snake basking in one of the net lanes.  I almost stepped on the little guy but thankfully my herping instincts kicked in before I did!!  I had seen Dekays before, but they were always SO much smaller than this one I found...what a treat!

On my last night in Long Point I took another walk though the Provincial Park and out onto the Beach.  I had the pleasure of watching Red-breasted Mergansers swimming around the mini iceburgs, huge flocks of Double-created Cormorants flying by, and a couple hundred Bonaparte's Gulls flying and diving around the lake.  I found a log to sit on and watch from; I think it was the most peaceful spots I've been to in a really, really long time.  It might help being the only person on the beach, but it was just so peaceful. I put a few photos below from that little adventure below:

Entering the Park
Cormorants flying across the lake, ice in the background 

Red-breasted Mergansers

Floating past an sandy iceburg

Bonaparte's Gull

Sand Dunes throughout the park

Macro Sand
Everytime I come back to Long Point after having worked out here a little bit, I always had forgotten how much I love this area.  It reminds me also about how much of a treasure this part of Ontario (and even Canada/North America) this is and how lucky we are to be able to be a part of it.   I was so lucky to have been able to get to Long Point these two weeks and learnt so much while there. The banding station is full of fantastic people who are passionate and knowledgable, friendly and hilarious.  I recommend that everyone heads out to Long Point and visit the Old Cut banding station, take a walk throughout the property, check out the provincial park, and visit my personal attachment, Big Creek NWA.   Thanks again LPBO!

Yet another beautiful Long Point sunrise <3