Sunday, May 3, 2015

April start to field season

This year, I begun my field work a few weeks early to get out some insect traps before the Bank Swallows arrived.  The first two weeks there wasn't much bird or bug activity, however this last week was loaded with midges!  The photo below is just one of the insect traps that I put out by Lake Ontario..and WOW....was it ever full of midges! There hadn't been many Bank Swallows on the lake at this point...I counted maybe 50 at most, so I am hoping that next week there will be many more around to take advantage of this hatch!


Bank Swallows just arrived into gravel pits this past week and I've seen them starting to scout out old burrows and starting to dig new ones.  Hopefully by next week they will be back in almost full force for me and my assistants to start recording!

There have been a variety of other birds out on the lake and in the pits however that have kept me entertained!  One of these has been the Savannah Sparrow....they are almost everywhere! At one site alone there was likely around 10 of them and I have even heard them at multiple gravel pits!  This was the first year I was actually able to get a nice shot of one!  

At another one of my sites on the lake, I saw my first Kestrel of the year.  It was entertaining to watch about four Northern Flickers flying all around the Kestrel, almost like they were all teasing it!  Suddenly a whole flock of Starlings also flew into the tree, while the Kestrel remained pretty oblivious to the snacks in the same tree as it!


One of the more exciting birds I saw came into the gravel pits just last week!  I have to say that it's one of my favourite sparrows just because of the amazing song that it was...the Vesper's Sparrow!  It was singing away up on a tree top, getting more and more vocal.  I took out my iPhone bird call app to double check that I did indeed ID it correctly by song (you sometimes forget after 6 months of them being gone!).  As soon as I played the call the little guy just got insanely feisty.  He started bouncing around a lot more, ruffling all his feathers, calling, and just being overall much more territorial.  Obviously, I got the ID correct!  So I turned off the sound asap, took a few shots of it, and went about my day!  The next day a few more showed up at some other really means summer is here eh!

At one particular pit, there is a pair of Killdeer who have nested the last few years amongst the gravel.  They blend so well into the environment that I often completely forget they are even there until they start with their "KILL" screams. Last year, they laid 4 eggs but my best guess is that they were predated, as we never saw any young. So my fingers are crossed that they become successful parents this year!

My assistants start tomorrow, which is so exciting and yet so terrifying to be a boss again!  I am really excited to take them out into the field.  I am hoping to try and write every weekend or so...and hopefully that hopes come true! anyone who has worked long hours in the field knows...weekends are meant to only sleep and eat!

Happy Naturing!