Sunday, June 21, 2015

Quick Stint at Long Point

Obviously my promise to write every week failed epically...I can't even believe that it's the end of June already!   I will try to catch up as best I can!

Right after our Birdathon, I zoomed right off to Long Point, near Port Rowan, to learn about radio tracking birds.  Unfortunately, we didn't catch too many birds that were able to be tagged, so I was excited to do a little bit of banding while I was there too!  Just some of the birds I was able to get my hands on included Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Blue-winged Warbler (that I'm really sad I didn't get a photo of!), Blue Jays, and others that I took some photos of below:

A beautiful Ovenbird

Wilson's Warbler
A favourite of mine...the Magnolia Warbler
Eastern Kingbird
Mourning Warbler
This fantastic Blue Jay!  We placed him in a kid's hand who was so entertained by it just laying there on it's back!
Along with banding birds, there was of course a never ending supply of nesting Tree Swallows and also House Wrens!  I always love to see them flying about and singing.

It just so happened that while I was visiting there was an alert for a rare bird, a White-faced Ibis!  My labmate and I went for a little jaunt to find these guys and it was surprisingly easier than I imagined!  They were along the side of a pond in a farm field, of course at the furthest point possible!  A nice couple stopped by to also look at them and allowed me to take a closer look through their scope.  

The main point of heading to Long Point was to learn how to apply radio tags and how to use radio trackers and tower to track a bird's movements.  I worked with a few members of Bird Studies Canada and Environment Canada to learn the protocols and how to use the variety of technology that is available.  It was so cool to be able to walk through a forest and pin-point where a bird was!

Since that visit to Long Point we have set up a small side-project focused on telemetry!  We have placed two radio tracking towers at our lakeshore locations.   The landowners have been fantastic in letting us set these things thank you! 

We also have a few handheld radio trackers that we are using.  Stations have been set up around the area I have deployed tags on the birds and we hope to see where they are foraging and perhaps even how they are migrating from the area (eg. where they roost, timing of fall migration, and where they go in the early stages of migration). Unfortunately our tags only last about a month, so fingers crossed they last long enough to get all of this!

Assistants conducting telemetry and insect count surveys.

First Bank Swallow to be Radio Tagged!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Great Canadian Birdathon 2015

The Great Canadian Birdathon, previously called the Baillie Birdathon, is a fun fundraising event to raise money for Avian Conservation, local wildlife groups and local bird banding stations.  Money raised goes directly to these groups to help support the conservation and research of birds!  The money that I was able to raise will go to Bird Studies Canada as well as the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station, the station where I was able to get my first real taste at bird banding and fell even deeper in love with birds.

Thank you to everyone who put in a donation, large or small, towards this awesome event...especially those who sponsored me!  It has taken me a bit of time to get around to sitting and writing this update on the Birdathon...but here it is!

Our Birdathon team consisted of Dan Chronowic (my lab mate), Ariel Lenske (our honorary lab mate), Michael Colley (boyfriend and honorary birder), and myself.  With all of us conducting field work, it took quite a while to find a date that worked for us all.  We begun our count on May 16th at 2:00 from whatever location we were at and then throughout the next 24 hours we visited quite a few different spots!  The starting point for Mike and I, was at my lakeshore sites where I was conducting nest counts; this made my first bird of the Birdathon, of course, a Bank Swallow!

Once my nest counts were over, we made our way back to Peterborough to meet up with Dan where we spend about two hours birding around Trent.  Some of the stops around Trent included the pedestrian bridges for Cliff Swallows, around the Rowing House, and throughout Trent's Nature Reserve.  We saw a wide variety of species here with the most exciting being:  Magnolia Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, and Hummingbird!
Black-and-white Warbler
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Bluebird
We then came back to my house for a BBQ and birding in the little creek behind my house.  Once supper was over we headed out to Haroldtown Conservation Area to look for Woodcock. We got there around dusk, just in time for the mosquitos to have a feast on us.  We climbed to the top of the hill and could hear White-throated Sparrows all around us.  Woodcocks also began singing and we were able to count at least three around us!  Unfortunately it was too dark to actually see them, but we could hear their "peeent" call, as well as listen to them flying through the air during their little dance.  If you've never seen this in real-life...I would definitely take 5 minutes to youtube this!

A little bit of non-bird excitement was when we were on top of the hill, we suddenly heard the yipping and yapping of coyotes in the near distance! It's been so long since I've heard coyotes calling to one another. Do they ever need a howling lesson! 

The next morning we woke early and began the day in Beavermede Park, specifically in the Ecology Park area.  Our first bird of the morning was a Tennessee Warbler, which was actually a lifer for me! A bundle of Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, and Red-eyed Vireos were singing, but overall not too many "new" species for the day.  
Red-eyed Vireo
We then headed past Trent University to Lakefield, making a few stops along the Otonobee River to check out the trails.  Once we finished up at the trails we headed to the Lakefield Sewage Lagoons where we spotted some Least Sandpipers, Black Terns and of course a bundle of nesting Tree Swallows.  The Gadwall and Northern Shoveler that had been hanging around the area were still there too! 

Tree Swallow
We finished up here and drove out past Lakefield to checkout some hayfields for a few grassland species, but we found much more!  In the grasslands we spotted Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrows, and Kestrels.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to spot any Grasshopper Sparrows or any Upland Sandpipers, which was a target species for all of us.

Driving between grasslands we would stop at random patches of forest or swamp to see what else we could spot.  At these quick stops we spotted: Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, Brown Thrasher, Swamp Sparrow, and a number of others.  At one particular spot, we noticed a small pond at the end of a farm field and noticed something tall wading through the mud.  It turns out that we found about 8 Solitary Sandpipers, 2 Killdeer and 1 Lesser Yellowlegs!

Solitary Sandpiper
Once we finished in this location, we drove back to Lakefield and stopped at the Lakefield Marsh. It was my first time visiting this area and I certainly will be back! We even spotted a Yellow Warbler nest while we were looking out from the observation tower.

Eventually we made our way back to Peterborough in time for Dan to get back to his young ones, Ariel to get back in the field, Mike to drive back to Perry Sound, and myself to start driving to Long Point.  That's field season for you!

Here is the final list of every bird that our team saw for our 24 hour Birdathon.  Since we put it into E-bird it unfortunately didn't keep the order in which we actually saw them.  So instead they are separated based on the day we first saw the species.

Day 1:

1. Bank Swallow
2. Red-Breasted Merganser
3. European Starling
4. Canada Goose
5. Mallard
6. Ruffed Grouse
7. Double-crested Cormorant
8. Great Blue Heron
9. Turkey Vulture
10. Osprey
11. American Woodcock
12. Herring Gull
13. Rock Pigeon
14. Mourning Dove
15. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
16. Belted Kingfisher
17. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
18. Downy Woodpecker
19. Hairy Woodpecker
20. Northern Flicker
21. Pileated Woodpecker
22. Olive-sided Flycatcher
23. Eastern Phoebe
24. Great Crested Flycatcher
25. Eastern Kingbird
26. Blue Jay
27. American Crow
28. Tree Swallow
29. Barn Swallow
30. Cliff Swallow
31. Black-capped Chickadee
32. House Wren
33. Eastern Bluebird
34. American Robin
35. Gray Catbird
36. Cedar Waxwing
37. Ovenbird
38. Black-and-white Warbler
39. Nashville Warbler
40. Common Yellowthroat
41. American Redstart
42. Magnolia Warbler
43. Yellow Warbler
44. Black-throated Green Warbler
45. Wilson's Warbler
46. Chipping Sparrow
47. Field Sparrow
48. Song Sparrow
49. White-throated Sparrow
50. Northern Cardinal
51. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
52. Red-winged Blackbird
53. Common Grackle
54. Brown-headed Cowbird
55. American Goldfinch
56. House Sparrow

Day 2:

57. Gadwall
58. Northern Shoveler
59. Wild Turkey
60. Common Loon
61. American Bittern
62. Northern Harrier
63. Red-tailed Hawk
64. Killdeer
65. Spotted Sandpiper
66. Solitary Sandpiper
67. Lesser Yellowlegs
68. Least Sandpiper
69. Black Tern
70. American Kestrel
71. Eastern Wood-pewee
72. Least Flycatcher
73. Warbling Vireo
74. Red-eyed Vireo
75. Common Raven
76. White-breasted Nuthatch
77. Brown Thrasher
78. Northern Waterthrush
79. Tennessee Warbler
80. Savannah Sparrow
81. Swamp Sparrow
82. Bobolink
83. Eastern Meadowlark
84. Baltimore Oriole
85. House Finch
86. Chimney Swift

 Thanks again for supporting Team Gullamity of Bird Brains!  We can't wait to take part again next year.

Happy Naturing!

Team Photo!