Friday, 21 September 2012

Days 52 - 63 (27 days left!)

We're into the last third of our banding season, but we still haven't seen the peak yet. Here's an update on the last few days: 

Day 52 – September 10th
It rained heavily last Sunday night/Monday morning for the first time in quite a while. While the day was not too eventful in terms of bird, the damp grass meant the herptiles were out and about. There were nearly a dozen Rough-Skinned Newts moseying around the grass by the front nets, and Red-Legged Frogs near the back nets.
The most toxic animal in North America
Red-legged frog

Also, the owl nets went up today!

And Ann brought me a new chair. I almost need a ladder to sit in it. 
It's a high chair, Brian, not a highchair.

Day 55 – September 13th
Of course, exciting things happen on my day off.
While doing a check of the back nets, Brian chased what he thought was (literally) the tail-end of a mink away from Net 13. As it turns out, it was much bigger than a mink.
Gratuitous Harry Potter reference.

Day 57 – September 15th
Broke the record for number of RBNU’s caught in a year today (the record is 19, right now we’ve banded 23)!

Slow day today, only 24 birds banded.

Day 58 – September 16th
Interesting recapture today: a PSWS that was first banded in 2009!  
He hasn't been recaptured before today.

Number of birds banded today: 35

Day 61 – September 18th
Another new species today! Swamp Sparrow. They look a bit like a Lincoln’s Sparrow whose stripes have been erased.They're not very common birds, so this guy's pretty special.
Swampy didn't want his picture taken.

Also, someone at Owls has an artistic streak!

Day 62 – September 20th
New species today: Audubon’s Warbler. 
Broad-Winged Hawks were observed on census!
Also, two elk (I know, ELK!) were spotted in the upper ponds. Ian saw them, but they didn’t stay long enough for Brian and I to take a look.
A very pretty adult male MacGillivray's Warbler.

Number of birds banded today: 52

Day 63September 21st
Bird #2000 was banded today (it was a Hermit Thrush)!
Historically, today was supposed to be the busiest day of the season, but we weren’t exactly overwhelmed. Likely, our peak days will be sometime next week if it decides to rain… please come and help us out!  

Number of birds banded today: 56

 So, here's our board at the end of day 63! *'s indicate species whose record has been broken this year. 
And I did try to draw an elk but it went very poorly and I had to destroy the evidence.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Catching Up

Hello, everyone!

Better late than never, this is the blog for Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s 2012 Migration banding season! I’m Christina, this year’s intern at RP (or, if you prefer, The One With The Obnoxiously Squeaky Shoes). Our returning Bander In Charge is Brain Pomfret.

Although we’re already past halfway through the banding season (procrastination is a hard habit to kick), migration is still ramping up. Here are the highlights from the last 51 days:

Day 1 – July 21st
First day our nets are open! As expected, chaos ensued (no USB stick and no computer).
First bird banded of the year: AMRO in Net 5.
An abandoned nest was found near the back ponds, does anyone know who it belongs to?
The egg was cold :(

Number of birds banded: 45 

Townsend's Warbler

Brown Creeper

Downy Woodpecker

The ubiquitous Wilson's Warbler

Day 2 – July 22nd
The first time we meet Tumour the Song Sparrow, as well as Winnie the Shrew. Also the first time Brian sees what happens when I have too much caffeine. Net checks went by really fast.

Number of birds banded: 35

Day 7 July 27th
They were paving the road this day, so we were all shipped to our sister site at Pedder Bay (where we were able to enjoy such luxuries as the café and flush toilets). Also, Tanagers! And Waxwings!

Tisha was too busy mooching for cookies to notice the mosquito on her nose.

Day 9 – July 29th
First worm sighting down by the beach today! We’ve narrowed down the genus to Nereis spp. I know I have small feet but seriously, this worm is disturbingly huge.

Number of birds banded: 30

Does anyone have a species ID?

Day 13August 2nd
Guess who’s back (for the third time)? 
And he's still gaining weight!
Also, a new species today! Meeeet meeeet meeeeeet 
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Number of birds banded: 20

Day 16  - August 5th
Today, Hamish the Highlander came and visited the banding station. Sometimes, he replaces Brian as BIC
Hamish understands how hard it is to band AMRO's when you have small hands.

Day 21August 10th
Two new species today!
Black-Headed Grosbeak and Dark-Eyed Junco!
Why yes, that beak hurts just as much as you think it would.

Number of birds banded: 40

Day 22 – August 11th
I’ve been waiting 22 days to finally catch this bird!
Black-Throated Gray Warbler. I can see why they're our totem bird.

Also had our first encounter with the mink today. We are officially not friends.

Number of birds banded: 27

Day 24August 13th
From Brian’s Narrative: We caught leaves. Lots of leaves. Sometimes, there was a bird amongst the leaves, but not often.

For the record, I pulled 178 leaves from Net 3 today.

Number of birds banded: 23

Days 25 – 29 – August 14th – 18th
Ann, Alison and I were at UBC for the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC) this week! Rocky Point was well represented, with both a booth and posters from the three of us.

This is the most expensive piece of paper I own, other than the one that says "Bachelor of Science" on it.

Learned a lot this week (my brain felt like it was exploding a bit by the end of it) - nectivorous sandpipers, hummingbird teeth, and measuring curiosity in House Sparrows, to name just a few topics.  Also, Booze Binoculars exist.

Day 31 August 20th
The PacSlopes are either early or late for Flycatcher Friday. Amazingly, 41 PSFL’s were banded today (I think all of them were hatch-years as well). At least they’re easy to age and sex.

Hammond's Flycatcher. I swear we didn't take a pair of scissors to his tail!

Day 32 – August 21st
Today, we banded the most number of birds for the season: 77 new bands and 16 species.
Only 23 PSFL’s today...where did they go?

Day 33 August 22nd
We have two Mute Swans in the bay now. We suspect they’re from Esquimalt Lagoon, because they come up to you expecting hand-outs (just like a certain Border Collie at Pedder Bay…). We’ve named them Reginald and Regina, and Jessie made a song about them but won’t sing it for us.

Number of birds banded: 38

Day 35  August 24th
Today I discovered that newly molted (HY) Song Sparrows are incredibly soft. Brian says this is not an accepted method of aging SOSPs. 

More giant polychaetes washed up on the beach today. We placed it in the water and it immediately spawned, which was neat and kind of awkward to watch.
Also, Brian encountered his first cougar on the drive into RP today. Thankfully, the day went by and no one was predated.

Number of birds banded: 37

Day 36 – August 28th
Today we looked up to see this guy, nonchalantly spying on our banding station. This is our first glimpse of Mr. Blue (you’ll see why we named him that later).
I could edit out the red-eye, but I feel like this is a better portrayal. Barred Owls are not our friends, especially when Saw-Whet season starts.

Day 37 – August 27th
Two long-awaited species today!
Two Western Tanagers (yes, Pedder Bay, you can brag that you caught one first) and Lincoln’s Sparrow.

For such a pretty species, they sure screech and bite a lot.

The next day we caught another Tanager, which means we’ve broken the record for number of Tanagers caught at RP in a single year. Right now, Pedder Bay has caught 7. 

Number of birds banded: 48

Day 42 – August 31
Busy day today with 74 birds banded, including a new species: Fox Sparrow.
The camera adds 10 pounds... 

An exciting new project this winter will involve attaching geolocators (donated by our Purple Martin researchers – thank you!) to our overwintering FOSPs to track their migration pathways. More on this later.

Day 43 – September 1st
Despite being relocated some point up the driveway, Mr. Blue was partially recaptured (and by that I mean he escaped out of the net) about three days later. 

Day 44 – September 2nd
I was beyond ecstatic when I saw this guy in the net (he, however, was less than pleased).
Yes, Pedder Bay, you can brag that you caught 4 of them already.

Overall, it was a very good day. The cookies and coffee may have had a lot to do with it... 
I thought I’d share some of Chantal’s phenomenal photographs from today as well.  

This guy was sitting next to the banding station. Notice how he's not blue.

Day 46 – September 4th
New Species today! I asked nicely for a Sharpie (and I don’t mean the pen) today, and lo and behold…

Day 49 – September 6th
Due to a base closure, I was relocated to Pedder Bay today (and got to irritate Rick with my squeaky shoes).
New Species for them and for me today: White –Throated Sparrow!

I pride myself in my ability to make birds look maniacal.

Day 51 – September 9th
First net round, and guess what we got? I need to make requests more often.

For such a gratingly loud and boisterous bird, they’re surprisingly docile in the hand. Brian’s probably right in thinking they’re more affronted than stressed, like “how dare you put me in bander’s grip?!”

Harrier caught and escaped from Net 1 today. Thus far (if it’s the same bird, which I bet it is), he’s bounced out of Nets 2, 3 and 4 already.

The battery in my camera died before I could take a picture of our (brand new!) board before I left today, but I believe we are at just under 1600 birds, and 53 species total thus far.
I will be updating more often from this point onward. I'm still waiting for the influx of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets (we've gotten 2 so far) and when we start having 100 bird days.

I still have my fingers crossed for a Prothonotary Warbler, but Brian says I'm more likely to catch an ostrich.