vrijdag 30 september 2011

An excellent ending of the month September!

As today was the last today of September we hoped for a nice ending of the month. The weather forecast for today didn't look promising at all: 70% chance of rain and strong SW winds.. When I woke up around 3.30 I heard it was raining quite heavily.. I got up at 5.45 and heard the wind outside. That didn't look promising at all! When we started opening the nets around 6.35 there wasn't much wind blowing and on the radar it seemed that we wouldn't have any rain, good! I probably saw a rail flying past the nets, while I was opening the pond nets, the light was bad however. Brandon flushed two American Woodcocks while opening of which one bounced against a net that he had just partially opened.. bummer! (Later in the morning I found Woodcock feathers in a net along Long Lane, so we probably had one hanging..) He also had a Nighthawk just flying over the nets. Already after the first round we knew it would be a good day. The first round resulted in more or less 50 birds. The second round was as good and the rounds after resulted in good numbers and species too. This day was the day with the highest numbers and diversity so far this fall, with 227 birds. We banded 179 new birds spread over 39 species. Black-billed Cuckoo (lifer) and Dark-eyed Junco for new in the hand for me today. While helping with the tunnel I also had a Red-headed Woodpecker flying overhead, which was a lifer for me, too bad my binoculars were laying inside.. There were a lot of Sharpie's around today but none were caught eventhough we saw several birds hunting low through the bandinng area. I even saw of Sharp-shinned Hawk perched a metre behind me in a small tree while I was outside helping with the tunnel. Several times this morning I saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flying by, didn't end up in the net yet though..

With today being the last day of September we can have a look at our totals for this month. This September we banded a total of 2260 new individuals spread over a spectacular number of 80 species!

Totals for the 30th of September:

Black-billed Cuckoo 1 -
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1 -
Eastern Phoebe 3 -
Philadelphia Vireo 1 -
Red-eyed Vireo 1 -
Tufted Titmouse 3 -
House Wren 1 -
Winter Wren 1 -
Gray-cheeked Thrush 3 -
Swainson's Thrush 9 -
Wood Thrush 1 -
Gray Catbird 18 -
Brown Thrasher 1 -
Tennessee Warbler 5 -
Nashville Warbler 1 -
Chestnut-sided Warbler 3 -
Magnolia Warbler 38 -
Cape May Warbler 3 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler 5 - one of the Appalachian race Cairnsii
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 -
Black-throated Green Warbler 6 -
Palm Warbler (Western) 3 -
Blackpoll Warbler 6 - (highest daily total so far this fall)
American Redstart 7 -
Ovenbird 1 -
Northern Waterthrush 2 -
Connecticut Warbler 2 -
Common Yellowthroat 2 -
Wilson's Warbler 2 -
Scarlet Tanager 8 - (which brought the monthly total to 71!!)
Eastern Towhee 3 -
Song Sparrow 2 -
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 -
Swamp Sparrow 3 -
Dark-eyed Junco 1 -
Northern Cardinal 2 -
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5 -
Indigo Bunting 9 -
American Goldfinch 14 -

Total 179, 39 species

Today's photos:
The sun came through once, giving nice colours!
Dark-eyed Junco, hatching year; this one belongs to an Eastern race, having a blueish pink bill, not bright and pink like the normal variant.
Gray-cheeked Thrush, hatching year; a bright individual

Black-billed Cuckoo, hatching year; not the buffy tips on the coverts, plus the yellow eye-ring (red with adults).
Black-billed Cuckoo says hi!
Footprint of a Black Bear near one of the nets. Possibly from the one we saw last week.

And now let's see what October has in store for us!

PS. Mary's homemade Apple pie from today was delicious! (As expected haha)

donderdag 29 september 2011

Birding with Brandy

Instead of last Monday being our day-off, today Thursday, the 29th of September was our day-off. So no banding took place this morning, which was a pity because as soon as Brandon and I reached the banding area this morning we could see there were a lot of birds moving. First a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flew past. Then Brandon briefly heard a Blue-winged Warbler singing. In the grass we could see a lot of Chipping and Song Sparrows foraging and in the trees there we plenty of birds around. We saw probably 15+ Scarlet Tanagers in total, foraging.

Scarlet Tanager
 While we walked on we saw 2 Northern Parula's, a few Grosbeaks, a Blackburnian Warbler, an Ovenbird, quite a few Black-throated Green and Magnolia Warblers and a Tennessee Warbler. While we walked back to the car a large group of Chimney Swifts had gathered above the ponds, probably over a hundred birds, impressive! 
One of the two Northern Parula's
The Blackburnian Warbler male. The bird foraged high up in the trees and the light was terrible so all I could get were these recordshots..

We had heard from Drew and Bob about a bog up the ridge in the nearby Linn Runn State Park and as we had a day off we decided to check it out. We drove there, through the wonderful Linn Runn State Park, with tall trees and creeks everywhere (that hold plenty of Louisiana Waterthrushes in summer).
High trees!
The bog
Trees in the bog 
Spruces at the bog, pointing to the east because of the inluence of the wind up the ridge!
Pitcher Plants; carnivorous plants, cool!

We didn't see much at the bog though, so we decided to head out to the Beam Rocks, which is a nice look-out of the ridges of the Forbes State Forest (which is in Laurel State Park, close to Linn Runn)
Beam Rocks

It is getting noticably colder and tomorrow will be even colder! It is very windy at the moment and tomorrow there is a high percent change of rain. So lets hope we're lucky tomorrow and hopefully we will do some good banding at the last day of September!

Lazy birding from the porch

The conditions this morning were perfect. A sky covered with clouds, a bit of fog in the morning and most important of all: no wind. We had a nice morning but no real specialities were caught. We banded 90 birds, spread over 32 species. 132 in total including recaps.

The totals:

Downy Woodpecker 1 -
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2 -
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1 -
Eastern Phoebe 4 -
Blue-headed Vireo 2 -
Philadelphia Vireo 1 -
Blue Jay 1 -
House Wren 2 -
Gray-cheeked Thrush 2 -
Swainson's Thrush 10 -
Wood Thrush 3 -
Gray Catbird 2 -
Tennessee Warbler 2 -
Nashville Warbler 1 -
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2 -
Magnolia Warbler 18 -
Cape May Warbler 3 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1 -
Black-throated Green Warbler 5 -
American Redstart 3 -
Ovenbird 1 -
Connecticut Warbler 1 -
Common Yellowthroat 1 -
Hooded Warbler 2 -
Scarlet Tanager 4 -
Eastern Towhee 2 -
Chipping Sparrow 1 -
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 -
Swamp Sparrow 3 -
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1-
Indigo Bunting 2 -
American Goldfinch 5 -

Total 90, 32 species

Downy Woodpecker, hatching year female
Eastern Towhee, after hatching year male; note the red eye
American Redstart, hatching year female; this redstart had a second A3 as you can see above, something I've never seen before!

After we got back from the banding, which was around 14.30 Brandon and I made some (healthy!) turkey burgers and ate them outside, on our porch. We've hung a bird feeder outside our cabin to attract some birds, and I've put it there again since yesterday. Now there are a lot of Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadee's around. A White-breasted Nuthatch was seen today on the feeder as well. While we sat outside we noticed a lot of birds on the move. In a short period of time we saw a Blackpoll Warbler, several Magnolia Warblers, a Scarlet Tanager, A Wood-Pewee, several Cedar Waxwings, a Downy Woodpecker and some Blue Jays!
Tufted Titmouse on the feeder
White-breasted Nuthatch on the feeder
Blue Jay in the front garden

Then suddenly - while I was already sitting outside for a while- I saw something moving in the corner of my eye. With the bare eye I could see it was a middle-sized birds. I grabbed my binoculars and through the leafs of the trees I found this guy perched on a brench:
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, scratching its face
Watching me

All in all a satisfying day! (Last Monday was better though because Heather made Cinnamonrolls for us, and Alena made a Pumpkin-cheese cake for us! Friday will be as good too because Mary will make us an delicious Apple pie, isn't that right Mary? :D )

dinsdag 27 september 2011

The warblers aren't gone yet

We're reaching the end of September now and soon things will be changing, sparrows and kinglets will replace the warblers. Luckily, it isn't that far yet, because there should be still more warblers to come! Compared to last year, numbers on warblers are still low, so we're hoping to get another good push of warblers this week, and hopefully the first week of October too. The last three days have been good with each day over a hundred birds banded. When I woke up this morning it was raining.. I was like: oooooh not again! I was glad that the rain died at 7.30 so we could open the nets. We opened them later then usual, due to the the rain. There was not much migration last night, but there were still enough birds around. Around 10.15 I came across a nice flock of warblers in one net: 6 Tennessee Warblers, 3 Black-throated Green Warblers, 1 Common Yellowthroat and a Magnolia Warbler. We processed 136 birds today. 100 of them were new, spread over 29 species. A nice hatching year Blackburnian Warbler was today's highlight.

Totals 9/27/11

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2 - (still around apparently!)
Least Flycatcher 1 -
Eastern Phoebe 6 -
Philadelphia Vireo 1 -
Red-eyed Vireo 1 -
Black-capped Chickadee 1 -
House Wren 1 -
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1 -
Swainson's Thrush 5 -
Gray Catbird 12 -
Tennessee Warbler 6 -
Nashville Warbler 1 -
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1 -
Magnolia Warbler 16 -
Cape May Warbler 1 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler 4 -
Black-throated Green Warbler 4 -
Blackburnian Warbler 1 -
Blackpoll Warbler 1 -
American Redstart 6 -
Ovenbird 3 -
Northern Waterthrush 1 -
Common Yellowthroat 6 -
Scarlet Tanager 3 -
Eastern Towhee 1 -
White-throated Sparrow 2 - first of the season
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1 -
Indigo Bunting 4 -
American Goldfinch 6 -

Total 100, 29 species

During the closing of the nets I had my biggest flock of Broad-winged Hawk so far; a group of 9 birds flew past, in a southern direction. At near Hawk Watching Points huge flocks of Broad-winged Hawks can be seen in fall (especially in October), so we'll definitively go there sometime.

Indigo Bunting, after hatching-year male; still some blue in the face
Blackburnian Warbler, hatching year male
Scarlet Tanager, after hatching-year male; first adult I've seen so far, not scarlet anymore however :(
Black-throated Green Warbler, after hatching-year male
Black-throated Blue Warbler 'Appalachian race', after hatching-year male; this bird is from the eastern race (local breeders), not often captured here at Powdermill. Note the black striping on the back and compare it with the adult male from the 2 days ago for example.
A really fat Tennessee Warbler, after hatching-year male

Fall and wind = dropping leafs

Due to the moderate breeze today, blowing from an souteasterly direction, we could notice a lot of dropping leafs.. I think every bird bander (or ringer) hates extracting leafs from the nets. Today we caught more leafs in the nets than birds, but this just means we had a lot of leafs, because we caught a good amount of birds today, 131 in total, similar to yesterday. While doing a round later in the morning I came across a net loaded with oak leafs and twigs. At least I get more experience now in extracting bir.... leafs!
What a feast! (and it is only to get worse)

No real specialities were banded today, but Maggie's were well represented again. Vireo's were, strange enough, absent today. Below today's list:

Eastern Wood-Pewee 2 -
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 2 -
Blue Jay 2 -
Black-capped Chickadee 1 -
House Wren 1 -
Winter Wren 1 -
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 -
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1 -
Swainson's Thrush 13 -
Gray Catbird 14 -
Blue-winged Warbler 1 - (we're still waiting for a Golden-winged!)
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1 -
Magnolia Warbler 20 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler 4 - (of which 3 were adult males if I'm not mistaken)
Black-throated Green Warbler 2 -
Blackpoll Warbler 1 -
American Redstart 4 -
Ovenbird 3 -
Northern Waterthrush 4 -
Common Yellowthroat 7 -
Hooded Warbler 2 -
Scarlet Tanager 2 -
Eastern Towhee 5 -
Song Sparrow 1 -
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 -
Northern Cardinal 1 -
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1 -
Indigo Bunting 2 -
American Goldfinch 2 -

Total 103, 29 species

Blue-winged Warbler, hatching year female; only the second female this fall, and the one and only young individual of the 9 BWWA caught this fall.
Northern Cardinal, hatching year male; Northern Cardinals undergo an eccentric wing moult and are therefore difficult to age in fall, as both young and adults moult (ageing them in October, isn't possible anymore in most cases). This is young bird is probably from an early brood as it already has a red bill. Normally, in this time of year, young birds still have a bleak beak with black spots.
Eastern Towhee, hatching year male; young birds have a brown eye whilst adults have a red eye. Males and females can be seperated by plumage: as you can see males are entirely black on the upperparts, females on the other hand are entirely brown.
Blue Jay, after hatching-year; note the blue primary coverts, young birds have dull, brownish coloured primary coverts.

maandag 26 september 2011

Once upon a time there were 27 Catbirds...

We caught 27 Gray Catbirds this morning, certainly today's highlight (ahum..)! Normally, we are used to mostly recapturing Gray Catbirds in our nets but today was different as we got a lot of new ones. So because this was the first time for me to catch that many 'new' Catbirds I decided that would be my title for this blog post, amazing, isn't it? We started the day with some cloud cover but the clouds disappeared soon. At 6.50 in the morning I had an American Bittern flying overhead. it was hesitating if it should come down, but it decided not to land and flew away.. would be a great bird to find in one of the nets! We had decent numbers today. Again a Yellow-throated Vireo and this time also a new White-eyed Vireo. We banded a late Hummer, I also saw one foraging on flowers later in the morning. Raptors were conspicuous, with some Broad-wingeds migrating, quite a few Red-tailed Hawks migrating, a Cooper's raging over the nets, a Sharpie around in the banding area and an Osprey migrating. Today we had very few recaptures, only 14! 118 birds were banded, spread over 31 species, see the totals below:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1 - the last one?
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 -
White-eyed Vireo 1 -
Yellow-throated Vireo 1 -
Blue-headed Vireo 1 -
Red-eyed Vireo 2 -
Blue Jay 2 -
Black-capped Chickadee 1 -
House Wren 3 -
Gray-cheeked Thrush 4 -
Swainson's Thrush 17 -
Wood Thrush 5 -
Gray Catbird 27 - !!!!!!!
Tennessee Warbler 3 -
Northern Parula 1 -
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1 -
Magnolia Warbler 11 -
Cape May Warbler 1 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler 3 -
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 -
Blackpoll Warbler 2 -
American Redstart 1 -
Connecticut Warbler 1 -
Common Yellowthroat 10 -
Hooded Warbler 1 -
Song Sparrow 4 -
Swamp Sparrow 2 -
Northern Cardinal 1 -
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1 -
Indigo Bunting 2 -
American Goldfinch 6 -

Total 118 (132 incl recaps), 31 species

From left to right: Ellen (Deputy Director, Carnegie Museum of Natural History), Bob (founder of the Powdermill Bird Banding Labaratory), Mary and Alena. 
From left to right: Drew, Brandy and Mike
Apart from Chipmunks, Bullfrogs can be found in our mistnets too..
Screaming Blue Jay, hatching year

I found a place with a beautiful background for photographing birds in the hand, see the photos below:
Red-bellied Woodpecker, hatching year male
Blue-headed Vireo, hatching year
Black-throated Blue Warbler, after hatching-year male; amazing blue colours!
Osprey, migrating south

Around 16.00 I decided to make a little tour with my cool bike called Trasher. I drove along route 381 for a while and then turned left on a road called the Allen road. Along this road Bob had recently seen an Olive-sided Flycatcher. While I drove along the road I soon had a new species for my list here, I flushed a Meadow Lark in a nearby pasture. I saw another two when I cycled back along the road a little later. I saw some Red-tailed Hawks too:
Red-tailed Hawk

A bit further down the road there was a gravel road going to the right. It looked promising so I drove down this gravel road. Soon I came across two ponds that held a lot of hunting Phoebe's, but also 2 Green Herons:
Green Heron nr. 1
Green Heron nr. 2

Besides these birds I didn't see anything else of interest along this road. On my way back to the cabin I stopped by Powdermill and I did a short walk. This delivered me a couple of migrating Broad-winged Hawks:
 Broad-winged Hawk, migrating