Grey skies over TTP

The varying fall weather greatly influenced migration monitoring efforts at the station last week.  Inclement weather not only limits migration activity but also impacts how our monitoring protocols are applied.  The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station Migration Monitoring Protocol is a comprehensive guiding document that describes practices and protocols implemented at the station, ensuring the health and safety of birds over all else.  TTPBRS follows the Bander's Code of Ethics in all its operations.

Anticipating and responding to deteriorating weather is the responsibility of the station’s coordinator and volunteers.  Weather information such as wind direction and strength, temperature, precipitation, cloud cover and visibility are recorded three times daily (at opening, census and closing) and the local weather forecast is closely monitored. Being acutely aware of current and imminent weather follows the Bander’s Code of Ethics and allows for migration monitoring data to be standardized.  When weather is marginally inclement nets are evaluated on an individual basis and at the first sign of unfavorable weather, monitoring activities are postponed and nets are closed.  The daily census takes place regardless of weather, with the exception of thunderstorms.

Luckily, the weather forecast calls for improved conditions this week.  We can hopefully expect good numbers of fall migrants these next few days.


Sora at Cell One

TTP naturalists were delighted late last week when a Sora (Porzana carolina) was flushed near Cell One.  The Sora is a small waterbird that breeds in wetlands.  It was recognized by its slate gray body, short, yellow bill, short tail (often held upright showing white underneath) and black face.

This demure waterbird is contrasted by its distinct vocalizations. Soras are a ground foraging species, rummaging for seeds, insects and snails. Although soras are more often heard than seen, they are sometimes spotted walking near open water.  These photos, captured by TTP naturalist Ann Gray (Sept 2011), show how this small timid bird can walk on dense vegetation on the water.

Like for many other marsh birds, important threats to this species are pollution and destruction of wetlands required for breeding, migration and wintering.  To support the restoration of wetland habitats, please contribute to the habitat work implemented at Tommy Thompson Park.  Discover the many ways your can make a donation here.


Osprey sightings at TTP

Ospreys are fierce hunters.  They are fully equipped with sharp eyes (eight times sharper than that of humans),  reversible outer toes, sharp spicules (needle like barbs) on the underside of the talons to get a good grip on slippery prey and nostrils that close to keep out water during dives.  It's no wonder that fish swimming in Cell One scatter as the shadow of a soaring Osprey falls on the shallow waters of the wetland.

Sightings of a patrolling Osprey have been recorded by TRCA staff and visitors at Tommy Thompson Park for the past few weeks.  Fortunate observers have spotted this highly specialized fish eater lunging feet first over the embayments and wetlands or even flying over with prey locked tightly in its talons.

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Secretive bird makes an appearance

Although the beginning of fall migration monitoring at the station has been slow, there have been some notable highlights.  Those of you who benefit from migration updates from Nigel Shaw, the station's expert birder and coordinator, already know about the great species and station firsts that have been recorded to date.  This one was too good not to blog about!

A Northern Waterthrush, a usually secretive bird, made itself highly visible and even posed for the paparazzi this weekend.  A bird of northern forests, the Northern Waterthrush sings its loud, ringing song from wooded swamps and bogs.  This ground foraging bird closely resembles the Louisiana Waterthrush, but can be distinguished by it's whitish or yellowish eyestripe and heavier streaking on the breast and flanks.  Like other warbler species, the Northern Waterthrush exhibits a fondness for water, making TTP an ideal spot to stop and refuel on the way to wintering grounds in Central America.

Want to stay up to date on the latest migrants coming through Tommy Thompson Park?  Become a TTPBRS member today!