9/30/2005

BLACK THROATED-GREEN WARBLER

9/24/2005

SCARLET TANAGER

And then there were hundreds!

Both species of kinglet and White-throated Sparrows were everywhere today as we banded 158 birds from 33.5 net hours for a capture rate of 4.4 birds/net hour! Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-crowned Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warbler and Brown Creeper were also abundant. Nothing unusual turned up today although we did band the first Scarlet Tanager of the fall as well as an Orange-crowned Warbler and another Sharp-shinned Hawk.
 
 
 

9/23/2005

BROWN THRASHER

Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS-Sept 16-22

The seventh week of fall migration was our busiest of the season so far as high numbers of thrushes, warblers and White-throated Sparrows were on the move. The week also featured some passage of vireos (mostly Red-eyed), flycatchers, kinglets and creepers. In all 343 birds were banded during a week filled with strong northerly winds. High winds associated with a cold front on the 16th cancelled banding coverage on that day. Bird activity was noticeably higher on the following morning as 101 birds were banded. There was a sharp influx of Northern Flicker (20 DT), Gray-cheeked Thrush (28), Myrtle Warbler (65) and White-throated Sparrow (45). Raptors were also moving through on the 18th which resulted in our first ever capture and banding of a Northern Harrier! A small surge of late fall migrant species such as Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Winter Wren arrived on this day. On the shorebird front, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover and the same Red Knot reported last were recorded on a daily basis during the week. September 19 was another solid day of migration monitoring as 91 birds were banded of 23 species. Our second ever Hooded Warbler was captured and released unbanded on this day (species at risk are now released unbanded). Also on the 19th the first Semipalmated Sandpipers for the TTPBRS checklist were observed on the beach.  The 20th was reported as a mega-day for migration monitoring stations at Long Point Bird Observatory and Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory however winds were too strong here in Toronto which resulted a census but no mist-netting. Winds shifted to the south and west for the 21st and 22nd respectively which meant fewer birds but still some excellent variety. Winds were apparently favourable for Blue Jays on the 22nd as 470 were recorded on the day which is a season high so far. Fall migration is about to kick into high gear as we near the peak at Tommy Thompson Park (late September-mid October) so look forward to some bulky reports in the coming weeks!
 
HIGHLIGHTS
 
Banding
Sep 17
24-Gray-cheeked Thrush
14-Swainson's Thrush
Sep 18
1-Northern Harrier (1st banding record for TTPBRS)
3-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
20-Swainson's Thrush
4-Hermit Thrush
1-Wood Thrush
30-White-throated Sparrow
Sep 19
1-Blue-headed Vireo
4-Slate-coloured Junco
1-Hooded Warbler (2nd record for TTPBRS-1st banding record)
Sep 21
9-Nashville Warbler
1-White-crowned Sparrow
 
Observations
Sep 16
1-Scarlet Tanager
Sep 17
1-Bald Eagle
1-Osprey
20-Yellow-shafted Flicker
65-Myrtle Warbler
45-White-throated Sparrow
3-Purple Finch
Sep 18
8-Sharp-shinned Hawk
3-Least Flycatcher
16-Brown Creeper
10-Winter Wren
5-Golden-crowned Kinglet
Sep 19
10-Semipalmated Sandpiper (1st record for TTPBRS)
25-Yellow-shafted Flicker
11-American Pipit
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
52-Myrtle Warbler
Sep 21
3-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Sep 22
1-Merlin
470-Blue Jay
6-Semipalmated Plover
 
Season Banding Total
05-1434
04-1107
Season Species Total
05-150
04-139
 
 
 

9/18/2005

NORTHERN HARRIER

9/16/2005

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER

Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS-Sept 9-15

Friday, September 9 was our busiest day of the fall to that point as 83 birds were banded. Swainson's Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and White-throated Sparrow were a few of the common species on the day. We also captured an Eastern Phoebe, a single Sharp-shinned Hawk, 3 Northern Parula's and the seasons first Brown Creeper. Other season firsts on the day included Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Pipit and Wood Thrush. Less migrants were apparent on the following morning as 57 birds were banded although decent numbers of thrushes and warblers were still evident. The indisputable highlight of the day was an American White Pelican observed just prior to census. This is the 1st record for the species at TTPBRS. The north winds of the 9th and 10th ended on the 11th as winds were from the south and bird numbers were much lower. The first groups of Blue jays were observed moving through the count area (total of 12). Shorebirds were more in evidence on the 11th as American Golden Plover (1) and Sanderling were (6) recorded. Warm weather from the south persisted through the 14th and was responsible for some early net closure due to excessive heat. Relatively few birds were detected during these hot days but Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush as well as Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireo continued to trickle through the park. Our second Sharp-shinned Hawk of the season was banded on the 13th along with a "late-ish" Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and several Blackpoll Warblers. Migration monitoring is all about highs and lows and the 14th was certainly the latter as just 7 birds were captured and overall diversity was more reminiscent of early August! The season's first Red Knot was detected on the day. The week ended on a high note with the return of north winds on the 15th. A total of 88 birds were banded of 21 species. The day belonged to the Gray-cheeked Thrush as 16 were banded along with 9 Swainson's and 2 Hermit's. Detected Totals (includes banding and surveys) were particularly high for Nashville Warbler (12), Magnolia (24), Myrtle (46) and White-throated Sparrow (51).
 
It is well known that Tommy Thompson Park is a superb site for migratory birds but perhaps less well known for its concentration of Monarch butterflies during their fall migration. On September 15th some 9,000 Monarchs passed through peninsula D in 4 hours during the afternoon. During the heavy rains today I counted ~12,000 roosting in the trees near the tip. These numbers could make Tommy Thompson Park/Leslie Street Spit a site of international significance for this species. The International Network of Monarch Butterfly Reserves currently includes Point Pelee, Long Point and Prince Edward Point in Ontario. For more details on the September 15th Monarch migration and a photo visit the TTPBRS sightings board:
 
 
HIGHLIGHTS
Banding
Sep 9
1-Sharp-shinned Hawk
3-Northern Parula (record one-day total for TTPBRS)
12-Magnolia Warbler
Sep 10
2-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2-Lincoln's Sparrow
Sep 13
1-Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sep 15
16-Gray-cheeked Thrush
8-Nashville Warbler
5-Ovenbird
 
Observations
Sep 9
45-Blackpoll Warbler
5-Slate-coloured Junco
Sep 10
1-American White Pelican (1st record for TTPBRS)
1-White-breasted Nuthatch (1st record for 2005)
Sep 11
1-Long-tailed Duck
1-Winter Wren
2-Blackburnian Warbler
6-Sanderling
1-American Golden Plover
Sep 12
1-Semipalmated Plover
23-Blue Jay
Sep 13
7-Yellow-shafted Flicker
4-American Pipit
1-Cape May Warbler
Sep 14
1-Red Knot
Sep 15
1-Bald Eagle
10-Black-throated Green Warbler
8-Palm Warbler
1-Field Sparrow
51-White-throated Sparrow
 
Season Banding Total
05-1091
04-776
 
Season Species Total
05-144
04-122
 
 
 

9/15/2005

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

Monarch Migration


Both the birds and the Monarch butterflies were on the move today. Monarchs typically peak around mid-September in Ontario although their concentration fluctuate year-to-year. 2004 was a weak year for monarchs at the spit as numbers were clearly down from the previous fall. Today may have been the peak this year as they were everywhere one looked, all moving southwest along the spit. Numbers really picked up after we closed nets around noon today. The butterflies were migrating between 4-25 feet above the ground and I counted 187 pass me by in a 5-minute span. This movement continued for at least 4 hours thereafter. That means that roughly 9,000 passed through peninsula D between 1230pm and 430pm (bear in mind I was counting from inside the forest and could only clearly see butterflies within a 40m radius and therefore the actual number would have been higher). I had a hunch that they would all concentrate in the trees near the lighthouse at the extreme southwest tip of the peninsula before attempting a potentially perilous crossing of Lake Ontario). The cottonwood woodlot just before the lighthouse was alive with thousands of Monarch Butterflies, quite a spectacle! This event was very difficult to photograph but some attempts are posted here.

9/14/2005

RED KNOT

9/09/2005

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
PHILADELPHIA VIREO

Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS-Sept 2-8

The week started off on a good note as respectable numbers of birds were recorded during the first few days. The highlight of the 2nd was the banding of our second ever Connecticut Warbler (the 1st was on September 7-2003). The first Yellow-billed Cuckoo of the fall season was observed on this day. So far not a single cuckoo has been captured in 2005 and total observations are down compared to last year (spring and fall). North winds on the 3rd brought an influx of birds onto the spit as 50 were banded. Red-breasted Nuthatch numbers picked up while flycatcher totals were clearly reduced. Warblers, vireos and thrushes are the most apparent migrants right now and will be for another 2-3 weeks. The primary species captured on the day was Yellow-rumped "Myrtle" Warbler (12) followed by Nashville (8) Common Yellowthroat (5) and Palm Warbler (4). Similar weather on the 4th resulted in another active day as 51 were banded. This day might well have been the final push of empidonax flycatchers as 3 Yellow-bellied, 1 Traill's and 3 Least were banded. The day also featured a sudden influx of Swainson's Thrushes (12 banded). The most memorable event of the day was watching a Merlin hunt dragonflies (successfully) just above the banding lab in the early morning. Winds shifted to south on the 5th which likely reduced numbers of migrants at the research station. Winter Wren and Orange-crowned Warbler were new arrivals and signs of the approaching late fall! Thereafter "ground level" migration was reduced as 26 birds were banded for the 3 day period of September 6-8. Still, there were was some good birding to be had as raptors had begun trickling through and numbers of warblers in the cottonwood canopy remained fairly high (especially Myrtle as 42 were obs. on 6th). We are well ahead of last year in terms of season species total and this is due to many species being earlier than usual. It has also been interesting to note the high proportion of moulting young and especially adult birds. Most adult warblers finish their moults prior to migration because a complete feather replacement is very taxing which would be problematic if added to the stress of migration. I wonder what caused the early exodus from breeding grounds in summer 2005

We will be watching for large numbers of Blue Jays in the next week or so. Fall 2004 featured a sharp decrease in numbers of jays versus fall 2003 (123 banded in 03, 9 banded in 04).

HIGHLIGHTS
Banding
Sep 2
1-Connecticut Warbler (2nd banding record)
style="font-size:85%;">Sep 3
1-House Wren
1-Philadelphia Vireo
4-Palm Warbler
1-Northern Parula
Sep 4
12-Swainson's Thrush
4-Tennessee Warbler
Sep 5
1-Great-crested Flycatcher
Sep 7
1-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Sep 8
1-Gray-cheeked Thrush
Observations
Sep 2
1-Hermit Thrush
1-Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Sep 3
40-Myrtle Warbler
9-Common Yellowthroat
Sep 4
2-Black-bellied Plover
1-Common Nighthawk (4th record for TTPBRS)
Sep 5
1-Blue-winged Warbler
Sep 6
1-Common Loon
5-Blue-winged Teal
2-Red-breasted Merganser
Season Banding Total
05-818
04-682
03-467
Season Species Total
05-128
04-114

9/08/2005

Rained out...

Today was a near total bust as we only managed to squeeze in 12 net hours (out of a possible 90) due to thunderstorms. Despite that we did band 8 birds, the same total as yesterday! Highlight of the day was the arrival of Grey-cheeked Thrush. Hopefully the cold front that just moved in will result in some good diversity and abundance of migrants for tomorrow.
 
 
 

9/07/2005

Northern Parula

9/03/2005

Connecticut Warbler-Sept 2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS-August 26-September 1

It was a slow week for migrants at TTPBRS as indicated by the average daily banding total of 17. Winds were primarily from the south and west which likely kept birds off the peninsula. Numbers of Red-eyed Vireo increased as several were captured daily during the week. This is the time of year at Tommy Thompson Park when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are most abundant. Hummers started hitting the nets on the 21st and have been captured daily since then. We usually capture the last one around mid-September so keep your feeders well stocked! Despite the decreasing water levels, shorebirds have been rather scarce at the park this fall. Single Solitary Sandpipers were observed on the 26th and 27th which was unusual (3rd and 4th records). The research station was closed on the 31st due to rain and high winds. The following day was a busy one at the station as 6 new arrivals were recorded and 57 total birds were banded. There were no dominant species on the day but very good diversity as 27 species were captured and 67 total species recorded. The highest one-day species total for fall 2004 was 66 on September 18. Warblers were strongly represented but the highlights were a single Long-tailed Duck (early) and a single Common Nighthawk. The nighthawk sighting is just the third record for TTPBRS and the first ever for fall monitoring! This species is regular in the city and often seen before dawn flying over the spine road at the spit but they rarely venture over our little corner. 
 
The storyline so far this season has been higher numbers of many warbler species than the previous two fall seasons at the station. The final count of Yellow-rumped "Myrtle" Warblers could be very impressive when all is said and done as their movement has continued unabated since early August! It may have been an exceptional breeding season this year and if so we can expect some good days ahead.....
 
HIGHLIGHTS
Banding
Aug 26
1-Cape May Warbler
Aug 27
1-Blue-winged Warbler (1st fall banding record)
Aug 28
1-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Aug 30
2-Great-crested Flycatcher
Sept 1
3-Swainson's Thrush
1-Hermit Thrush
4-Ovenbird
5-Wilson's Warbler
1-Lincoln's Sparrow
 
Observations
Aug 26
1-Solitary Sandpiper (3rd record)
Aug 27
1-Horned Grebe
1-Semipalmated Plover
23-Chimney Swift
1-Scarlet Tanager
Aug 28
1-White-throated Sparrow
Aug 29
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
14-Warbling Vireo
Aug 30
4-Great Egret
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
5-Bobolink
Sept 1
1-Long-tailed Duck (very early-probably a bird that spent the summer here)
1-Osprey
2-Sharp-shinned Hawk
2-Cooper's Hawk
8-Red-breasted Nuthatch
30-Myrtle Warbler
8-Black-throated Green Warbler
1-Common Nighthawk (3rd record and 1st fall record)
 
Season Banding Total
05-649
04-579
 
Season Species Total
05-118
04-110