Fall Migration at TTPBRS- September 16-22

Baird's Sandpiper (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The seventh week of fall 2007 was dominated by warm temperatures and clear skies, which afforded much opportunity for migrating birds to bypass Toronto on their way south. Small waves of warblers, vireos and thrushes were recorded alongside an increase in numbers of White-throated Sparrows, kinglets and Brown Creepers. The leaves are beginning to turn and with that come the seedeaters and late fall insectivores. Raptors and shorebirds were recorded in low numbers this week, although several rare shorebird species caused much excitement.

A total of 28 birds were banded on September 16, which consisted mainly of Nashville Warblers and Swainson's Thrushes. Singles of Pine Warbler, Whimbrel and Blue-headed Vireo were also observed. Forty-two White-throated Sparrows and 3 Slate-colored Juncos were detected, signifying the shift from summer to fall at TTP. The highlight of the 17th was the first record of Buff-breasted Sandpiper for TTPBRS. Moderate numbers of Blue Jays were observed throughout the week, although daily counts have not exceeded more than a few hundred birds. A full morning of coverage on the 19th indicated very few migrants as just 5 birds were banded on the day. The first Baird's Sandpiper for TTPBRS was spotted amongst a few Least Sandpipers in embayment D. Calm conditions overnight spurred on the migration, which resulted in 6 new species arrivals for the fall and 49 birds banded. Rusty Blackbird, Golden-crowned Kinglet and our third record of Yellow-breasted Chat were amongst the new arrivals. Numbers of Gray-cheeked, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes were up and decent numbers of 16 warbler species were documented. September 21 was much the same as 44 birds were banded on the day. The final day of the update period featured a return to strong south winds, and all was quiet on the bird front. A White-rumped Sandpiper was discovered, which put the final touch on a remarkable week for shorebirds; low numbers but very good diversity.

Reports of record early and abundant southbound Northern Saw-whet Owls are coming in from as far as Temiskaming, and as near as Prince Edward Point, near Kingston. Cooler weather with light northerlies should bring owls to the Toronto area during the next week.

The Winged Migration program got underway on September 24 for fall 2007. Students from grades 5-7 will be at TTPBRS on a daily basis through the end of October.

HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)

Sep 16
1-American Golden-Plover
1-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
3-Eastern Wood-Pewee
5-American Pipit
1-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Blue-headed Vireo
2-Tennessee Warbler
16-Nashville Warbler
16-Black-throated Green Warbler
1-Pine Warbler
32-Blackpoll Warbler
42-White-throated Sparrow
15-Purple Finch
1-Stilt Sandpiper (1st TTPBRS record)

Sep 17
1-Sharp-shinned Hawk
1-Buff-breasted Sandpiper (1st TTPBRS record)
130-Blue Jay
1-Brown Creeper
1-Wood Thrush
1-Blue-headed Vireo

Sep 18
1-Barn Swallow
300-Blue Jay
2-Trumpeter Swan
2-Stilt Sandpiper
2-Pectoral Sandpiper
2-Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Sep 19
1-Baird's Sandpiper (1st TTPBRS record)
26-American Pipit

Sep 20
1-Yellow-billed Cuckoo
1-Eastern Phoebe
4-Gray-cheeked Thrush
2-Hermit Thrush
1-White-breasted Nuthatch
1-Golden-crowned Kinglet
10-Nashville Warbler
22-Magnolia Warbler
24-American Redstart
2-Rusty Blackbird
1-Yellow-breasted Chat (3rd TTPBRS record)
2-Slate-colored Junco

Sep 21
2-Northern Pintail
8-Northern Shoveler
7-American Wigeon
4-White-breasted Nuthatch
1-Winter Wren
9-Swainson's Thrush
1-Northern Parula
1-White-crowned Sparrow
50-White-throated Sparrow

Sep 22
5-Sharp-shinned Hawk
1-White-rumped Sandpiper (1st since 2004)
310-Blue Jay
1-Bald Eagle
7-Red-breasted Merganser

Birds Banded: Aug 5-Sept 22

Species Recorded: Aug 5-Sept 22


Warblers and sparrows

Several flocks of warblers and sparrows in the count area today, brought in with the north winds last night. White-throated Sparrows were abundant today, as were Myrtle Warblers, but a good variety of both groups were present, including the following.

Northern Parula (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Black-throated Green Warbler (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

White-throated Sparrow (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

White-throated Sparrow (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

First-of-season Eastern White-crowned Sparrow (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)


Shorebird firsts

The two shorebirds below are both first records for TTPBRS, and were hanging around off of the East Point of the count area, in the small mudflats of Embayment D. The Stilt Sandpiper was first spotted by Paul Prior on September 16, and was present again today. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was discovered today by Andrew Jano.

Stilt Sandpiper (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Dan Derbyshire/TRCA)

Fall Migration at TTPBRS-September 9-15

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Migrants continue to trickle through the study area at TTPBRS as nights with north winds haven't generated many significant passages of migrants in Toronto this fall. There was no coverage on the 9th due to weather. The cold front boosted numbers of migrants on the 10th as 91 birds were banded. Several fall firsts were logged amongst the 75 species recorded on the day, including Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper and Slate-colored Junco. A few late flycatchers were banded but the morning was dominated by Swainson's Thrushes, Red-eyed Vireos and 19 species of warblers. Red-breasted Nuthatches continue to pour through TTPBRS, reaching a high count of 20 on Sep 10. September 11 was distinctly more quiet with just 18 birds banded. West winds moved in on the 12th, which further stifled overall numbers of songbirds. However, the conditions were ideal for a raptor flight and by the end of the day a respectable 71 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 7 Northern Harriers were totalled. Also recorded were lower numbers of Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle and Cooper's Hawk. Perhaps hummingbirds also like a strong headwind as 5 were captured in the nets that morning. American Pipits arrived from their breeding grounds in the arctic on the 13th, a day that also featured the arrival of their boreal neighbours, the Gray-cheeked Thrush. Moderate southerlies on the 14th made for a quiet morning with 12 birds banded in 6 hours of effort. High winds on the 15th forced early closure of our nets. We did manage to observe large flocks of Blue Jays heading into the west winds and Paul Prior discovered the first Stilt Sandpiper for TTPBRS in the bay. The water levels at Tommy Thompson Park are very low, which has created some great shorebird staging habitat in the embayments.

The birding continues to be excellent at TTPBRS this fall and everything is in place for another amazing October on the Toronto lakeshore!

Update on Members Events
The fall migration of the Monarch through the Great Lakes is coming to an end. We had an incredible passage on August 31. The timing was unfortunate as this was the same day as the bomb detonations at the spit, which made coordinating our event for members impossible. We will watch the skies for late movements of Monarchs and are looking forward to the Fall Bird Hike on September 29 and the Owls Up Close event in late October. Members who are interested in attending these events will need to contact Dan Derbyshire to reserve a space.

HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)

10 Sep
2-American Wigeon
1-Long-tailed Duck
6-Eastern Wood-Pewee
20-Red-breasted Nuthatch
23-Swainson's Thrush
1-Hermit Thrush
5-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Brown Creeper
3-Philadelphia Vireo
30-Red-eyed Vireo
35-Nashville Warbler
3-Northern Parula
55-Magnolia Warbler
5-Black-throated Blue Warbler
24-Common Yellowthroat
16-Wilson's Warbler
22-White-throated Sparrow
5-Slate-coloured Junco

11 Sep
30-Hooded Merganser
2-Philadelphia Vireo
1-Northern Waterthrush
1-Canada Warbler
6-Purple Finch

12 Sep
1-Bald Eagle
7-Northern Harrier
71-Sharp-shinned Hawk
1-Broad-winged Hawk
5-Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
30-Northern Flicker
32-Blackpoll Warbler

13 Sep
1-Common Loon
1-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
2-American Pipit
2-Gray-cheeked Thrush
6-Black-throated Blue Warbler
1-Northern Waterthrush
35-White-throated Sparrow

1-Common Loon
3-Black-bellied Plover
7-Swainson's Thrush

15 Sep
2-Wood Duck
36-Green-winged Teal
1-Lesser Scaup
290-Blue Jay
1-Stilt Sandpiper (1st record for TTPBRS)

Birds Banded: August 5-September 15

Species Recorded: August 5-September 15


Fall Migration at TTPBRS- September 2-8

The White Underwing and the Sweetheart Moth (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The first week of Migration Monitoring in September was a little below average in terms of both numbers of birds and variety of species. Based on our observations of radar, the fall migration has been comparatively very dense through the midwest, which would explain why Thunder Cape Bird Observatory on Lake Superior had an extremely busy August period.

Light winds and cool temperatures on September 2 resulted in a moderate passage of migrants at TTPBRS, as 37 birds were banded, including the first Lincoln's Sparrow of the fall and several Swainson's Thrushes. Most shorebird species have been scarce in recent days, with the exception of several Lesser Yellowlegs that have been present in embayment D for a few weeks now. South winds moved in on the 3rd and slowed things down, as just 9 birds were captured in 6 hours. The following morning was more active with 44 birds of 18 species banded. Blue Jay and a few early Bufflehead were observed. Red-eyed Vireos, Veerys and warblers were the order of the day as is typical for early September. Rain and high winds moved in on the 5th, cancelling banding. A single White-throated Sparrow observed near the station was notable and a reminder that autumn is approaching. Calm conditions on the 6th resulted in another trickle of migrants on the Toronto lakeshore. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were abundant that morning. A single American Golden-Plover was a highlight of the 7th, which was otherwise a quiet affair with just 12 birds banded and 7 recaptured. North winds on the 8th spurred on some Monarch passage and a late morning sprinkling of warblers and vireos.

Thus far, the fall migration in 2007 has been generally quiet with some exceptional migration events (e.g. Monarchs, Purple Martins) and some unusual early movements (e.g. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Purple Finch). The next few weeks will be very interesting as September is the period of peak species diversity with the heaviest passage of insectivores.

TTPBRS was recently featured in the Toronto Star for a story on the relationship of infectious disease, climate change and migratory birds. Click the following link for the story.
Exciting new research has just been published in both Ontario Birds (Ontario Field Ornithologists) and Birding (American Birding Association) on Baltimore Orioles. The genesis of these findings goes back to 2005 at TTPBRS when a strange looking hatch-year oriole was banded at TTPBRS. Click the following link for the article from Birding magazine.
The first ever TTPBRS event for members was held on September 5, 2007. The Mothing at Tommy Thompson Park event was a resounding success and we look forward to future adventures with moths and "the beadle" at Tommy Thompson Park! Click the following for a pictorial account of the evening.
HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)

Sep 2
8-Red-breasted Nuthatch
5-Swainson's Thrush
17-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Philadelphia Vireo
18-Magnolia Warbler
35-Myrtle Warbler
8-Wilson's Warbler
1-Lincoln's Sparrow
1-Pectoral Sandpiper

Sep 3
20-Green-winged Teal
1-Long-tailed Duck
13-Red-breasted Nuthatch

Sep 4
11-Red-breasted Nuthatch
2-Blue Jay
2-Philadelphia Vireo
28-Magnolia Warbler
1-Western Palm Warbler
20-Blackpoll Warbler
3-Purple Finch

Sep 5
1-White-throated Sparrow

Sep 6
8-Ruby-throated Hummingbird
11-Red-breasted Nuthatch
6-Swainson's Thrush
3-Yellow Warbler
1-Scarlet Tanager

Sep 7
36-Blue-winged Teal
1-American Golden-Plover
1-White-throated Sparrow

Sep 8
2-Green Heron
12-Red-breasted Nuthatch
1-Cape May Warbler
8-Black-throated Green Warbler
3-Blackpoll Warbler

Birds Banded: August 5-September 8

Species Observed: August 5-September 8

Mothing at TTP

Ailanthus Webworm, Atteva punctella, whose larvae live in webs in trees of the genus Ailanthus, also known as Tree of Heaven, a common backyard ornamental, and other deciduous trees. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Our first official Members' Event, Mothing At Tommy Thompson Park, took place last Wednesday evening (September 5) at TTPBRS. The event started in the early evening, just prior to sunset, and was guest-hosted by the extremely knowledgable David Beadle. Participants were treated to a guided tour of the station while we waited for
dark to fall and the first moths to begin appearing. Moths were drawn in to white sheets using blacklights and a high-watt mercury vapour lamp, which produce UV rays that mimic the pheromones given off by female moths. Many trees were also slathered with "goop", an aromatic blend of beer, red wine, molasses, brown sugar and overripe bananas, which will attract many of the nectar-feeding moths. Moths were collected in vials and brought back to a central table for identification, and to allow everyone a chance to admire them.

Although initially a little slow, things picked up as the
evening progressed, and by the end of the evening a total of 55 species had been tallied for the night. About 20 people came out to see the moths, and the last participants finally headed home just before midnight. Everyone who came had a great time and saw some neat moths, and we hope to do it again in the future!

Participants listen to our host, David Beadle, as he gives us an intro to moths and mothing. On the table are the first of the night's moths. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

David checks one of the blacklighted sheets for moths. (Ian Sturdee/TTPBRS)

Raspberry Pyrausta, Pyrausta signatalis. Larvae feed primarily on beebalm. (David Beadle)

Greater Black Letter Dart, Xestia dolosa, at a "gooped" tree. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The moth Abagrotis orbis, a sand dune specialist, rare and locally found in Ontario. (David Beadle)


Fall Migration at TTPBRS-Aug 26-Sept 1

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The fall bird migration was boosted by north winds in the final two days of the update period. However, the spotlight belonged to Monarch Butterflies (discussed later in this email). Light northerlies on August 26 resulted in the banding of 31 birds of 15 species. Shorebird numbers were improved on this day as Pectoral Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher were observed on the muddy perimeter of the study area. Increased abundance and diversity of warblers, vireos and thrushes was noted on August 27. The morning included the banding of 2 Cape May Warblers and tallies of 20 Myrtle Warblers, 8 Red-eyed Vireos and 5 Blackburnian Warblers. Red-breasted Nuthatches have been unusually common this fall and have been present at TTPBRS since opening on August 5. These observations of early and abundant RBNUs are in keeping with other stations across Ontario and may indicate seed shortages in the north. The birding subsequently slowed down for a few days, reaching a low of just 5 birds captured in 90 net hours on August 30th. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were common during the period, more often caught than seen as they tend to not linger very long at the site (4 captured on Aug 28). A sharp increase in migrant activity was noted on August 31 when 46 birds were banded and over 440 Monarchs were counted during the morning census. The light northerlies brought in hummingbirds (7), a few raptors and good numbers of warblers (22 species) and vireos (35 Red-eyed Vireo). A visit to the lighthouse later in the day revealed over 20,000 Monarch Butterflies, one of the highest concentrations documented at Tommy Thompson Park! The monarchs roosting in the cottonwoods overnight left during the early morning of September 1. The final day of the update period was the busiest of the season so far as 80 birds were banded, which included 12 Red-eyed Vireos, 6 Veerys, and 12 Nashville Warblers. Singles of Common Nighthawk and Red-bellied Woodpecker were observed.
Monarchs are still coming through and there could be some heavy movements still. We will keep you posted via the TTPBRS website-
HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)
Aug 26
1-Green Heron
1-Peregrine Falcon
2-Short-billed Dowitcher
1-Pectoral Sandpiper
Aug 27
1-Great Crested Flycatcher
6-Red-breasted Nuthatch
8-Red-eyed Vireo
2-Cape May Warbler
20-Myrtle Warbler
5-Blackburnian Warbler
Aug 28
4-Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Aug 30
2-Common Loon
1-Horned Grebe
11-Green-winged Teal
1-Long-tailed Duck
15-Lesser Yellowlegs
Aug 31
1-Red-tailed Hawk
2-Sharp-shinned Hawk
7-Ruby-throated Hummingbird
8-Red-breasted Nuthatch
5-Swainson's Thrush
35-Red-eyed Vireo
10-Tennessee Warbler
1-Northern Parula
19-Magnolia Warbler
21-Blackburnian Warbler
3-Palm Warbler
5-American Redstart
10-Canada Warbler
6-Purple Finch
Sep 1
1-Common Nighthawk
1-Red-bellied Woodpecker (2nd fall record for TTPBRS)
2-Philadelphia Vireo
12-Red-eyed Vireo
3-Tennessee Warbler
12-Nashville Warbler
5-Wilson's Warbler
Birds Banded: August 5-September 1

Species Recorded: August 5-September 1

Monarch migration at TTP

(Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Friday afternoon (August 31) was a spectacular day for Monarch butterflies at Tommy Thompson Park. Notable numbers were moving through the count area during the morning period, which inspired a visit to the Lighthouse area in the afternoon. Several small tree stands were checked between Peninsula B and the lighthouse, and an estimated 17,000-25,000 Monarchs were discovered roosting in numerous sheltered patches within this stretch. The largest congregation numbered an estimated 10,000 individuals, in the leeward side of the tree stand nearest the lighthouse. The butterflies were difficult to detect from the road, but walking into the stand caused them to take flight, creating an impressive swirling cloud of fragile wings. Most of the Monarchs had disappeared by the same time the following day, encouraged to push on south by favourable north winds. Unfortunately, because of the detonations taking place at the spit that day, which required the evacuation of the park, we were unable to schedule our Members' Monarch walk for that day. However, we expect that this was just the first wave of Monarchs to pass through the park, and hope to see similar numbers accumulate again in the next couple of weeks!

(Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)