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6/05/2008

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Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: May 27-June 2, 2008

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler-macro (Seabrooke Leckie)

This is the penultimate update of the spring 2008 season, an 'oddball' season by TTPBRS standards. Weather for much of the season has been cool with high and persistent winds (usually from all directions except south!). This, and the fact that wintering bird populations are at a low ebb from last summer's lackluster breeding season, are likely strong contributing factors to our slowest spring migration yet for migrant abundance. It is important to acknowledge that periodic shifts in population densities are natural and that these "quiet" seasons are critical to monitor. In other words, the quiet days are no less significant for our studies than the busy ones!

Black-billed Cuckoo appeared in the study area for the first time this year on May 27, an otherwise unremarkable morning with strong northerlies and just 13 birds banded. By this time, the vegetation in the count area was quickly maturing, providing both insects and suitable cover for the late neotropical migrants such as Blackpoll Warbler and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Six flycatcher species were noted on May 28 along with a light movement of Catharus thrushes (e.g. Swainson's, Gray-cheeked), a few vireos and a lone Least Sandpiper. Species composition was much the same on May 29, although more Canada and Wilson's Warblers were evident. Winds switched to south on May 30, which brought a small dose of new migrants to the area. A total of 39 birds were banded, which included 12 Swainson's Thrushes, and small numbers of 9 warbler species. While the water levels have receded substantially in the last couple of weeks, there is still an absence of suitable habitat for shorebirds on peninsula D. Despite this, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin were detected flying west during the morning of May 31. The only Philadelphia Vireo of the season was also noted on this day. High winds from the west returned around midmorning on June 1. At long last, our first Purple Martin of the spring was heard before the wind forced complete net closure. Some of our quietest days of the year occur in June when the weather just isn't cooperating and there is a comparatively low volume of birds remaining to pass through. A total of 14 birds were banded on June 2 with 41 species tallied on the daily census. A Black Tern flew over during the census, the second record of this species for TTPBRS and first since 2004!

The final update for spring 2008 will be posted on June 11 as our last day is scheduled for June 9.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

May 27
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
5-Swainson's Thrush
1-Myrtle Warbler
8-Common Yellowthroat

May 28
1-Least Sandpiper
4-Traill's Flycatcher
2-Northern Rough-winged Swallow
3-Gray-cheeked Thrush

May 29
15-Black-bellied Plover
1-Red-breasted Nuthatch
11-Swainson's Thrush
5-Red-eyed Vireo
7-Blackpoll Warbler
2-Canada Warbler

May 30
7-Gray-cheeked Thrush
12-Swainson's Thrush
2-Chestnut-sided Warbler

May 31
8-Red-breasted Nuthatch
1-Semipalmated Plover
2-Dunlin
3-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
22-Semipalmated Sandpiper
9-Wilson's Warbler
16-Blackpoll Warbler

June 1
1-Purple Martin
1-Tennessee Warbler

June 2
110-Canada Goose
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
8-Traill's Flycatcher
3-Purple Martin
1-Black Tern (2nd record for TTPBRS)

Individuals Banded: April 1-June 2
2008-1858
2007-2584
2006-2359
2005-2432
2004-2443

Species Recorded: April 1-June 2
2008-187
2007-178
2006-175
2005-172
2004-172