Sunday 28 June 2015

Long Point, Canada - 3 to 10 June 2015

3 June

It really seems as though the main migration has now passed. Catching this morning was very slow. With a few birds of the same species in hand, comparisons between individuals were really useful.

 Female and male Cedar Waxwings

 Mourning Dove 

This afternoon we did a nest check at the Tree Swallow grid. From the 60 or so boxes there were seven with nestlings. The boxes willbe monitored and as chicks hatch, efforts made to ring or record ring number of both adults.

 Nest boxes have been lettered and numbered for reference. The baffle is needed to deter predators.

Eastern Fox Snake 

This Eastern Fox Snake is over a metre long and one of the predators of Tree Swallow nests. The species is uncommon within its range of Onterio, Ohio and Michigan where it only occurs near Lake Erie and Huron. It is a species of Rat Snake but is killed by many people who mistake it for the venomous Massasauga Rattlesnake.

 The male typically guards the box and communicates approaching dangers to the brooding female.

Young are usually ringed at around 12 days old. In view of the heavy rain that we had been experiencing, poor weather conditions will also be considered when deciding if monitoring visits should be made, or left to allow birds to get on with rearing their chicks.

 After days where the resident Tree Swallows tried to dissuade the Purple Martins,
one pair now appears to be in permanent residence by the ringing lab.

Totals: 19 (0)

Mourning Dove - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 1
Tree Swallow - 2
Norhern Rough-winged Swallow - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
America Robin - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 4
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
Eastern Bluebird - 1

4 June

As the water pump to the house has still not been repaired, partly due to inclement lake conditions on the day the fixer guys were due to boat out, the calm conditions and low level of the water tower made it really important that the water tank be filled today.

Clear sky and full moon across the marsh

Indigo Bunting

 Male SY Common Yellowthroat
CHL and DEN did most of the ringing rounds and had 26 of 17 species by 11.10am. After a mammoth effort involving the reserve water pump (that had sprung a leak, waders, leaking pipes and all 3 men) the tank was eventually filled.

We were surprised to find a drone quartering the tip area today. It turned out to be part of a project by the interior ministry to film sandbars. The filming team had come over from Turkey Point on a day visit.

The afternoon was spent trying to catch adults in the Tree Swallow boxes. Males are particularly difficult and seem much more retiscent to enter boxes than the females. We ended up knowing 3 pairs of the 7 boxes with nestlings. More eggs should hatch soon so there is still plenty of work to be done on the Swallow grid.

Totals: 26 (0)

Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 2
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 2
Least Flycatcher - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 2
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4
Northern Cardinal - 1
Indigo Bunting - 2
Song Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2

5 June

It was a very calm start to the day with Erie as flat as a mill pond. Captures totalled 38 birds today. There were a few flycatchers and more warblers about, perhaps a late rush held up by the earlier bad weather. Highlights were a Mourning Warbler and two Blackburnian Warblers.

 Sunrise across Lake Erie

Mourning Warbler female

Blackburnian Warbler male

We spent the afternoon walking the paths and took a few photographs.

This Killdeer had a nest close to the path but no-one was able to locate the nest, or any young. 

 Wild Iris

Indian Paintbrush

 Northern Map Turtle

Red Saddlebags Dragonfly

Totals: 38 (2 )

Eastern Wood-Pewee -2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher -2
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 2
Barn Swallow - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Brown Thrasher - 3
Cedar Waxwing - 3
Yellow Warbler - 5
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Blackburnian - 2
Blackpoll Warbler -6
American Redstart - 1
Mourning Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (1)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 1 (1)

6 June

Again, it was too windy to ring today so we spent the morning on the Swallow Grid trying to catch adults that had so far eluded the efforts of MRI, CHL and DEN. 

 Male Tree Swallow

From our monitoring we know of at least one box that appears to have an additional female helper attending the chicks, and another where the female is going it alone. We caught 5 of the outstanding males and ringed four more birds.

There seem to be few birds around apart from a lot of Waxwings feeding around the Swallow grid.
We have been warned to be ready to leave tomorrow after census.

7 June

Our last day at the tip and we have heard that Stu and Mark would be bringing a new cooker as well as two other people to continue ringing until the 10th, the last ringing date. We operated the lab and made the tip and garden rounds for the last time. 

Yellow Warbler

 Ringing lab

We turned out the bird bags and tidied the room for the last time.

Totals: 13 ( 3) 

Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 2
Eastern Kingbird - 0 (1)
Brown Thrasher - 0 (1)
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Yellow Warbler - 2 (1)
Blackpoll Warbler - 3
Mourning Warbler - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
Starling - 1 
Red-winged Blackbird - 1

The following photoes show the array of various traps available for catching without mist nets.

The large net on the right now has a rather splendid repair courtesy of DEN.

They also have the daddy of all mallets!

Rings rack
We were relieved to have completed our time without mishap with the rings. They could so easily fall from the wire loops if knocked from the rack or during transfer from the thin wire on which they are received.
The boat arrived in the late morning.

 Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird continued to sing close to the ringing lab and DEN made one final discovery - Common Nighthawk.

Common Nighthawk

ATV trailer withthe old cooker

For a while the tip seemed very crowded. Our team of four, the four from the boat AND two men fixing the water pumps. The cookers were switched over and the new one connected up. I couldn't help thinking that I might have got on better with the newer model. I hated that cooker, and now it was coming back to Old Cut with us. Evenually it was time to leave.

As we waited in the boat for departure, we realised how much the beach had been reduced by the storms while we had been there. One of the notice boards was now much closer to the lake with the concrete base completely exposed.

As the sand shifts, vegetation is continuously undermined on the North and South beaches.

The tip had changed considerably during our stay.

 On 22nd May the tip was not raised very much above the lake level. It was
quite long and could be seen  snaking around to the left just under water level.

  By the 1st of June it was more raised and much, much shorter.


The lighthouse, block house and ringers' cabin are a few metres from the North shore. The Lighthouse is on a stout concrete base but at some time all buildings will circum to the storms. There may be seven or so years left for the ringer's house at the tip.

Calmer conditions meant no need for survival suits on the return to Old Cut.

Almost there...............

Canada geese and goslings were nature intended.

8 June

Migration is pretty much over at Old Cut so it was planned that RC and CHL would operate the ringing site while DOT and DEN monitored Tree Swallow boxes.  Rain was forecast and forced the abandonment of both activities. Only one male swallow was caught in the short time available and nets were closed well before we returned to Old Cut.

Totals: 9 ( 7 )

Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 0 (1)
Black-cappedChickadee - 1 (1)
American Robin - 2 (1)
Gray Catbird - 1 (1)
Yellow Warbler - 1 (2)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 3
Baltimore Oriole - 0 (1)

9 June

There was no ringing on this date. The weather was too bad. DOT teamed up with RC to do TRES boxes in the afternoon. We got a lift (many thanks to Whip-poor-will Paul) to Simcoe to collect the rental car then went to have a look around some sites near Port Rowan, the sewage lagoon and the grounds of Bird Studies Canada. Two new species for the were Pied Billed Grebe and Moorhen.

10 June

The last day of the spring ringing season had arrived. RC, CHL and DEN operated the station but the birds were few and far between. There was a school party due at 10am but we really weren't sure they would have many birds to see.
When Jodie arrived with the party there had been no birds for 90 minutes. Thunder rumbling over head so they had their tour around the nets, returning with a retrapped Brown-headed Cowbird and Gray Catbird. Jodie began the demonstration while we started to close ahead of the rain.

The last school visit of spring 2015

The last two birds extracted were a Traill's Flycatcher and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. This made Jodie's day as the last one he ringed was in 1998.

In the afternoon we took the car for a run to Backus Woods in hopes of seeing Cerulean Warbler. The mosquitoes were terrible and we heard birds long before we got a couple of  rather poor views.

 Dense vegetation made viewing difficult.

The mosquitoes were relentless. Repellent is simply not enough.

We spent our last evening having diner at the Boat House, Port Rowan then packed up ready to leave the next morning.

Totals: 7 (2)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 1
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Yellow Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Brown-headed Cowbird - 0 (1)
House Sparrow - 1

Long Point, Canada 27 May to 2 June 2015

27 May

Another windy start with it impossible to fully open the garden nets until after 7am and only 4 nets workable at the tip, resulting in only 78 new birds. The highlights included observations of more Cedar Waxwings heading off the tip, Eastern Meadowlark and 4 Eastern Bluebirds near the ringing lab. In the ringing lab there was another Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, a Marsh Wren and a male Indigo Bunting.

Marsh Wren

Wilson's Warbler

 Indigo Bunting

Lincoln's Sparrow

We also continued to collect feather samples for a study on Mercury levels in American Redstart, Swainson's Thrush, Magnolia Warbler and Blackpoll Warblers.

Samples for Mercury levels study

We completed the shorebird census on the North shore but there was not much in the way of shorebirds to report.

 Coyote tracks along the shoreline

Later, we tried our luck at gull and tern catching.

Chris goes to set a selection of ground traps to target gulls and terns.

 Denise tries to avoid sun stroke in the fierce heat.

A storm swept in and the weather changed fast. This probably contributed to the capture of two Bonaparte's gulls as visibility dropped considerably as sand was swept low across the tip.

The storm rumbles closer

 SY Bonaparte's Gulls

Stunning sunset after the storm

Totals: 78 (0)

Bonaparte's Gull - 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 3
Acadian Flycatcher - 1
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher - 22 
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 11
Least Flycatcher -4
Eastern Kingbird - 1
Tree Swallow - 1
Blue Jay-1
Marsh Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush -2
Gray Catbird - 4
Red-eyed Vireo - 3
Yellow Warbler -5
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 5
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Wilson's Warbler -1
Indigo Bunting - 2
Chipping Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 1

28 May

Today the morning totals reached 102. EP went on to Breakwater and DOT returned to Old Cut. We continued netting into the afternoon. There were new species for both of us.

 Canada Warbler

 Black-throated Green Waber

 Field Sparrow

 Philidephia Vireo

 Acadian Flycatcher

 Baltimore Oriole

 Red-bellied Woodpecker

 Two SY Black and White Warblers 

 Hooded Warbler

Matt arrived back with Matteo at 5pm and the team at the tip was now down to four people.

In the evening we had the usual evening visit from a raccoon that, as normal, tried to get a meal from the bird feeders. It is amazing that the animal has enough strength to haul a full, wooden feeder up and off the hook before dropping it to spill the seed.


Totals: 115 (4)

Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Black-billed Cuckoo - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee -2
Acadian Flycatcher - 1
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher - 9 
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 23
Blue Jay-1
Swainson's Thrush -3
Gray Catbird - 2
Brown Thrasher - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 2
Philidelphia Vireo - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 10 (1)
Yellow Warbler -13
Hooded Warbler - 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler -4
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 4 (1)
Black and White Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 4
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (1)
Wilson's Warbler -4
Canada Warbler - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
Field Sparrow -2
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 7
Common Grackle - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 2 (1)
American Goldfinch -2

29 May

There are just four of us now so busy days will be hard work. Daily census still needs to be done leaving scribing, extracting and ringing down to three at what can be a busy time a few hours after nets are first opened.

The Cedar Waxwings continue to pass through and more are stopping to feed in the tall trees around the house. The morning total reached 62 new and rose to 70 from non-standard captures after 11.20am in the garden nets.

 Cedar Waxwing

 Red-winged Blackbird

 Great-crested Flycatcher

 Mourning Warbler

Common Grackle (photo of bird ringed 21/05)

Grackles sometimes feed in Poison Ivy and scratches sustained while handling these birds can result in long-lasting, itchy and irritated rashes known as Grackle pox. We were both glad to have managed to avoid it.

Totals: 70 (4)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 2
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 3
Least Flycatcher - 1
Great Crested Flycatcher - 1
Tree Swallow - 1
Rough-winged Swallow - 2
Barn Swallow - 2
Blue Jay-1
American Robin -2
Gray Catbird -4
Brown Thrasher - 1
Cedar Waxwing -8
Warbling Vireo - 2
Red-eyed Vireo - 2
Yellow Warbler -7
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Black-throated Green Warbler -2
Blackpoll Warbler - 7 (1)
American Redstart -3
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 3 (1)
Mourning Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Wilson's Warbler -2
Northern Cardinal - 1
Chipping Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2 (1)
Common Grackle - 1
Brown-headed Cowbird - 0 (1)
American Goldfinch - 4

30th May

It was much too windy to open nets today. Instead we went for a walk and got some more observations for ETs. Chris saw a Muskrat in the marsh area.

We had another try at the Tip but got just one Bonaparte's Gull for 3 hours watching and waiting. A Bobolink was on the freshly mown lawn (courtesy of Chris) and when the wind reduced in the late afternoon it was caught in one of the two dropped nets. A few more birds were also caught but we were still short of 7000 for the site, which was not looking like we would achieve with a storm with severe rain and thunder was expected the following day.

SY Male Bobolink

Totals: 12 (1)

Bonaparte's Gull - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 1
Blue Jay-1
American Robin -1
Yellow Warbler -2
Blackpoll Warbler - 5
Northern Cardinal - 0 (1)

31 May
A full blown storm today. Wind, waves and rain with no chance of netting all day. By lunchtime DEN had made a batch of peanut cookies, a jam sponge and prepared vegetable curry.

 Rain, wind and waves to batter the beaches

 Tree and Barn Swallow neighbours.

1 June

A very slow day. It was only possible to open a few nets so not many birds were caught in the morning.

Eastern Woodpewee

 Blue-gray Gnat catcher - extractions are recorded but birds are not ringed


There had been an influx of waders after the bad weather so we had another go at the tip, that we found to have been shortened considerably by the rough weather.

 Double-crested Cormorants, gulls and terns rest out the rough weather.

Sleeping Raccoon on the south shore.

It was Matteo's last night at the tip and we had a fire and dinner on the beach.

Totals: 16 (1)

Sanderling - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 1
Brown Thrasher - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Yellow Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
American Goldfinch - 3
House Sparrow - 1

2 June

Another slow day. Nets open after main banding hours did little to boost the total that could not be pushed beyond 25. Highlight of the day was undoubtedly a Northern Parula in the morning.

Northern Parula

After banding DEN took a walk along he south shore to see the Bank Swallow nestholes, and Matteo left for Old Cut and Richrd C came to keep the team at four.

 South shore

 A few posts and some wire mesh are all that remains of an old heligoland trap.
Testiment to the shifting sands at the tip.

Bank Swallow nest holes

Attempts to catch a Bobolink in the garden were unsuccessful, however a female Eastern Bluebird was caught.

Eastern Bluebird

 Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker

Total: 25 (2)
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Alder/Willow Flycatcher - 4
Least Flycatcher - 1
American Robin - 2
Gray Catbird - 5
Cedar Waxwing - 3
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Yellow Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 0 (1)
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 0 (1)
Northern Parula - 1
Song Sparrow - 1
American Goldfinch - 3
Eastern Bluebird - 1