It’s been quiet on the birding front over the past week.
After returning to Q.U.B.S. the weather was not very cooperative for Whip-poor-will research. We did have one good night, and we were able to catch 2 males, one of which was carrying a Geologger from 2012. The other bird was a recapture from 2011 that was not encountered last year, so that was also a good catch.
After this brief visit, I was back to Haldimand-Norfolk for a few days where I made it to Ruthven for the last day of spring banding. It was such a great start to the season with high April banding totals but that didn’t continue into May. We only banded 9 birds on Friday! I am looking forward to the fall, as it looks like there is the potential for an excellent dogwood/grape crop. If we get enough rain, it could become the year of the Cedar Waxwing/Thrush! Let’s hope.
I headed back up to Q.U.B.S. on Monday for my final, and longest (11 night) stint of Whip-poor-willing. I decided I should try and pick up another few local specialty breeding species before heading up, as things will slowly start to quiet down as the breeding season progresses.
Since I was all packed up for fieldwork, and I had to make a few stops in town, I was not properly dressed for a casual stroll in a mosquito filled forest. Armed with only sunglasses for head protection, and flip-flops on my feet, I made my way down a trail in Backus Woods. For anyone who hasn’t been here, it is amazing. The mature forest is home to many rare, threatened and endangered species. It is one of my favourite tracts of forest in Ontario.
As I headed south I was listening for Acadian Flycatchers. Unfortunately none were singing this morning. There were several (about 6) Hooded Warblers busy singing and defending territories, so that was a nice consolation. I eventually made it back to a large wet area where I immediately heard a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER singing away. After a few minutes I was able to get him into my binoculars and had some great views as he sang away. Number 286 for my Big Year! Satisfied, and without a single bite on my bare feet, I headed back.
I arrived up at Q.U.B.S. in the late afternoon. It was quite windy all afternoon and evening, so we decided not to try mistnetting any Whip-poor-wills. Once it was fully dark we headed out on the trail to try a little nest searching. Well, within minutes of hearing “whip, whip, whip” Erin had spotted a female incubating on a nest. Woo-hoo!
We continued on down a high ridge when I stopped and was looking into the eyes of another female sitting on the ground. YESSSS, nope, darn, she was sitting on a bare rock, which means it was NOT on a nest. After a brief photo-op, I suggested I try catching her with my bare hands. Using my headlamp as a spotlight, I slowly approached the bird, ensuring I kept my hand out of her sight. A few moments later I CAUGHT THE BIRD! It was so exciting. Apparently we don’t always need a net! She was an unbanded second-year bird.
Photos: My very slow motion hand capture of a female Eastern Whip-poor-will. Photo credit: Philina English
As if our night wasn’t exciting enough, Philina found another nest across the road. Two nests and a captured female is an excellent night in the field. Hopefully the next 10 nights will produce similar success!