April 11th – Return To The Lonely Mountain

Purple Honeycreeper - one of my favourites. (Note the black toenails.)

Purple Honeycreeper – one of my favourites. (Note the black toenails.)


What a lousy day! Cold NE winds just seemed to go right through you and a driving rain (sometimes mixed with sleet) creating huge puddles, filled the creeks, and pushed to Grand River toward flood (the small park in York was already inundated). A dangerous day too for the migrants that have made it this far….especially the insect eaters. (I’m worried about “our” recently-returned Purple Martins and Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds!)
Rufous-tailed Jacamar - very reminiscent of the White-throated Bee-eater I saw in Kenya.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar – very reminiscent of the White-throated Bee-eater I saw in Kenya.


I opened some traps and ran them for a while. We banded 8 and retrapped 21 but it was a half-hearted effort and after a couple of hours I overturned them so that the birds coud have unfettered access to the much-needed food. I gave some thought to doing a census but really didn’t want to get drenched…I must be getting old….or wise (take your pick).
A brilliant (but dead - victim of a window collision) Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird.

A brilliant (but dead – victim of a window collision) Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird.


So to warm me up, and maybe you, I decided to put up pictures of some of the birds I saw in Trinidad and Tobago which my wife and I visited a week or so ago. And as I sat here going through them, figuring out which ones to post, I went back to some of the thoughts I had on the return flight. There I was 38,000 feet above the Atlantic, deep blue far below me, freckled here and there with white clouds. The route went from Port of Spain (capital of Trinidad) well offshore until north of the Bahamas at which point we headed northwest hitting the coast of the U.S. just north of Cape Hatteras. That part of the route took just 3 hours. But you know, that’s almost the exact route that Blackpoll Warblers take, in reverse, in the Fall when they head south to winter in northern South America. The only difference is that they probably start farther north, in the New England states. What a journey – 80+ hours of straight flying! And once they start there’s no place to put down,it’s all blue water – it’s go or drown. I wonder what percentage actually make it…..
Southern Lapwing.

Southern Lapwing.


Male Yellow Oriole.

Male Yellow Oriole.


Male Barred Antshrike in the dense foliage.

Male Barred Antshrike in the dense foliage.


The in-flight movie was The Hobbit which I caught pieces of in my reverie. (Isn’t it amazing that 13 individuals can fend off a kazillion powerful orcs in hand-to-hand combat!?) My understanding is that the rendering of this Tolkien classic will be done in 3 parts. This part ended with the birds, specifically a thrush, returning to The Lonely Mountain, which, as all Tolkien buffs know, is in the north. And I thought what a fitting, sort of ironic, twist this was at this particular time. Down below there were millions of thrushes (Swainson’s, Gray-cheeked, Veeries) doing just that – heading north. Funny how the mind works, eh? (I just hope they don’t awaken the evil dragon Smaug!)
Male Crested Oropendola.
Black Vulture warming up in the early morning sun at the ocean edge.

Black Vulture warming up in the early morning sun at the ocean edge.


Male (left) and female White-necked Jacobins at a feeder.

Male (left) and female White-necked Jacobins at a feeder.


Ruddy Turnstone fattening up for the long return flight to its Arctic breeding ground.

Ruddy Turnstone fattening up for the long return flight to its Arctic breeding ground.


Banded 8:
1 Mourning Dove
2 American Tree Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch

Rick

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