April 7th – Panning For Gold

Moonset at the edge of day.

Day after day, bent over the rushing stream, the old prospector dips his pan into the gravel of the streambed. He brings it out, swirls the water/gravel mixture around before pouring off the water, and tentativley pokes through the leavings, hoping against hope for a glimmer of gold…..And so it has been at Ruthven for the last few days.

All day we dipped into the stream of this migration, hoping against hope to pull out a nugget. Mostly we got fool’s gold – goldfinches, mostly previously banded ones. In this context, gravel….that we could just as well have poured back. But, today, we got some nuggets as well!!! Three, in fact:

A rare (at Ruthven but not in the area) Northern Mockingbird.

The first was the catching and banding of a Northern Mockingbird. Now these birds are sighted regularly in the surrounding area but are rarely seen at Ruthven, let alone caught. A couple of days ago, Dorothy reported seeing two of them flying across the river. I’ve learned to give full credence to Dorothy’s sightings and, so, wasn’t overly surprised (but highly pleased), to find this one in net #9.

Joseph with the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the year. - K. Daynes

The second nugget was the first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the year, a handsome male, caught in net #6. This in itself was interesting as the net 5-6-6A-7 ‘complex’ has not been catching much and won’t until the shrubs all leaf out. This was another real pleasant surprise.

The third was a NEW bird sighting for Ruthven: a Common Raven went over, croaking away distinctively. This is just another record of this bird’s remarkable movement into southern Ontario.

Banded 16:
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Song Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
7 American Goldfinches

A nice male White-breasted Nuthatch. - K. Daynes

Retrapped 35:
1 Mourning Dove
4 Black-capped Chickadees
1 American Robins
3 American Tree Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
18 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 35spp.

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