March 12th – The River’s In Flood

The large amount of rain we’ve been getting has finally worked its way through the smaller watercourses, swelling the Grand River. All along its path, the low-lying areas have been inundated. In fact, Ruthven’s River Trail is just that – a river. I was watching the dramatic footage of the tsunami that inundated Sendai, Japan yesterday pushing all manner of debris in front of it – cars, house, boats, you name it. It must have seemed like that to all the little creatures that made the river flats their home. But rather than having helicopters hovering overhead to take them to safety, they had a Red-tailed Hawk and a Norther Harrier looking to take advantage of their loss of cover. Even so, a Song Sparrow sang bravely from the top of a dogwood right in the centre of the flood, thumbing his nose, as it were, at the avian threat.

There was a bit of a wind and I wasn’t all that interested in banding a bunch of birds; more than anything I wanted to do a census and get a sense of the number of species that were around. So I only opened one net (#1A) and put out 2 ground traps. After 3 hours I had caught only 10 birds and all of these had been banded before. The areas around the feeders were pretty quiet, unlike those days with frosty temperatures and snow cover. I think when the snow melts the birds that would be taking advantage of the feeders spread out across the landscape to diversify their diet. (Also, a concentrated food source, like a feeder, has the disadvantage of attracting predators.)

Over the morning I encountered 33 species. My favourite was the 2 small flocks of Tundra Swans that went over. These have been on the move for a week to 10 days now and a number of people have reported seeing them but so far they had eluded me. I love thier call which I find quite haunting. I also saw a large flock of Northern Pintails.

Retrapped 10:
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Black-capped Chickadees
5 American Tree Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco


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