October 29th & 30th – Sitting Out Sandy

The first “butcher bird” (Northern Shrike) of the season.

Now I know that Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to some areas. But here, in this local area, it was much ado about nothing. I was expecting a lot more. Now don’t get me wrong…the weather was lousy. Lots of rain and wind and, during the night, gusting wind. But I lost power only once for about half an hour and today I looked around for fallen trees and big branches but couldn’t find any – even on the census route through the woods. So we got off easy.

And so did the birds. Yesterday, when it was raining so hard, I made sure that the feeders were full. Further, I sprinkled seed all along the gravel road edge next to the banding lab. The birds took full advantage of it yesterday and, when I drove in this morning in the dark, I could see juncos and sparrows in my headlights chowing down on the seed by the road edge.

I actually did get a chance to enter data yesterday and today. But both days there were lulls. And we took advantage of them, opening the nets close to the feeders and setting out well-baited traps. Of course we could keep them open for only about an hour or so but during that time we caught a lot of birds. Pine Siskins continue to show up in large numbers. Our banding total for them so far this Fall has risen to 160! Many of them are carrying big fat loads and I would imagine that they will be heading even further south as soon as the bad weather breaks.

A HY Brown Thrasher was a big surprise.

We caught 3 really interesting birds today: a Brown Thrasher (very late for this bird), a retrap American Goldfinch (that we had banded as a HY bird in 2009 and hadn’t seen again since 2010), and a Northern Shrike. These are very powerful birds with bull-like necks and a bill like a can opener. I was alerted to its presence by the screaming of a Tufted Titmouse in net 2 – the shrike was only about 30 cm away from it. The titmouse was untouched.

The winds this morning were strong and out of the north. Most birds, when they weren’t feeding, were hunkered down seeking shelter. But 3 Common Loons decided to take advantage of this fortuitous situation. They flew over, heading due south, at a terrific speed. If the winds stayed in the north, they could probably make Chesapeake Bay today with ease. But then….they might run into the snow that is hitting West Virginia. There were also a lot of gulls out and about today. Scanning them brought the first Greater Black-backed Gull of the year for Ruthven, flying high over the river.

October 29th; Banded 22:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
10 Pine Siskins
2 American Goldfinches

October 30th; Banded 26:
1 Northern Shrike
1 Brown Thrasher
3 American Tree Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
8 Dark-eyed Juncos
11 Pine Siskins
1 American Goldfinch
ET’s: 32 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 4,615
Year-to-Date Banding Total: 7,200

Photo Gallery:

Wing detail of the shrike – note the contrast between new (black) and young (gray) coverts.

Wing Detail of the Brown Thrasher showing moult limits in the greater secondary coverts.

This Pine Siskin had a peculiar red right eye.

Co-op students Nick (left) and Mackenzie have become a big help.

Parts of the Carolinian Trail have been flooded by a swollen Rick’s Rill.

The river is approaching bank full.

Due to the rains dropped by Hurricane Sandy, the river has risen quickly – the big gravel bar by Slink Island is under water.


2 thoughts on “October 29th & 30th – Sitting Out Sandy

  1. Hey there,

    Glad to see so many interesting records and great pictures on the blog. Have been meaning to get back out there since visiting for my first time this past September.

    What day does the banding wrap up this year, as we were thinking of Sunday November 4th as a day to visit.



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