September 21st – First Day Of Fall(?)

A striking male Canada Warbler.

Ironically, last night I finished re-reading Fred Bodsworth’s fine book The Last of the Curlews, a story about the demise of the Eskimo Curlew. I like to go over it every couple of years because it’s a fine piece of writing and it causes me to ponder the human impact on birds of short-sighted human actions. I say “ironic” because today I read about the demise of two birds that are closely related to the Eskimo Curlew – Whimbrels. There is a research program at the College of William and Mary which is studying the migration of these birds by attaching very light-weight satellite transmitters to their backs and following their movements. One bird they studied flew 5,000 km non-stop from the Delmarva Peninsula to the Mackenzie River Delta in 146 hours (at an average speed of just over 34 km/hour). The two birds that I referred to were shot on or around September 12th on Guadeloupe Island in the Lesser Antilles. The people studying these birds figured that they had put down there after the rigours of avoiding Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Maria. Normally (as confirmed by the tracking devices) these birds would have flown non-stop to Suriname. But here’s the real irony. In his epilogue to the Counterpoint edition of the book, Bodsworth notes that one of the very last Eskimo Curlews ever seen was shot by a hunter in September 1963 on Barbados, just a short flight away. When are we going to learn!?
[If you’re interested in this story check out: ]

Liz extracting - it's like riding a bike: you can be a little rusty but you don't forget. -R. Bauer

Liz "processing" the bird she extracted. - R. Bauer

We didn’t have anything as dramatic as an Eskimo Curlew at Ruthven today…..we didn’t even have a Whimbrel. But we did get a few nice warblers (and Liz found the first White-throated Sparrow of the season). The nice thing about the slower pace is the opportunity it affords us to teach people that want to learn about birds and banding. So today was Eric Bauer’s and Liz Vanderwoude’s day. Both have been out many times before and are developing pretty good skills but….it’s just like anything else: it takes practice, practice, practice. We also had a very keen class of Grade 7’s from Rehoboth School in Copetown come out to learn.

Rick going over the "fine points" with Eric. - R. Bauer

Liz scribes while Eric bands. - R. Bauer

Although it was the first official day of the Autumn, it sure didn’t feel like it. By mid-morning I was wishing that I had brought my shorts as the heat and humidity were making things uncomfortable.

First day of Autumn and we're still catching Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. - R. Bauer

Banded 25:
1 Mouring Dove
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Gray Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
2 Red-eyed Vireos
3 Nashville Warblers
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
5 Blackpoll Warblers
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Canada Warbler
2 Song Sparrows
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 9:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 House Wrens
1 Gray Catbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Field Sparrow
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 45 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 20


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