Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 153

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 153 

Writing this from the Ticonderoga Public Library, as I'm at the Crown Point Banding Station for two weeks of banding birds. We've had nets up for four days and banded several birds, but very few warblers. Only two species of Warbler, Palm and Yellow Warbler. Some Yellow Rumped Warblers have been seen in the area, but we have caught none. Normally we catch more of these than any other bird, but not in the last couple years. Normally it is a competition between them and American Goldfinch. We have caught several Goldfinch, but Blue Jays are ahead on the leaderboard by far and it doesn't look like they will be beaten. Still another week and a half to go. These next few hot, sunny days aren't very good days for catching birds, as they fly right over the banding station heading north without stopping.

I don't know what you've had for weather, but it has frozen three of the four mornings here and then up into the sixties by the end of the day. It looks like for the rest of this week, the afternoon temperatures are going to be even higher, followed by some rain over the weekend. We may have missed the big wave of warblers. While I was picking litter along 28, between the Seventh Lake Boat Launch and Eighth Lake Campsite last week, I heard several of these birds calling on territory already. These birds came north as early as even before the big snowstorm event and survived, I think. The Osprey was on the nest in the setback of Seventh Lake and didn't appreciate me picking litter under her nest. The male Loon that nests in the inlet to Seventh Lake flew up a couple times and Tremeloed in the air, then landed and yodeled after he was back on the water, claiming territory. 

I had Song Sparrows and White Throated Sparrows at my feeders before I went to Florida at the end of March. We are catching new arrivals of both species at the banding station, just today, 5/10. Looking ahead, we may get some species that we may never have caught in the 47 years the station has been running. I was just talking to a man today who came to visit the station and he mentioned Cerulean Warblers that nest on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. I don't know how many years ago it was, but one evening, just before taking the nets down, I caught a mystery warbler and we keyed it out to be a female of that species, the only one ever caught at the station. With the weather patterns the way they have been, any bird is possible. Just a couple days ago, there was a Summer Tanager at a feeder in the suburbs of Burlington, Vermont, which is just across the lake as the crow flies. 

In the four days and nights that we have been here, we have seen or heard over 75 species of birds. The local flowers, trees, shrubs and asparagus are way behind what they have been in the past. Lilacs are just showing their flower buds and they are normally out when we arrive. The lake is up to the high level, but going down daily. The Hawthorne trees that were all over the grounds around the fort for protection are just coming to bud. In many of the leaf buds are little green caterpillars that feed on the leaves, then repel down to the ground on a fine white web. Most of the birds traveling through use the little caterpillars as a food source before they continue on their flight north. The birds that live on site also use these as a source of food for themselves and their young.

The banding site is open for visitors and we had quite a few over the weekend. Some had been to the station many times before Covid, while others were there for the first time. Some got to have birds released in their name, so that banded bird would be theirs. Some folks who came with their children had been here as kids and held a bird and were bringing back their own children to have that same experience. We had one school group from as far away as Bolton, a very good group of children. One girl in the group had done a drawing of a Blue Jay and given it to the master bander, Gordon Howard. It seems they heard, or a little bird told them, that this was his favorite bird.    

This is the third year we are taking tail feather samples for a private study that can determine where this bird winters, just from a couple tail feathers. We have gotten some good information from the feathers we collected the first two years. There is a very good article in the latest Audubon magazine about this study. It is amazing what they can do with just a couple little feathers. 

Be on the lookout for the lunar eclipse coming this week and you should be able to see it even before you go to bed, as long as that is not before nine. 

More from the banding station, but that's another story. See ya. 

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