Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 154
Another week gone by at the Crown Point Banding Station and we survived the big storms that rolled through yesterday afternoon . We pulled the nets, took the canopies off their structures as possible 60 MPH winds were predicted, and these sun shelters are only rated for no more than 15 MPH. We sat in out vehicles as the storms passed mostly to the north and south, but there were a couple that went right overhead and dumped just rain on us. To the north, we heard of quarter-inch hail that accumulated to an inch on the ground.
We had several exciting events during the week up in the sky the blood moon on Sunday night was neat. I had photographed this a couple times before over Limekiln Lake. We had rain showers during the afternoon that day, but I got to see the full moon rise only to have it go under a big black cloud for about an hour during which I napped in a chair outside. When I woke up the moon was just popping out again about one third covered already. I took photos as it gradually covered turning a bright orange and completely covered at about eleven thirty. I went to bed then as more clouds were moving in and covered it again. After the storms yesterday, it was cloudy most of the night, but this morning, 5/17, just before we put the nets up, I photographed the nearly full moon in some neat clouds.
We put up one canopy and then got the mist nets up and started catching birds that had taken shelter from the storm in our woods. We even caught a new bird for the banding station: a Hairy Woodpecker. In fact, we caught three of them, a male and two females. You would think that after having the station running for 47 years, we would have gotten one of these, but not so. They do nest in the woods down by the lake, but had never ventured up into our nets before. So now we have banded all the local woodpeckers except a Pileated Woodpecker. They have been flying and calling around the station, but we haven't had one in the nets yet. They are a handful, as you could imagine, but we do nearly catch and band them every year. Then we put on a few band aids.
Earlier in the week, we had what I think was even a bigger event than catching a new bird for the banding station. We had been catching and banding Blue Jays, American Goldfinch a few White Throated, Savannah, and Lincoln Sparrows not long after the nets were up. We had a few volunteers and a couple early visitors and not long after Master Bander Gordon Howard arrived, he went out checking nets. When he came back, he said to the group we need to have a little chat at the banding table as he held a bird in a holding bag in his hand. We all gathered around, and he carefully pulled this mystery bird out of the bag. This was also a new bird for the site and one that shouldn't have come this far north, but it did, and it was a beautiful Yellow Breasted Chat. For me and him, it's probably one of the rarest birds we would ever catch at this site. There were a lot of comments as the bird was banded, measured, and photographed to the nines. It was only the second Chat that I had ever seen. Then it was released to be on its way. A cell phone leak, just like the one at the Supreme Court, got a birding group that was taking a tour around the area that day on site in minutes. They spent over an hour searching the joining woods where we released the bird, but never saw it.
So far, we have banded over 250 birds of 45 different species. We broke the record for both the Yellow Breasted Chat and Hairy Woodpecker since we had never caught them before, and we broke the Hummingbird record with nine banded and we caught three more that we released out of the nets when our hummer bander Ted Hicks wasn't on site. The Blue Jays are in the lead as most birds of one species banded at nearly one hundred. One bird that normally leads the count, the Yellow Rumped Warbler, has yet to be caught this year. I think they went north early and are on territory already. Some have been seen out on the point, but we haven't caught one. If that holds for the rest of the week, it will certainly be a first.
Only three more days left here at Crown Point, never knowing what we might catch, but that's another story. See ya.