Thursday, 11 October 2018

sound of champagne dripping BY Nick Alioto

Boreal owl



The Sound of Champagne Dripping
Hello again Marsh followers and enthusiasts! It feels great to once again be writing a blog to inform you all of what has been going on at the Marsh through the end of September and so far into October. I hope that all who are reading this did not assume we went on some sort of hiatus from writing blogs but instead wanted to hit you with a bunch of highlights at once because who doesn’t love highlights.
As September rolled on we continued to see a great diversity of migrants moving through the marsh as they continue on their journey south to various wintering grounds……and yes Pine siskins continued to come through in great number and are continuing to do so daily which is great! Every day that passes we smash the previous record for siskins so quite literally every day at the marsh is record setting! How many stations get to say that everyday for onwards of three weeks? Not many I can assure you. Anyway, as much as I love siskins let me hit you with some September totals. Through the month of September an amazing 2,347 birds of 71 species were banded. At the bottom of this post I have included a Top 10 species banded so go ahead and scroll down to take a little peek! it’s cool stuff. Also, for those of you who are saying why isn’t he mentioning the siskin total?? Well I will save that for the end so you will just have to keep reading.


Nick with his first boreal owl

Now I would like to turn my attention to the banding that goes on late at night and early into the morning here at the marsh. As many of you know and maybe some may not know that mid-September and October are the peak time in which owls that breed up in the boreal forest begin their migration down south to various states to over winter. The interesting thing about the marsh is that it is the perfect spot to catch 3 species of owl. The Northern-saw whet owl (Aegolius acadicus), Long-eared owl (Asio otus) and of course the infamous Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus).



One of reasons I was so eager to come to the marsh was in the hopes to see the elusive Boreal owl. All of last year I was banding owls in Northern Michigan but knew that our banding sites were still too far south and that it would be highly unlikely that we would catch a boreal and……. alas we did not. However, this fall I have been overjoyed with catching a lot of saw-whets and even the occassioanl long-eared. Yet I still had this excitement inside that was just waiting to explode if we were to catch a Boreal. As September carried on, night after night I trecked out to our Boreal net array and kept thinking of a book I had read earlier in the month titled “A Sound Like Water Dripping” which was a novel written by Soren Bondrup-Nielesen who is a biologist that studied boreal owls in Ontario back in the 1970’s. Throughout the book he describes walking through the boreal in search of these owls and I couldn’t help but to relate to exactly what he was seeing and feeling the same way he did. Now the book gets its title because some think the boreal call sounds like that of water dripping I will leave for you to decide! Anyway, Nielesen spent a lot of nights with no confirmed boreal and he even started to think he may never confirm a sighting of a breeding pair in northern Ontario and I too had assumed that maybe I had put some jynx on the marsh that because I wanted to see one so bad that perhaps one would not show. Nevertheless, like a logical person I assumed that a sacrifice must be made to summon this bird and the deal I made with Murph (our boss) was that if were to catch a Boreal in the coming week I would shave off my luscious beard which has been growing for onwards of 3 months a true work of art not to mention I have not had a clean shaven face since the 12th grade!


Hilliardtons most wanted  .......boreal owl bander

Then it happened on October 6th we caught one! I was overjoyed and wanted to celebrate with the whole crew and what better way to celebrate then with a bottle of champagne and all I could think of at that time was “the sound of champagne dripping” has a better ring to it I reckon! It was after this that I shaved my beard off and stayed true to my word. As I sit here and write this I feel like a 14 year-old boy with my naked face. But after this we caught another Boreal owl and on the same day we caught 4 Boreal chickadees!
the ever elusive boreal chickadee in french it is mesange a tete brun
"brown headed chickadee
"

 I never knew my beard had such magic trapped in it. I am still beyond excited that we have caught a Boreal all these days after and hope there are more to come! Just like Nielesen I too hope to study Boreal owls here in Northern Ontario at the Marsh, as there is still so much to be learned about these secretive birds. No I didn’t forget as promised earlier our siskin total stands at drummmmm rolllllll pleasssee…………..1261WOW WHOA OHHH AHHHH!! With many more to come!!Until next time keep your champagne cold, nyjer seeders full and stay classy!
Fall 2018 Owl Totals:
Northern Saw-whet owl – 327
Long-eared owl – 3
Boreal owl – 2
Total 332 owls this fall

Top 10 Species Banded September 2018:
Pine Siskin
812
Northern Saw-whet owl
216
White-throated Sparrow
141
Common Yellowthroat
131
Nashville Warbler
124
Swamp Sparrow
109
Western Palm Warbler
72
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
51
Myrtle Warbler
51
American Redstart
42





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