Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not Done Yet!

Although the weather may be trying to tell us differantly............................we are not done yet!

 The past week has had us almost stopped in our tracks with the Remnants of Hurricane Sandy making life miserable for alot of Creatures, including us Banders. I have not been out for Owls since the  27th and managed  to Band 9 new Owls , one of which was the 200th newly Banded Owl for the season.
200th Owl Banded 2012
 Although we had caught the 200th Owl of the season a few days earlier, this one is alittle more special.
200th Owl Caught 2012
 We are currently at 205 New Saw-whets and 2 Foreign Retraps. The first Retrap was as reported in an earlier Blog banded originally in 2011 at Thunder Cape. The most recent Retrap was previously banded in Monroe County Michegan. Ironically it was netted just 3 nights after one of mine was Retrapped by them. That Owl was banded on the 27 of September  2012 and had flown nearly 500 miles in a month(as the Crow flies).

A Michegan Visitor

 We also Retrapped a Eastern Screech Owl, that was originally banded on my Big Night last Season on Oct22 2011. Ironically It was on the 22 of Oct this year. That may be a little Karma !

22 Oct 2011-22Oct 2012
 Hawk Banding is almost non existant due to weather on Days where I have been available or just  No Flight experienced when I have been out. I have only managed 1 more Red-tail .

Second Year Red-tail

 We will endeavour to keep the Owl Nets ready until November 11th, as in past years and the Hawk Nets will kept ready until the end of the month.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Records will Fall!

Well as the Title says..........................

  Records have Fallen at the Innsfree Raptor Station  this past week! Although the weather has been far from Perfect.

 Since my last posting ,I have only been out a couple of times and Nigel got out for 1 night. In those 3 nights an additional 23 NSWO's were Banded (9 on the 4th,5 on the 8th and another 9 on the 9th). So there we stood at 104 on the season.

The 10th I was at work, as was the 11th , but that didn't matter much as it was Raining alot.

 On the 12th I was watching the weather all day and thinking it is going to be a good Owl night, but I was scheduled for work!  I was on the edge as to go to work or Book Off and try for Owls. Then I got a text from my friend Andrea " Are you going Banding Tonight?" . That was the catalyst and I decided to go Banding and Booked Off from work. I didn't notify anyone else as it was such short notice and I had to eat and go set up the Nets. I wasn't going to miss a minute of what I Hoped would be good!

Andrea, with a Nice Pair!
 Well  Andrea showed up just as I was going out for the 1st Netcheck and we caught 2. The next check we Netted 6 and I said to Andrea "this is going to be a Great Night" !

The next check was an amazing 12  Saw-whets and more calling all around. I contemplating shutting down until I processed this bunch of Owls, but then said I will be fine they are mostly Hatch-years .  I ran out of Bags and had to use my Pockets!

 A net check of 12 Saw-whets
 As we were Banding this Bunch,  Andreas friend Kathy and her daughter Elizabeth from Ottawa arrived. In less than an hour we once again went to check the nets and Caught another 11 and watched as one got out of the Netting. They were visually seen sitting in the Shrubbery at the Nets. I had to shut the Lure off and process these Birds.

 It was to say the Least " Unfreaking Beleavable"! Never before had seen so many Owls in one night and we were not done yet! After Banding  that group I set the Call on again and found 3 more Owls in the nets.
 Andrea and her Friend had to leave at this time , but I stayed and caught an additional 3 Owls,bringing my Nights total to 37 NSWO's and the Season total to 141.

 As I said " Records will Fall" and they did that night:

 Previous best Netcheck record was 11 Owls ( 10 New and 1 Foreign Retrap)

1 of 37 on the Night ! I guess it Wanted a Portrait
 New best Netcheck record is now 12  Owls  ( all New)

 Previous One Night record was 23 Owls ( set on Oct. 01 2012)

 New One Night record  is now 37Owls

 Previous One Year record was 115 Owls ( set in  2007)

 New One Year record is now 142 Owls (and climbing)

  Also since the last Blog The Hawk Banding is still miserable with only 6  Hawks Banded. Highlight was nothing less than a Hatch Year -Female Peregrine Falcon (Tundrius Race) . It is only the 2nd Peregrine I have ever Banded, but the 4th for the Station.
Female HY Tundrius Peregrine

 An ASY Red-tailed Hawk was also banded.
ASY Red-tailed Hawk


Wednesday, October 3, 2012



 What a week it has been!
  I tryed for Owls on the 26th of September in Howling winds ,and of course wound up with nothing.

1st Owl of the Season

I missed the 27th and went out again on the 28th. I was pleasently surprised by catching 12 Saw-whets on a light Northwest wind and Waxing gibbonous moon.  One was a Juvie that still had alot of Retained Nestling Plumage.The following night brought 6 more Saw-whets.
A very dark Juvie Saw-whet

 Saturday was Rained out, but Sunday did not disappoint catching 20 Saw-whets which included 1 Foreign Encounter.and 1 retrap from Thursday. The retrap had put on an extra 6 grams in 4 days.
23rd Owl Banded Oct 1 2012
 On Monday we set a new Station Record by catching 23 new unbanded Saw-whets, and Tuesday I netted another 21 new Owls.
8 Owl netcheck

  This is by far the fastest start to the Owl season and with only a week into it, there is no doubt in my mind that the Overall Station Fall Owl Record will fall! That is especially true, since the Highest 1 season record is 115 Saw-whets.

 We have not even seen the peak of the season and still have atleast 5 weeks to go. It is important to note that we are in the Peak of the Saw-whets natural 5 year cycle.

Hatch-year Female Northern Harrier

 The Hawks....................................well not so impressive. I have manged only 4 Hawks Banded in the first month of operation . The flights once again like last season have not been very conducive for our station. We still have anoth 5 weeks or more to go, so the tides can turn (we hope)!
Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2012 Season Start

Well the Hawk Station has been set up since the beginng of September and thus far we are at 0 Bandings. I have been able to get out 7 days of the first 13 and there has not been a Flight to speak of. Hopefully the predictions of a warmer and dryer than normal Fall are not true and we will get a better Flight than last Season.

  The Owl nets will be setup by the 20th of the month and time will tell how well we will do!

 On a sad note , we are with a Heavy Heart with the passing of Nancy Heidenriech.
  I was lucky to have made several ventures around the Innisfree Properties with Nancy and her Husband Conrad. If it wasn't for them, my  work on the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas would have suffered emencely and I would not have had the Good Fortune to have start the Innisfree Banding and Hawk Watch Station.
 She will be sorely missed !Our Condolances go out to Conrad and their Children and all that knew and Loved her!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Every Season we try to band the Nestlings of the Osprey Platform and Kestrel Boxes. This season was no exception , and was shaping up to be a good season. Between 2 Nest Boxes that I knew were in use, there wher 9 eggs. Although they were about 3 weeks behind last years dates.
 Banding of the Kestrels took place on June 27 and 28th last season as did the Osprey Chicks.  This season they were a little later. July 1st saw the Osperys banded . 2 chicks and 1 Idled egg were in the nest. This brought our total to 12 Osprey banded over 5 seasons! This is a pretty good showing we feel , and look forward to many more seasons of banding the Osprey of Innisfree!
Osprey Chicks with new Stainless Steel Bands

 The Kestrels were just starting to hatch on the 1st of July at Innisfree and and a 2nd box down the road. A third box on the 3rd line fledged (again) before we had checked it! They had atleast 3 chicks as there were 5 Kestrels seen flying about the location on the 27th of June. A box on the 4th line I thought was not used as I had seen Starling often in the vicinity. Today on inspection I learned that the Kestrels I had seen down the road were obviously from this box. That was another 4 young for sure as 6 individuals were seen a few days earlier.
Liam and the Only Kestrel Chick that was Banded
 The boxes at Innisfree and the 2nd line were checked today with poor results! The box with 5 eggs yielded only 1 Chick and 2 Idled eggs. The Box on the 2nd line with 4 eggs , yielded only 2 Idled eggs and alot of Ants!
 Needless to say I was quite disheartened  about the outcome! But that is the way it goes I guess. I try not to disturb nests  and have lost opportunity to Band Nestlings due to not being a little more pro-active of checking the Boxes. So I will endeavour to check all  the boxes atleast twice a nesting season.

 We did replace 1 old box today on the 6th Line and put up a box at a new site on the 5th Line. There will be atleast 10 more Boxes erected in the next 6- 8 months!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Well yeah ,it's been 4 months since I have posted, but there is not a whole lot of "New" news! The Spring banding season came and went with mixed success. I was able to get out several nights for Owl Banding, but caught no Saw-whets. I was able to catch 8 new Long-eared Owls however and had a retrap of the Eastern Screech Owl that we originally caught the night Nina was out for the Owl Banding.

 On the Raptor front, it didn't fair well at all. I believe I caught only 1 Red-tail in the nets . Nigel had a bit of success with the Goshawk Traps at Edwards Farms. He caught a couple Red-tails, a Coopers and a Great-horned Owl. Road trapping was somewhat successful with a few more Red-tails,Kestrels and Northen Shrikes. A big surprise was a Snowy Owl caught and Banded in late april.

  The summer is seeing a few of our Nest boxes being used by Kestrels, and will be checking them in a week or two for Banding the Fledglings. The Osprey are most likely raising young by now, and we will once again Band the Chicks. Turkey Vultures are once again nesting on the property of Innisfree Farms but in a differant Barn this time. The Eggs are probably hatched now, but I haven't been there in over a week. We are nt qualified to Tag the Turkey Vultures ,so will only monitor the nest and fledging for Dates.

  Nigel has spent the Spring season as Head of the Banding Operations at Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto. Although the Passerines are not what he endeavours to band , he has had a great Spring! Banding a new Species for him(Yellow-breasted Chat) and an extremely Rare Warbler Hybrid. A cross between a  Black and Grey and a Townsends Warbler. This Hybrid has only been recorded a few times ever, but never in Ontario as they are both Western Warbler Species. It caused quite a stir when the info was released to the General Public, but that was not until it was confirmed by Experts from Cornell of their suspicions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winter Season

So far this winter has been short of spectacular! Although we are nearing the end of February, we really haven't experienced much winter . We have done Nil,Nada, Zilch Zip for Snow Buntings. They just haven't been around very much and definately not in Reliable Flocks. Horned Larks are already quite prevelent in the Fields and along the Roads of our Winter Study Areas. These are true Harbingers of Spring(not Robins)! We can only play the Cards we are dealt, and the Dealing has not been Great!

Second Year Northern Shrike

That being said, we have managed to catch 6 Snowy Owls(caught another today), about 6 Red-tails, 3 Kestrels, 3 Shrikes, 1 Coopers Hawk and 2 extremely unexpected Birds.

The first was a SY Red-shouldered Hawk . This is odd as they don't normally overwinter here in Simcoe County, especially as a Juvie.

Second Year Red-shouldered Hawk

The second was a SY Bald Eagle! Wow.........................didn't see that one coming!
Nigel caught the Eagle on a Bal-Chatri with a Hamster for Bait! He initially thought it was a Red-tail because the light was behind it, Boy was he surprised when this thing came Barrelling for the Hamster!In 30+ years of Banding this was Nigels first Eagle Species(Congrats)!

This also marked the first of both species for the Simcoe County Banding Group as a whole!

After Second Year Male Snowy Owl

Another ASY Snowy

After Second Year Male American Kestrel

My first Snowy Owl! An ASY Male

So I guess it hasn't been a total Bust! Actually it is a better season Raptor wise than last Winter, so lets hope that is a sign of things to come!

 Nigel has left for a Banding Expedition in South Africa! He will be banding Raptors along the Kahlahari Trail(Lucky Bastard) ! He was selected by the AFC(Artist for Conservation) to recieve a Grant for this Trip. He will be doing Field Sketches and keeping notes ,aswell as taking alot of Photos. This is for when he returns he will have to do a series of Paintings and Tour with them , talking about How the importance of Bird Migration and Conservation is ! Congratulations on such an Honour Nigel!