Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Xena, visitors, and better things to come

Well, things are started to click along down here, slowly but surely - and it appears the flood gates have finally opened to our north, promising better owling to come.

Although we only caught two saw-whets Monday night - one at Small Valley and one at King's Gap - the latter bird, an immature female, left with a radio transmitter and a nickname that intern Hannah Panci came up with - Xena, for the TV warrior princess, in recognition of this little fighter's spirit. From her release until about 3 a.m., Xena stayed on the ridgetop near the banding station, then moved down the west side of the mountain, staying put until the tracking crew left her at 7:30 a.m.

Although we didn't have any owls at Hidden Valley, we did have a couple of interesting guests, who will be with us all week. Maggie McPherson and Calandra (Callie) Stanley are grad students at York University in Toronto, studying with Dr. Bridget Stuchbury, a specialist in songbird migration, and one of the first scientists to use geolocators like the ones we'll be deploying this fall.

Maggie and Callie are both working with wood thrushes and purple martins at Bridget's study site in northwestern Pennsylvania, and Callie is also tagging thrushes on their wintering grounds in Costa Rica. They've given up their fall break to drive down from Toronto and spend the week helping us with our geolocator work - and spend some time with owls, since Maggie began banding NSWOs in ninth grade in Ontario, working the Timiskaming stations run by Bruce Murphy.

Speaking of whom, Bruce posted a happy warning to those of us to the south that the wait may soon be over. Friday night they had 95 saw-whets, one of their biggest nights ever, although high winds have cut their catch rate since then. They're up to 390 for the season, and he thinks we in the south will have the roughly average flight I've been expecting this year, which for our sites would mean around 450-500 owls.


Chase said...

Thank you for keeping up with this blog, There may not be many comments, but I assure you, we are reading! I search for Saw-Whets every winter in various places in NJ. I hope to get lucky this year!

Scott Weidensaul said...

I'm writing as often as I can - it's been an incredibly busy season with three major projects, but there are a lot of great stories to tell...once I find an extra eight or 10 hours in the day.