On Friday, June 5 we successfully completed our first session of fieldwork at our Maplewood Bog MAPS station, which is located on crown lands north of Frontenac Provincial Park. Once again I was joined by Seabrooke Leckie, FBS research assistant and director of photography. Seabrooke and I left the station around noon with a very positive impression of MABO for its abundance of breeding birds and rich habitat. Less enjoyable were the Deer Flies, which were rather relentless but we were armed with some defense for their attacks. The site is more easily accessible than Hemlock lake, which was appreciated and is distinctly more deciduous in forest type than the other stations. The first sound we heard after parking the vehicle was that of a Whip-poor-will singing with remarkable gusto from the edge of a nearby bog within the station boundaries.
The name Maplewood Bog is our name for the site and was chosen based on this forest structure, which is dominant in the area. The forest consists primarily of maple and oak sp. with lesser quantities of ironwood, american beech, hop-hornbeam, shagbark hickory, basswood and eastern white pine. The forest is of a mixed age with scattered mature growth and an uneven canopy closure, which is well suited to the habitat requirements of Cerulean Warbler. There is at least one Cerulean Warbler, which sang tantalizingly close to net #10 for much of the morning. Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo and Scarlet Tanager also occupy upper levels of the forest while Veery and Northern Waterthrush are abundant in the understory. An important feature of the site for our research interests is the abundance of natural clearings and wetlands distributed throughout the forest, where birds congregate to bathe and forage and disperse with their young.
The mistnets used to capture the resident breeding birds for banding and study are positioned in a circular fashion around an area of about 7 hectares. The standardized route for checking the nets travels the edges of three bogs containing spongy mats of sphagnum moss. These bogs also feature a dense perimeter of shrubs where American Redstarts and Northern Waterthrushes are nesting. Swamp Sparrow, Wilson’s Snipe, Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats are also found in these habitats.
A small section of upland srub with rocky outcroppings occurs in the northwest corner of the site. This area is host to numerous Eastern Towhees, Field Sparrows and Great Crested Flycatchers to name a few. This habitat is found throughout the region on the tops of ridges where the glacial till is particularly lean.
A total of 26 birds were captured at MABO during visit 1, which was a little busier than Hemlock Lake just two days previous. On any given MAPS visit we are only going to capture a small sample of the breeding bird community, which is why no less than seven visits in a single season are required to portray adult and juvenile “superperiods”. We caught just one Eastern Towhee on this day but there are many more in the area, which we can expect to encounter on subsequent visits. The instantly recognizable “drink your tea” song is a ubiquitous sound at all three of our MAPS stations, making them one of the most common birds at our sites. This is likely a reflection, in part, of the selection of edge habitats as net sites-crucial for measuring productivity rates in late summer.
Nashville Warbler is another common species at all of the sites, although they have proven to be difficult to catch so far. We’ve only managed to capture two females (both with brood patches) that happened into our nets on the final round of the first visit to Maplewood Bog. The Nashville Warbler is a common breeder in the Frontenac Arch and Ontario as a whole, favouring more open forests with mixed deciduous and coniferous species.
The downward spiralling song of the Veery, no less distinctive than the song of the towhee, was heard in abundance at MABO during the first couple of hours we were there. The Veery is a regular breeder in deciduous forests with a closed canopy. I was thrilled to stumble upon an active nest of this species at the site and will be posting about that later in the week. We caught two of this species on this day and this particular female seemed happy to take Seabrooke’s offering of a Deer Fly for her trouble.
No question the bird du jour was Northern Waterthrush as a total of four were banded, all with either well developed brood patches (active breeding female) or cloacal protuberances (active breeding male). An adult was spotted carrying food along the shrubby edge of a small bog, indicating the presence of a nest with young in the area.
Ovenbirds are more often heard than seen and apparently more often heard than caught as well. Mistnets are usually very good at capturing skulky species such as the interior forest dwelling Ovenbird but we only managed to band a single individual during our visit. There were certainly more than just a couple of Ovenbirds in the area so I’m anticipating that we will encounter them more often as the season rolls along.
Maplewood Bog is looking like a very promising site and potentially the busiest of the three stations we are running in 2009. We both remarked how enjoyable it was to take a moment and listen to the Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Scarlet Tanager that sang persistently throughout the day within 50m of the banding station-Frontenac birding at its best!
Maplewood Bog-Visit 1 of 7
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 (unbanded)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak-1 (unbanded)