The final of our first round of MAPS visits was to the Rock Ridge station in Frontenac Provincial Park last week. Rock Ridge is unique in many ways. It is located atop a steep sided gorge, which offers stellar views of the surrounding landscape dominated by Eastern White Pine. The bird community is representative of the coniferous tree cover as well as the scrubby, exposed rock barrens of the area. During our first visit in 2009 we were greeted with a good number and variety of birds – 23 captured of 14 species. Our first morning this year was a much slower affair as just 10 birds were banded in six hours and there were no recaptures of birds banded in 2009. We did band two female Black-and-white Warblers, both of which had heavily vascular brood patches, which suggested they were presently incubating.
This spring has been an early one and the vegetation is much further advanced than it was last year at this time. Also, many of the species at RRID are earlier migrants from temperate wintering grounds and so it is possible that the timing of our first visit in 2010 coincided with the period when most females are incubating and thus activity/movement is low. We may have encountered this on visit two in 2009 when, once again, only ten birds were captured! This is a good learning experience for us as it now makes sense to sync our first visits in time with the season rather than a specific date.
So the morning was unexpectedly quiet but it was even more surprising that no birds banded in 2009 were recaptured; all of the birds shown here represent new captures. Another sign of the advanced spring was the observation and/or capture of recently fledged Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow and Blue Jay. We didn’t start seeing young birds until visit two and three in 2009. Seabrooke got two juv Field Sparrows out of net 5 on one of her fruitful net rounds (see below for a pic).
It is safe to say that I am completely enamored with this place. It is highly diverse, always has the unexpected and is undeniably remarkable. We will be operating the Rock Ridge MAPS station through at least 2013 but hopefully through 2019 – we’ve only just begun…
Rock Ridge – Visit 1 of 7
New birds banded (10 of 7 species)
Field Sparrow – 2
Black-and-white Warbler – 2
Red-eyed Vireo – 2
Hermit Thrush – 1
White-throated Sparrow – 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 1
Blue Jay – 1