Our third season of M.A.P.S is now approaching its halfway point. Our second round of visits to the three stations was a little more active than the first, especially at Blue Lakes (BLAK) and Maplewood (MABO). This striking male Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) was one of 23 birds captured on June 16 at MABO. Veery was the most abundant species captured that day followed by the ubiquitous Red-eyed Vireos – the most prolific forest songbird in the Frontenac Arch.
After capturing just 10 individuals in early June at BLAK, we expected another quiet day when we set the nets up at dawn on June 15. Perhaps the fairer weather helped as the vireos finally showed up and a bunch of other species seemed to be more evident. We ended the day with a meager but respectable 15 birds captured. Butterflies and other non-avian critters seemed to catch our attention throughout the morning, including the White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis) pictured above – a personal favourite.
There is no substitute for sitting patiently and quietly when you want to find wildlife. During our first visit a couple weeks earlier we had a Smooth Green Snake approach us at the banding station. During our next visit while I was out on a net round, Seabrooke was approached by this adult Five-linked Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) at the station! We also had a brief look at a blue immature individual just yesterday at the same spot.
Normally I pull the plug on any planned M.A.P.S visit when the forecast indicates a 50/50 or greater chance of precipitation – too risky for me. However, I had little choice with visit 2 to Rock Ridge (RRID) on June 17. There was a brief 30 minute shower near dawn, which delayed net opening, but the rest of the morning was generally just damp and cloudy. We closed slightly early due to the forecast late morning thunderstorms – don’t want to be caught in that when a couple of kilometres out on Big Clear Lake. We noted much more bird song and chatter on this visit compared to our first but it seemed that the dreary weather was limiting bird activity. We ended the abbreviated visit with just 7 captures but left feeling encouraged by the apparent increase in numbers of expected species, particularly Black-and-white Warblers and Eastern Towhees. We caught an Ovenbird, which was weird for rock barren habitat. Even more surprising was the Prairie Warbler that sang from two positions at opposite ends of the study area throughout the morning. I’ve already picked out his colour bands so hopefully he will be there when we return….