Sunday, 4 September 2016

Sandpipers and Bird Banding Episode 3

     I have mentioned in a couple of recent posts that we have been monitoring a small wetland in nearby Erbsville, trying to photograph its diversity so that we have a species record if its existence becomes imperilled by current plans to create a major housing development close by. 
     A few days ago a Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria and a Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius were there together and at times came quite close to me.

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper
     Neither bird is in breeding plumage, although the difference is more pronounced in the Spotted Sandpiper. Here is what it looks like when breeding.

     Obligingly, they came close together a couple of times enabling me to take this shot where you can compare their differences.

     I was also able to get a few pictures of Eastern Comma Polygonia comma after quite a bit of chasing. For the most part it would alight for the briefest of moments and then take off. A little perseverance did the trick, however.

     Our bird banding was in high gear again yesterday and I am including below species not previously captured in the nets.
     One of our prizes was a beautiful male Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens, shown here in Kevin's careful hands.

     As most of you know, I am sure, the birds are retrieved from the nets in cloth bags. The birds are usually still and quiet once in the darkness of the bag, but if they do flap a little the bags give easily and no damage is done to their wings, as would happen if they were in a box, for example. Here are bags containing birds waiting to be be banded and released on their way.

     A female Nashville Warbler Leiothlypis ruficapilla was quickly processed and released after a couple of pictures were taken.

     American Yellow Warblers Setophaga aestiva are amongst the earliest warblers to leave after breeding, so we were a little surprised to capture two of them.

     We are always happy when children come to observe the goings on, and here you can see Kevin providing his usual level of calm, patient explanations to Emma Trink, her sister, Abigail and Kendra Sonnemann, who was there for the first time. Emma and Abigail are old hands at this now!

     The kids lost no time in persuading Sandy to take them for a ride in her EZ Go - they did the circuit of the nets the easy way!

     We captured a Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, as we did last week and this bird was well into moult, enabling us the explain the moult sequence and the feather tracts to both adults and children present.

     Our final new species of warbler was a Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas, and we caught two individuals.

     Our totals were not as high as the previous two weeks but rewarding nonetheless. We will look forward to next Saturday to see what the nets reveal then.

Total species banded: Northern Flicker (1), Red-eyed Vireo (1), Black-capped Chickadee (1), Nashville Warbler (3), Common Yellowthroat (2), American Yellow Warbler (2), Black-throated Blue Warbler (1), Song Sparrow (3) Total individuals: 14


  1. Que placer ver que los niños aprendan desde muy pequeños el amor y la pasión por la naturaleza. Un reportaje fantástico, gran trabajo David. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  2. The close-up look at birds you get when banding, or watching birds being banded, is so special.

  3. Hi David.

    Super nice birdie the Sandpiper.
    Beautiful butterflies too.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  4. How nice to see these beautiful birds! I am glad that children learn in practice to help the birds!

  5. Hello David, what a beautyful birds that Solitary Sandpiper and that Spotted Sandpiper. Nice to see the different sices. I had to smile about you chasing the Comma I could see it al in my imagination. But in the end you got some nice captures of it. Always nice to see that children are so facinated of what is happening in nature and thus also the ringing of the birds. All in all a nice blog again David.
    Take good care and enjoy Autumn.

  6. Hi David.You did well to get close to a Solitary Sandpiper I think. Perhaps they are much more confiding than our close relative Green Sand. They could hardly be less whereby I think I will wait forever for a shot of Green Sandpiper. That Eastern Comma is simply amazing in its colouration and shape, true camouflage in so many ways.

    I've seen it all now. Going round the nets in a buggy" Do you stop at a cafe on the way there and top up with coffee and croissants in case you cant make it back to the ringing table?

    1. We didn't need to. Miriam had delicious blueberry muffins waiting for us when we returned!

  7. Super to see the Sandpiper images, David, and the one that shows the differences (with size being striking!) is excellent. Funny how the Solitary has more spots than the Spotted, when not in breeding plumage!! Must send you a copy sometime of a rather amusing flowchart to assist with sandpiper identification.

    I'm rather fond of Canada's version of the Comma Butterfly - very rich coloration compared to ours.

    Unless I'm wrong, Miriam's been very busy making bird bags!

    Love to you both - - Richard

  8. Would love to see a Solitary Sandpiper up close...........

  9. Hi David,
    marvelous photos of the Sandpiper and all the other birds too. Amazing !
    Best regards, Synnöve

  10. Hi David,
    I never participated in a counting wetland. Perhaps this winter.
    The Spotted Sandpiper is very very amazing !!! Oh my god :) Fantastic pictures David.
    I'll come to open the little bag ..... lol
    Hugs and good evening.
    When a trip to France ?

  11. Love the sandpiper shots, interesting seeing with wing markings of the Northern Flicker. Your Comma has darker edges to its wings otherwise quite similar to ours I think. Have a good week. Diane

  12. Hi. Very amazing photos of the beautiful birds.

  13. Very nice pictures of the Sandpipers ...

    Thank you too for showing the bags and explaining how you band - I really am a novice and it is good to know and learn. Especially like to see the youngsters take an interest too.

    I must also say that Miriam's blueberry muffins do indeed sound delicious.

    All the best Jan

  14. You are teaching those lucky enough to be there to watch your fine work and , as well, your virtual audience. The sandpiper comparisons were most helpful .. Maybe I'll remember when I get back to where I can bird again. I didn't know about the bags...that's good to know. And the warblers are all wonderful.

    1. Sounds like you have been laid up, Sallie. Hope you are very soon able to be out and about again.

  15. Looks like you had a very rewarding day David,love the Sandpipers,superb captures.

  16. Beautiful post again, David. The little bags story is new to me, but it sounds good. The wings stay put to the bodies, right? Amazing to see how relaxed the birds are during banding. Gr Jan W

  17. Hi David, yet another super post, what a beautiful bird the Spotted Sandpiper is, also what a difference in size when they came together. Miriam spoils you with these Blueberry Muffins. Great to see the little ones watching the ringing. Regards to you both John.

  18. Hey! Interesting to see when birds are examined and recorded. Greetings

  19. Marvelous photos David. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I was very interested in your comments about Washington DC and was very sorry to hear about your fellow Canadian's experience. No doubt it does have a history but I believe the crime statistics have actually come down over the last 20 years. In the 40 years I have visited DC and my husband having worked there before he retired for many years, in between all the other places we have lived in the States, we came back to Virginia 25 years ago, and we have never had a problem visiting. Washington DC, as far as cities go, gives me a great feeling when I visit. Also the people I have met have been wonderful. Now I need to get up to New York :)

  20. Hello David
    Wonderful array of different birds and butterflies.
    Perfect sharply photographed.
    Good that you birds rings, I've never seen the bags.
    Best regards, Irma

  21. Hello David,
    beautiful pictures of this sandpiper. Beautiful drawing and nice bright. The butterfly is so beautiful and it's nice to have this closed and to see with open wings :-) Measuring, weighing and ringing of birds has a function. The last picture of the bird is simply a gorgeous bird.
    Enjoy today.
    Kind regards, Helma

  22. Beautyful bird and Polygonia comma photos David.