VCE's final overnight foray to the Mansfield ridgeline yesterday was a
near wash-out. Four of us arrived to hypothermic conditions that
precluded any possibility of mist-netting - temps in the low 40sF,
strong winds, and soaking clouds. We struggled with numb fingers to set
up 10 nets, hoping (with low confidence) that weather might improve by
daybreak. It didn't, and temperatures had in fact dropped to the high
30s. After our second cup of coffee in the ski patrol hut, we decided
to venture up to the ridgeline, arriving ~7:30 am. Winds were a bit
lower than last night, and several Bicknell's Thrushes (BITH) were
calling, a few even breaking into song.
Knowing this represented our last chance for field work in 2013, we
decided to open nets, check them constantly, and try a few playbacks.
Surprisingly, we caught a BITH right off the bat, then another, then a
Golden-crowned Kinglet, then another BITH, then...the wind dropped
slightly and the temp soared to 39. We managed to keep our 10 nets open
until noon, banding inside my cramped but relatively warm Prius. When
all was said and done, we had netted 5 BITH - 3 adults (including one
male we banded back in June) and 2 immatures. We also banded 2
kinglets, 1 adult Blackpoll and 1 immature Yellow-rumped warbler.
Hardly a major haul, but far better than we had expected when peering
out the ski patrol hut windows at dawn.
BITH were far and away the most conspicuous birds on the ridgeline, with
at least 8 heard. As usual, they proved themselves far more hardy than
us humans. Their annual mid-September resurgence of activity is
puzzling, but probably related to the fact that many of them will be
right back on the ridgeline about 7 months from now. Most will depart
for their Greater Antillean wintering grounds during the next two
weeks. It won't surprise me if some push off with tonight's clearing
A handful each of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Golden-crowned Kinglets
completed our avian encounters outside of netting, although a distant
raven croaked once or twice. Not a single junco or White-throat was
seen or heard.
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
P.O. Box 420
Norwich, VT 05055
802-649-8281 ext. 1