Our first week of fall banding for the 2020 season is complete! After testing negative for COVID-19 and traveling under the restrictions that Massachusetts has put in place, the banders were ready for work. The jungle that had grown up along the net lanes during spring and summer has been fought back to make room for the 50 nets. Portions of the net lanes that are usually bare dirt are overgrown with low growing Path Rush (Juncus tenuis) from the lack of banders traveling the paths in the spring. We banded 166 new birds our first week; an even 100 of which were Gray Catbirds. The first bird we captured was a hatch-year Carolina Wren with a Gray Catbird not long after. We also processed an additional 47 recaptures. So far, we’ve caught 19 species including local breeding birds like Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, and American Robin.
Dry conditions persist throughout the Northeast as a moderate drought is in effect for most of the region. The bogs have very little standing water in them and raspberries and pokeweed berries are dried up on the vine on the Holmes Farm. It was pleasantly cool to start the week with low humidity, perfect for setting up nets. Showers early Tuesday delayed our opening but brought some much-needed rain to Manomet. Also on Tuesday, Megan heard the distinctive, monotone “yank-yank-yank” call of a Red-breasted Nuthatch on the bluff, and, later that day, we caught our first one! Another eight were heard around the net lanes as we opened Friday. It seems like it might be another “irruptive” (when short-distance migrants move farther south) year for Red-breasted Nuthatches and possibly winter finches. If there is a poor seed crop up north, several species of winter finches may “irrupt” south this fall and winter to find more abundant food sources.