Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More of Terry's Plover!

Careful examination of color-marked birds is critical. [Is there an echo in this blog?] Was the green flag not visible to you? Others had the same observation. This afternoon Terry Jenkins provided me with this third photograph which shows the green flag distinctly.

As it turns out, looking at Terry's Piping Plover may be good practice for coastal Virginia shorebirders this spring. In recent years there has been little marking of the threatened Atlantic population of Piping Plovers. The endangered Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains populations have been widely marked (and re-sighted from Oregon Inlet, NC to the south Texas coast) for many years as part of the recovery effort.

Recent winter census efforts have found significant numbers of Piping Plovers wintering in The Bahamas. [Smart plovers, especially this winter.] To which of the three Piping Plover breeding populations these birds belong is unknown, although it is suspected that they may be from Atlantic Canada: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Magdalen Islands (Quebec) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In any event, the Canadian Wildlife Service has funded and partnered with The Bahamas government and The Bahamas Trust in a project to capture and color mark up to fifty plovers wintering on several islands in The Bahamas this January and February. Each plover captured will have a plastic black flag placed on an upper leg together with a unique combination of plastic color bands on their lower legs. There will be no metal bands placed on the birds.

Come late March to mid-April some of these marked plovers may stop along the mid-Atlantic coast. Two plovers were seen by a CVWO volunteer on the Chesapeake Bay beach at First Landing State Park on April 16, 2009. Other plovers are seen annually on spring migration along the Back Bay beaches and at Chincoteague NWR. With luck and vigilance you could find a banded plover as did Terry. Have your optics ready and your camera at your side.

Look What Terry Found in Florida!!

Terry Jenkins, a new CVWO board member and an able banding station volunteer, is always birding. Terry birds while playing golf or attending a sporting event or vacationing in Florida over Christmas 2009 with his wife, Josie. His vigilance provided important data from a sandbar off Fort Meyers on Christmas Day when he spotted this color-banded Piping Plover.

Thanks to e-mail and birding friends, Terry was able to learn within hours of his sighting that this individual bird was banded as a chick on the upper Missouri River as part of an on-going Virginia Tech/Army Corps study overseen by Dan Catlin from the lab of Dr. Jim Fraser, a prominent shorebird researcher. The Northern Great Plains Piping Plover population is an endangered species. [The date of marking and exact location are not known at this writing. Will update.] Remarkably, Terry also learned that Sidney Maddock of Buxton, NC had seen this same individual plover on March 12, 2008 at Estero Lagoon, Florida (just south of Fort Meyers) while doing research for Environment Canada. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&source=hp&q=estero%20lagoon%20fl&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

Terry's photographs provide a opportunity to understand how to record observations of color-marked birds. First, one photograph or a quick observation will not always disclose all the markings. Careful observations, a handy camera or both are critical. Here, it took two photos to confirm that the plover has a green flag on its upper left leg. [Left and right are always in relation to the bird's right or left. Upper and lower leg refer to markers above or below the "ankle" joint.] Second, the color bands on the lower left and right legs, clearly visible and not faded here, must be recorded to note their relationship with each other. Thus, the lower left leg is white over yellow and the lower right leg is red over green. Third, the upper right leg is obscured. There could be a metal USGS band, another color band or nothing above the joint. Based upon these photographs, the status is unknown and should be recorded as such. Partial observations of color-banded individuals are useful and often definitive, as it was with Terry's bird. For more information on color-marked birds see: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/aboutaux.htm

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Bander Training at FLSP

Greetings. The 2010 spring season is but eight weeks away! The Station will set up on the weekend of February 27-28. We will be open on seven of the first fourteen days of March again in 2010 and daily thereafter until May 31st.

Basic bander training will be offered for the second year over two weekends, one in late March and one in mid-April. The Notice is below.

Water levels in the Park are now unusually high, given 61" of rainfall in 2009--much in the late fall. This may attract some interesting migrants come spring 2010. Plan to visit the Station this spring as the weather warms and the birds become active. Above are two birds from 2009--a resident Pileated Woodpecker and a migrant Bicknell's Thrush. The Bicknell's is likely enjoying some time in the Dominican Republic just now.

Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory
at First Landing State Park.

Basic Bird Banding Training Session, 2010.

The Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory (“CVWO”) with the cooperation and assistance of First Landing State Park will offer a basic, bird banding training program over two weekends in March and April 2010. The program is intended to begin to train individuals with an interest in pursuing avian field research opportunities in the necessary skills and basic literature essential to such research. This is the second year that CVWO has offered bander training at First Landing.

The single session will be held over two weekends of March 26-28, 2010 and April 9-11, 2010 in the Park and at the passerine banding station run there by CVWO. Participants will stay in a group residence in the Park. Seminar sessions will take place during Friday and Saturday evenings. Field training is on Saturday and Sunday beginning one hour before sunrise, weather permitting, at the banding station which is a twenty-minute walk by Park trails from the residence. Sunday training will end in the early afternoon.

Training will include: netting and trapping techniques, removal of birds from mist nets, Potter traps and whoosh nets, proper handling and processing of birds (including biometrics, ageing and sexing) and data management. The course will use training manuals produced by the North American Banding Council and Pyle, Identification Guide to North American Birds, vol. 1, (1997). The course will be taught by an NABC-certified Trainer.

A preference will be given to current college students or recent graduates demonstrating an interest in avian research. Enrollment will be opened to other interested individuals after March 12, 2010. The proceeds of the course will benefit the research and conservation programs of CVWO. The cost for the course to students/recent graduates, which includes housing and course materials, is $275.00 ($250.00, plus a $25.00 registration fee). The cost to other participants is $450.00. Transportation, food and bedding are the responsibility of each participant. A kitchen is available in the group residence, as are beds and bunks. Enrollment is limited to a maximum of ten participants.

All interested individuals should promptly contact Peter Doherty by e-mail at leasttern AT hotmail.com. Please provide a statement of your particular interest in participating in the training session. If seeking the “student-recent graduate preference”, also provide an outline of current or recent college affiliation and course of study, together with at least one faculty reference and contact information. Decisions concerning enrollment will be made beginning February 24, 2010.