Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Research Roundup: Week of 7/7/2014


Went to Fort Indiantown Gap (FIG), our farthest site and a National Guard training post. Huge. The fields are huge and very much unlike the fields where we normally work although I can't really put my finger on what it was. Going down was a caravan of students to set up mammal traps, mist nets for birds, and various insect collecting apparati (apparatuses?). 

The old-burn site was full of butterflies of all flavors including the endangered Regal Fritillary

Mist netting was a great success given the few nets we put up. I think we captured 8 birds. Unfortunately, and this sucks, the ends blew out of the cap tubes - so no blood sample. We pull feathers for this but this stinks. Caught a few Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhee, Common Yellowthroat, and Field Sparrow. Going back Thursday and will hopefully catch a few more. My first Pennsylvania (and North) Red-headed Woodpecker was calling less than 100 m away. That guy would be awesome to catch. Blue Grosbeaks were there too and added to the playback selection for Thursday. 

I'll post all the pictures for FITG below. 


Went out to the Jacob's Property off HWY 115. Man, those woods are creepy early in the morning. Made my way out the pipeline, did two count points and done. Boom. Not much in the right-of-way except Field Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, and Indigo Buntings. Back in the office by 10. Got nothing done today. Nothing. 

Severe storms right now. I should be sleeping but the sky is orange and tornado warnings in the surrounding counties. Reading Game of Thrones and really digging it... apparently everybody does. 


Up to Wilkes-Barre Mountain for a second round of point counts. The road up was in worse shape so it was slow going. Towhees and Field Sparrows everywhere. Missed Indigo Bunting but picked them up with a call between the two point locations. They were singing away at FIG. 


Went to Fort Indiantown Gap for the food web project. Had five nets up to catch birds: two nets for the burned site and three in the unburned site. Despite few nets, we were very productive catching several birds including Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, a first year Field Sparrow and two American Goldfinches. Missed the Blue Grosbeak that was there as well as the Red-headed Woodpeckers - both male and female were flitting around. A flock of a dozen or so Eastern Bluebirds flew by too. I suspect that was, maybe, two clutches? 


A cool morning at Lackawanna State Park. I was greeted a few deer. Not much was going on in their fields - not much at all. 


Back to SGL036.  Lots of birds. Didn't have the close encounters with the ravens although I did hear them off in the distance. Didn't get the Northern Harrier but I did get Henslow's Sparrow. That's my first in PA and one of two or three I've seen. This is a prairie species that colonized east although it seems to peter out on the eastern side of PA. This species has been rapidly declining... everywhere. 

Ravens were heard off in the distance and there are still dozens of Grasshopper Sparrows. There was a Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk calling from the forest next to the fields. Like other sites, Indigo Buntings are still there but quiet and the Tree Swallows have moved on to other places (and I have no idea where). 


Sunday? Yup!  Time constraints have me out there at Rickett's Glen State Park. Had a coyote run across the road on the way in and then I had a bear about 20' away eating blueberries. The usual suspects were there along with White-throated Sparrows. Should have photos for today but I left the (&$% SD card in the %$()*U&$  laptop.


Monday? Yup, bonus day! I'm including it because it was the last day for point counts. All the data have been entered and I have over 1000 observation. I spent 12 hours and 40 minutes counting birds. That does not include the driving time.  Doesn't sound like much but when you're waking up at 3 AM.. not getting up then is a big deal. 

I went to SGL221 in Cresco, PA. The site was forest, then it was cut with a few trees remaining intact. The result after a few years and an incredibly dense shrubland. This is not a grassland and it the most different site of all my sites. There are many forest birds that have shown up in the shrubland including the typical shrubland birds such as Eastern Towhee (lots), Indigo Buntings (lots). The coolest surprise were a several Veery - a bird I think of as an older forest bird. Yet there they were in amongst bear oak and blueberries. I also picked up a Blue Grosbeak. Surely data should show that this species is expanding to the north. 

So the birds were cool but it was a bear day. Walking to the site had a female bolt in front of me. That scared the bejesus out of me. Then she stopped running and was making noises. That scared the bejesus out of me. And two cubs scrambled up a tree. I backed off and a few seconds later they came down and off they went. Made it to my first site, was counting birds, and another bear poked his head out in the trail. Cool. This one was far enough away to make me comfortable. Then my last point count spot had another bear. At least I assume it was, crashing through the shrubs near me. 

So now research will be catching birds for the food web aspect and analysis.

Some pictures from the day

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