Sideways Rain

A precursor of winter storms arrived today with rain, fog, big surf, and wind strong enough to flush the upstairs toilet. Unfortunately a boat landing was scheduled, and we spent four hours in soaking conditions at the North Landing crane dealing with an island tour, $1,500 of new groceries from Costco, a 78-foot schooner, and a Zodiac with a quitting engine. By early afternoon, all of us were slouched in the kitchen amid an array of Action Packers, energy spent.

Yesterday was a bit better. I unexpectedly caught a Burrowing Owl in a mist net, and Sara, a grad student studying the owls this winter, was pleased at the opportunity to fit it with a radio transmitter. Then Dan found a Grasshopper Sparrow skulking on the terrace, and we managed to herd it into another mist net (Oscar and I fought over who got to band it, and ended up splitting it up – he put the band on, I took the measurements). Overall, though, things are rapidly slowing down. Fall migration is mostly over, and Farallon winter looms ahead.

2 replies
  1. Birding is Fun!
    Birding is Fun! says:

    I’d never heard of people “herding” birds into mist nets…not that I am opposed to it…its for the sake of science. I wonder if playing song bird calls to lure birds into mist nets is “okay” by banding standards. I know they play owl calls at night to catch them in mist nets.

  2. Noah Strycker
    Noah Strycker says:

    Most banding stations try not to flush birds into nets, since it biases standardized effort calculations. At the Farallones, we don’t even keep track of effort; the point of banding birds here is to differentiate individual birds so we can see how long they stay on the island. So, we try to catch every single migrant bird that lands here (we end up getting most of them). Gently flushing birds into nets is fine as long as they don’t panic. Anyway, that’s why it’s fun to be a bander here: sometimes it requires a wily approach!

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