Over the weekend, I took a few friends, for their first visit, out to Point au Sable in order to share the beauty and solitude of this wonderful preserve. The weather was gorgeous, with bright sunshine, clear, blue skies, and at least seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Although the wind was far too strong (reaching well over 25 mph) to perform a bird survey, I did observe a few new, season’s first bird species! We ended up hearing the song of a Black-throated Green Warbler and observing a Black-and-white Warbler and a few Caspian Terns. Additionally, we saw numerous Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, House Wrens, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, which have been observed at the Point from anywhere between one to three weeks now.
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As a part of the UWGB Ornithology class field trips, Dr. Bob Howe set up a bird banding station at Point au Sable as a way to teach the class about how and why ecologists study bird species. Upon catching a bird in a mist net, the banding station’s head bird bander (i.e., Dr. Howe), places a uniquely numbered metal band around the lower part of a bird’s leg. The ultimate goal for an ecologist is to recapture previously banded birds at the same or different banding stations as way to gain information about individual species’ sexes, ages, weights, wing and tail measurements, geographic distributions, and migratory arrival and departure times.
Because the primary wave of spring migration has yet to come, we only caught one bird, a female American Robin, during the 2.5 hours of staying at the banding station. While teaching the class, Dr. Howe and Nick Walton banded the bird and performed multiple measurements on the individual.
However, while we were at the Point, we were fortunate enough to find Forster’s Terns, Killdeer, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, numerous White-throated Sparrows and Purple Finches, Swamp Sparrows, Ruby-crowned-kinglets, Chipping Sparrows, Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Purple Martins, House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, several woodpeckers, and many others!
Another special thanks to Kari Hagenow for sharing her photographs.
Here are a few photographs taken by graduate student, Kari Hagenow. Thank you very much for letting us share these with everyone.
Additional photographs taken by me (Erin Gnass):
It was mostly cloudy with a light breeze this morning at the Point. The warmer weather has brought in several new migrant bird species. Bonaparte’s Gulls flew past us during two counts with 12 individuals in the larger flock. Swamp Sparrows could be heard singing from the interior wetland. Other new spring migrants included Yellow-rumped Warbler and Eastern Towhee. The Fox Sparrows, which were abundant two-weeks ago, appear to have moved north, but there were still many Hermit Thrushes present. We expect to see White-throated Sparrow and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher soon. Not surprisingly, duck numbers continue to decline. There were only a few Common Goldeneye and Scaup left, but Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal were both seen for the first time this year. Northern Flickers, which are regularly detected at Point au Sable, were particularly conspicuous this morning. They were recorded during all three point counts and were seen or heard frequently while we walked between points. Sadly, European Starlings were seen investigating nest cavities at the end of the Point. One of the resident Bald Eagles was sitting on their nest but we did not see the other parent. All together, we recorded 36 species for the morning.
Observers: Nicholas Walton, Erin Gnass, Kari Petrashek, Ashley Fehrenbach
Last night, Green Bay experienced its first, intense spring thunderstorm for the year, which brought along large amounts of rain and wind. I was hoping to find a few new migrants at the Point, but only found twenty-one species, very windy and overcast conditions, and a lot of flooding. Regardless, I was still fortunate enough to find the Fox Sparrows near the middle of point the Point along the edge of some woody shrubs and trees. Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds were also still very numerous and actively singing and foraging. Within the forest, American Robins, White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Golden-crowned Kinglets were present. Along the bay, gulls and American White Pelicans were flying off the shore, and Double-crested Cormorants and at least one hundred Scaup were swimming off the bay. Also, one of mates of the nesting Bald Eagle pair flew overhead along the coastline. Right before leaving the point, I heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes calling off in the distance.
Observer: Erin Gnass
Baseline research at Point au Sauble began in 1999 with funding from an endowment donated by the Fox River Group. Even though Point au Sauble is widely recognized as one of the only remaining wetlands on the east side of Green Bay, little was known about this ecosystem and its biota. Bird banding and surveys are being conducted to understand how birds use the Point during the nesting and migration seasons. Surveys on other vertebrates and invertebrates of Point au Sauble will be conducted during future years to provide a more complete picture of the fauna in this unique area.
Students Nick Walton and Erin Gnass will be conducting surveys this spring and reporting them to the blog. Stay tuned.
Archives from 1999 and 2004 are reported on the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity website.
A complete list of birds seen at Pt. au Sauble is avaliable at the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.
Hello to everyone back in the frigid land of Wisconsin. Not to rub it in but I would like to update you on the weather we’ve been having. One word, beautiful. Warm (~80′s) and lots of sun. A little rain here and there and humidity that would give a balding man an afro. Despite the wonderful weather we still manage to get some things done here in Bocas. So far the highlights for me begin with the trip to the bat cave with Maurice. Besides his extensive knowledge of bats this guy can really traverse a cave. Accessing the second cave we went to was quite the adventure. We had to wade through a creek up to a small concrete dam which we scaled and then grasped onto a rock/fern/dirt/palm covered wall to avoid a 5 ft pool of water. To my disappointment no one fell into the water (I made a statement that whoever failed to traverse the obstacle had to buy everyone a beer the next night). The caves bats, spiders and whip scorpions were all amazing sights to see. Hopefully we can get some of the many photos we’ve been taking up on the site.
Today was filled with snorkeling and glass bottom boat rides to survey the megafauna of the seafloor. And with Sebastians excellent piloting skills we completed our surveys, watched some dolphins and made it back with an hour to spare before lunch.
Hope WI is getting lots of snow!
Welcome to our Panama Travel Blog. A joint trip between the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and St. Norbert’s College started last year. Each year 10-16 students and faculty travel to Panama to conduct a number of research projects in cooperation with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Station. The research focusses on long term biological monitoring techniques. Each year data is collected on a suite of ecologically important species. As this data accumulates over the years it may provide an important measure of change in Panamanian ecosystems.
For example, in collaboration with Maurice Thomas at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, we are recording the sounds that bats make as they forage for food. These ultra-high frequency calls are used by the bats to echolocate their way through the forests and mangroves on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. We are creating a library the echolocation calls of all the species we find and are planning to install a permanent recorder that will record bats throughout the year. We will be able to learn a great deal about the behavior and movements of these bats using this simple technique.
Other data we are collecting are long-term acoustic recordings of forest birds at Gamboa in collaboration with UWGB graduate student Jennifer Goyetteand UWGB faculty Amy Wolf and Robert Howe; underwater glass-bottom boat surveys of marine invertebrates in impacted and pristine areas at Bocas del Toro with UWGB faculty Vicki Medland and Robert Howe; Surveys of spiders in mangroves in collaboration with arachnologists Michael Draney of UWGB and Petra Sierwald at the Field Museum; surveys of soil nematodes in collaboration with Anindo Choudhury faculty at St. Norbert College.