One of the first events of the Great Stratford Bird Festival was bird banding at Stratford Point. Director of the CAS Coastal Center at Milford Point, Frank Gallo, opened the mist nets at 7AM to see what we could catch. He is an expert on not only the birds of Connecticut but banding as well. His expansive knowledge is unbelievable. Frank noted that the breezy morning with relatively few migrant passerines from the night before would likely mean we would catch very few birds, if any, in the nets. Don't worry about the birds though - Frank and my fellow blog author Twan are federally licensed bird banders who are specially trained and authorized to do this sort of scientific research. This is definitely a "don't try this at home" sort of thing.
Luckily we were able to get some, and by 8:45 we had a Song Sparrow and a Swamp Sparrow. Both of them were in the one section of net spanning basically east to west. It would catch birds going, in effect, towards the mouth of the river or away from it.
After we extracted these birds from the net we went and checked all the nets, pulling out any plants or insects that had been caught. While doing this I spotted another Swamp Sparrow flying by and actually saw it fly into the same net that caught the others. We took this one back with the other two.
Frank banded all three, completing everything from wing measurements to weighing them to checking their age. Here he is going through the motions with one of the Swamp Sparrows.
I learned a lot from Frank simply by watching and listening, and I know everyone would appreciate watching his talent in action sometime. We did not catch any other birds before closing the nets. However, we did leave them up for use in the Stratford Bioblitz at the very least. I have to imagine we could find some very interesting fall sparrows in them in October...
Over the next few days I will post more in depth accounts and photos of some Great Stratford Bird Festival events after a very successful weekend. Stay tuned.
Photos 1-2 © Twan Leenders; photos 3-6 © Scott Kruitbosch