Fall Begins

The month of September is always dedicated to banding the neo-tropical migrants that pass through west Texas on their way to their wintering grounds in the south. The month started of typically enough during the first 10 days of the month. We had good numbers of migrant orioles, flycatchers and warblers netted in our efforts at the old Myers Spring ( SPR) and along the South Concho River (SCR). Although numbers never approached those of the same period in 2011 and our species count was more limited, there was little to indicate this was anything but a normal migrant banding season. 
At the end of the second week of the month, we left for Rockport , Texas to be part of the Hummerfest Festival that his held there each September. We arrived there and found good numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to band for the many guests that come to that festival.  We set up for banding to start the next morning but awoke the next morning to the sounds of thunder and heavy rain. Although the rain soon cleared , we found most of the Ruby-throats had been moved out by  the front that generated  the rain. We struggled to trap enough birds for demonstration purposes throughout the next three days but managed. It was a sharp contrast to normal years when we band typically band hundreds of these birds during this time.

We returned home to resume our migrant banding project and found that the number of migrants and the number of migrant species was well below what we had encountered when we left for Rockport. Either a large percentage of migrants had passed our stations while we were in Rockport or the drought  that took place during breeding season  in the central United States had taken a toll on many of the species that migrate through our region.

During the last week of the month, we had a program for a group of students from the ranch country around Sheffield, Texas. They were a delightful group that left home very early in the morning to arrive at the Hummer House in time for a banding demonstration. Although we had many nets around the South Concho River Station,  we did not have enough birds to continue the demonstration by mid morning. We relocated to the Hummer House and started demonstrating hummingbird banding to conclude the program.  A few days following that program, the Concho Valley received some of the heaviest rains ever recorded in September. The roads to our banding locations were impassable and many of our net locations were under water for several days. 

Various efforts were made during early October but almost all migrant activity had stopped by the time we were able to resume our banding efforts. With the migrants gone and very few winter birds on site, we had very minimal success except for resident birds. At the end of the month, one effort was made at the East Windmill Station to check for the arrival of winter residents. We did not expect  great success but found many winter residents already on site in good numbers.