Constant Effort Banding is an extremely useful tool as it allows researchers study a number of different things: breeding rates, migration patterns, habitat use, bird condition, etc. It however is limited in scope to passerines and other small birds and does not account for the numbers of larger birds such as: raptors, ducks, seabirds, shorebirds, etc. At most inland banding stations this does not matter much as the vast majority of birds are indeed passerines. Monomoy however is a unique coastal location and major stopover site for shorebirds, seaducks, and terns, it also hosts good numbers of dabbling ducks and seabirds. This is why MRBS undertaken a regimented census in 2012.
Beyond the simple goal of documenting bird movement through the station the census will also allows us to compare how migrations of different types of birds are related to each other. We may find striking patterns between long distance vs. short distance migrants of different groups, or perhaps we will see patterns between movements and weather patterns that link migration across all groups. Finally, Monomoy is a major draw to birds being such prime habitat surrounded by ocean it could perhaps bring in some truly amazing rarities that would be missed by only banding.
So far in 2012 after a month of census we have had good numbers of birds and good diversity shorebirds (especially considering we missed the last 2 weeks of Aug) including: Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 species of peeps, and thousands of Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, and Sanderlings.
October has welcomed the arrival of Peregrines and Merlins chasing shorebirds at Powder Hole and Flickers in the trees. Although we may by chance capture one of these in a net but it is unlikely. Visual ID of these species however is easy and the census accounts for them. October has also brought in large numbers of seaducks in the Atlantic with all three species of scoters showing up in the thousands and increasing to tens of thousands by the end of the season.
Thanks to the great effort and skills of our techs we are amassing large amounts of data on the birds passing through Monomoy. At the end of the season we will mine this data and look for connections between the migration movements of divergent groups of birds hopefully finding patterns as yet undiscovered by science. If not at lease we will arrive a wonderfully immense species list for the station.
More birds to come.