Thursday April 10, 2014.  A great team spent all morning setting up the nets and getting the Robert G. McKinney Banding Lab organized for the season.  Betsy was busy at net 15 when she heard a voice from her distant past yelling “lets get the dickey-bird station going!!!!” and who should appear but Frank Nicoletti who had some legendary days in the 1990’s banding passerines!  What a great first spring visitor to the station –  and after hugs, Frank left to teach his class at BBRR.

The southwest winds that finally brought a bit of warmth to the lakeshore also brought hundreds of migrating raptors and even a pair of Sandhill Cranes at one point.  It was eyes to the sky and often hard to concentrate on getting poles into the still-frozen ground and new nets attached and guy-wires set.  But a great team of volunteers – Mark Catlin, Jon Dombrowski, Tom Klotzbach, Brian and Gayle Lazoration, Pat Martin, Andrea Patterson, Rosemary Reilly, Jesse Roberts, Jim Saller, Doug Smith, and Tom and Jeanne Verhulst had us ship-shape before lunch!

It was good to survey the property – to see the results of the hard work Jim Gillette, Lyn Jacobs, Emily Johnson, Dave Mathiason and others had done to try to keep the land managed and under control.   Andrea saw a garter snake moving about in the field and Betsy found the remains of a dead Red-breasted Merganser in the vegetation – a sign of spring and a reminder of the incredibly tough winter behind us.

Daily banding will begin on Saturday April 12.  Let the season begin!

Betsy Brooks