Purple Martin Field Trip at Buena Vista Aug 14, 2016

Sunday August 14th, at Buena Vista
Leaders: Dale Hjertaas and David Blais

The Purple Martin Field Trip

Photos received from various members are at the end of the report.

Approximately 17 nature Regina members were joined by 6 or 8 people from Buena Vista and Regina Beach for this tour. As Nature Regina tours go, this one was quite relaxed. We assembled at the Buena Vista Village office, and from there David Blais led us to the beach parking area. We then walked down to the beach and several boat docks and spent the next hour and half watching the sunset, gulls, the lake and the ever growing flocks of Purple Martins. I found it very enjoyable, a relaxed chance to visit with many people while birds kept flying by to entertain us.

At first only a couple hundred Martins were foraging over the lake, circling round and perching in some distant trees. Numbers gradually grew and for a while a thousand or more would perch a few hundred metres down the beach, then suddenly fly out over the lake. As it got closer to sunset the Martins began homing in on the roost area, just above where we were standing. It was quite amazing to watch the Martins gliding effortlessly, then darting down into the trees.

I am not certain how many birds there were. This evening they came and settled in groups and did not all fly out again. I had thought at least 2,000 had settled in the trees and it might be over. Then after sunset two more large flocks of a thousand or so each, came in. They flew in and out a couple times, so close I am sure a few bird were within arm’s length. It was thrilling.

After the Martins had settled we cautiously went up the path to the roost trees to hear the chatter as Martins preened, talked and moved to better branches. It seems to take a lot of settling in! I lay down directly under roost trees and watched for a while. That was the highlight for me, watching the Martins settling in, preening, talking, finding a best spot on a branch. I watched a newcomer displace a bird that was already settled. Fifteen feet above me I counted 22 Martins in a few square feet on three branches of one caragana stem. One of the Martins defecated on me. A hazard of Martin watching I guess.

It was a wonderful experience and a beautiful sunset to boot. Thanks to David Blais for watching the Martins for the last few days so he knew exactly where to take us, for telling us about Martins, about Martin houses and The Purple Martin Society and for making the trip a success.

– submitted by Dale Hjertaas

Click on photos for larger views.

BV IMG_0055 Fran K

Another tree covered with Purple Martins. Notice how many birds are preening in this photo. Evening roost around 7:30 pm, prior to the main roosting after dark. David Blais said that they start in this area but move to where the Nature Regina group was waiting for the final evening roost. From last year's observation at the roost after sunset, I notice that the birds are behaving the same here as as they do when they put up in the final roost at night: flying in and out after periods of perching, preening a lot, calling all the time, flitting their wings, and many birds flying in. The advantage is that there was enough light to take photos at 7:30 pm, while when you go under the trees after dark, it is too dense and dark and you see the unattractive belly of the birds. There were several hundred Purple Martins in these few trees. Smears in the sky are more Martins flying. Buenavista Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada. 14 August 2016.

You can see several birds preening here. Evening roost around 7:30 pm, prior to the main roosting after dark. David Blais said that they start in this area but move to where the Nature Regina group was waiting for the final evening roost. From last year's observation at the roost after sunset, I notice that the birds are behaving the same here as as they do when they put up in the final roost at night: flying in and out after periods of perching, preening a lot, calling all the time, flitting their wings, and many birds flying in. The advantage is that there was enough light to take photos at 7:30 pm, while when you go under the trees after dark, it is too dense and dark and you see the unattractive belly of the birds. There were several hundred Purple Martins in these few trees. Buenavista Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada. 14 August 2016.

BV Linda smith

 

 

 

 

Evening roost around 7:30 pm, prior to the main roosting after dark. David Blais said that they start in this area but move to where the Nature Regina group was waiting for the final evening roost. From last year's observation at the roost after sunset, I notice that the birds are behaving the same here as as they do when they put up in the final roost at night: flying in and out after periods of perching, preening a lot, calling all the time, flitting their wings, and many birds flying in. The advantage is that there was enough light to take photos at 7:30 pm, while when you go under the trees after dark, it is too dense and dark and you see the unattractive belly of the birds. There were several hundred Purple Martins in these few trees. Smears in the sky are more Martins flying. Buenavista Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada. 14 August 2016.
BV IMG_0111 Fran K
BV IMG_6883 mary w

Another tree covered with Purple Martins. Notice how many birds are preening in this photo. Evening roost around 7:30 pm, prior to the main roosting after dark. David Blais said that they start in this area but move to where the Nature Regina group was waiting for the final evening roost. From last year's observation at the roost after sunset, I notice that the birds are behaving the same here as as they do when they put up in the final roost at night: flying in and out after periods of perching, preening a lot, calling all the time, flitting their wings, and many birds flying in. The advantage is that there was enough light to take photos at 7:30 pm, while when you go under the trees after dark, it is too dense and dark and you see the unattractive belly of the birds. There were several hundred Purple Martins in these few trees. Smears in the sky are more Martins flying. Buenavista Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada. 14 August 2016.

BV IMG_6854 mary w