Follow by Email

Monday, November 4, 2013

Teslin Lake - end of the season 2013

Warmer than average fall was evident in just small amount of snow on the surrounding mountains and none on the lake level!
 
And so yet another season at TLBO came to an end. There is not much to be written about the last two weeks mostly because yours truly spent a significant portion of it in bed, sick. After mid-month there were still good numbers of Bohemian Waxwings around and a few gulls were patrolling the lake. The last day, Oct 31, a family of Trumpeter Swans was seen as well as a juvenile Common Loon. Of course, the local family of Gray Jays and the usual Black-billed Magpies and Common Ravens were around and about. Small number of Common Redpolls were on the move and one flock had a Pine Siskin in the tow. One Golden Eagle was seen heading south as well.

I can boogie!

Youngsters Thayer's (front) and Herring Gull

A family of Trumpeter Swans on the cold foggy lake
 
Below are the season's raptor counts, species organized in the order of abundance. Notice that these numbers include both the birds observed flying by the observatory in migration flight as well as birds just hanging around. Bald Eagle gets the biggest gain from this as there were a few local birds present throughout the season.

Sharp-shinned Hawk       849
Red-tailed Hawk               447
Northern Harrier              299
Golden Eagle                     293
American Kestrel              178
Bald Eagle                          160
Rough-legged Hawk         126
Merlin                                   76
Osprey                                  72
Peregrine Falcon                 51
Northern Goshawk             18
Swainson's Hawk                  3
= 2572 raptors identified to species (+ 100+ unidentified ones)


Sharp-shinned Hawk was the most common raptor this season. Photo from August.
 
Finally, I'd like to thank a few people for making the season successful. First and foremost all of our financial supporters - without you there wouldn't be anyone doing anything at TLBO! The long term volunteers Abril Heredia and Sarah Coulthart put in a lot of time, day after day, and made things go so much smoother. Doug Martens provided the BIC with a comfortable accommodation once again and Ted Murphy-Kelly provided the volunteers with a cozy tent accommodation at the site and all the things one needs for day to day life in the outdoors. Shyloh van Delft for organizing a fund-raiser in Tagish in August. The Schonewille's for storing gear and Ben S and Nick Guenette for the set-up at the start of the season. And of course, all the other volunteers and visitors - the list is too long to mention everyone by name. THANK YOU everyone!

 

Parting shot - a grouse was here!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teslin Lake update - October 15


The nights are getting colder and the lake foggier
There was still a good number of passerines around early October as there were kinglets, chickadees, sparrows and even some warblers flitting in the bushes of TLBO. Unfortunately the banding season came to an unexpected halt after Oct 2nd when the promised help didn't show up. A few nets were opened every once in a while for short periods of time when visible migration was very slow and the very last banding effort was made on Oct 11 when Ted Murphy-Kelly came to help out with taking down the station. That and the following day we managed to pack the tents and all the netting related gear except for the canopy net structure. As for the birds banded, 104 more birds received some jewellery in October. Perhaps the most exciting ones were the two Northern Waterthrushes (Oct 1st and Oct 3rd, one of them staying until the 5th!) as they were the first October records for TLBO. The species is normally quite uncommon already in early September! The season 2nd Gray-cheeked and Hermit Thrushes were banded on the 2nd. The final season top five is as follows - Alder Flycatcher 770, Dark-eyed Junco 341, Yellow Warbler 333, Yellow-rumped Warbler 163 and Ruby-crowned Kinglet 125. Overall it was the second poorest year (of the full operation years) in terms of number of birds banded at TLBO. Five species were banded in record low numbers - Sharp-shinned Hawk, Hermit Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow and Common Redpoll. Three species were banded in record high numbers - Northern Flicker, Warbling Vireo and Cedar Waxwing. Other species with higher than average numbers included Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush and Dark-eyed Junco.
 

A young Northern Waterthrush banded on Oct 1st
 
Adult male Rusty Blackbird - very exciting as we normally get just youngsters
 
A happy bander (Ted Murphy-Kelly) with the last two birds of the season - a Boreal Chickadee staying here and a Wilson's Warbler on it's way to UNAM Jardin Botanico en Ciudad de Mexico (or somewhere thereabouts)!
 
Early to mid-October is normally one of the busiest and most exciting times at TLBO with visible migration and rarities. However, this year no rarities were spotted and the migration for the most part was pretty disappointing. The last big day of "dickie bird" migration was Oct 1st when nearly 1500 American Robins were counted alongside 1300 other passerines including 90 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 270 Pine Siskins and an observatory record of 296 Rusty Blackbirds! 69 Rusties on the 7th was the last high count for that species. 215 Bohemian Waxwings flew by on the 4th and about 100 roamed the area on the 15th. Usually the big thing at this time of the year are the thousands of swans passing by. This year no such thing has been seen. So far the busiest swan day was the 10th when about 800, mostly Tundra Swans,  were counted. 215 Trumpeter Swans were seen the next day and another 150 were tallied on the 15th. Other waterfowl of interest during the period included a late flight of 112 Lesser Scaup and a lone late Snow Goose on the 10th and three Harlequin Ducks on the 11th. October is typically the time of eagles as well. This year there have been very few Bald Eagles seen, perhaps because many left earlier, but it has been quite good with Golden Eagles. The highest day counts so far have been 31 on the 4th, 37 on the 5th and observatory record 86 on the stormy day of the 9th. Finally, birds behind the usual departure dates included a Bonaparte's Gull on the 5th and a Wilson's Warbler on the 12th.

 


This flock of 47 Trumpeter Swans is an exception to the rule that only Tundra Swans fly high and in big flocks

A Bohemian Waxwing enjoying Highbush Cranberries

A rather late juvenile Mew Gull on the 11th

This Orange-crowned Warbler in a Cottonwood probably wishes it was already in a Magnolia-tree instead!

Ruffed Grouse have just recently started their fall drumming season
 
Omega-3s for an Otter
 
Chris Sukha: "ahh yes, I confirm, it is a speck!" Photo Abril Heredia.
 
Rude Boy - the observatory punk-dogger

  This season's longest serving volunteer, Sarah Coulthart, left us on the 2nd. Thank you Sarah for all your help and we applaud your endurance as you now hold the observatory record for most consecutive days spent in a tent at the site! The same day saw another volunteer, a published author Chris Sukha (The Mini-Mentor Guide To Birdwatching for Beginners) leave as well. Chris had spent a full season at Mackenzie Nature Observatory in BC and after Mackenzie season ended he came and helped us out for a week. Thanks Chris for spotting all the specks in the sky!

 
Banding totals, end of banding season (the # banded since the last update in brackets):
 
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 6
Solitary Sandpiper - 2
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
American Three-toed Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 3
Western Wood-Pewee - 4
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11
Alder Flycatcher - 770
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 12
Dusky Flycatcher - 3
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 48
Black-capped Chickadee -31
Boreal Chickadee - 23 (10)
Red-breasted Nuthatch -6
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 125 (18)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2 (1)
Swainson's Thrush - 55
Hermit Thrush - 2 (1)
American Robin - 4
Varied Thrush - 5
American Pipit - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 8
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 124 (9)
Yellow Warbler - 333 (3)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 163 (13)
Townsend's Warbler - 7
Blackpoll Warbler - 87
American Redstart - 33
Northern Waterthrush - 46 (2)
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 64
Wilson's Warbler - 122 (7)
American Tree Sparrow - 19 (11)
Chipping Sparrow - 20
Savannah Sparrow - 18
Fox Sparrow - 7 (1)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 9
White-crowned Sparrow - 16
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 341 (20)
Rusty Blackbird - 14 (6)
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 5 (2)
Pine Siskin - 8
= 2577 (104) birds, 51 species

 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Teslin Lake update - September 30

In September Yukon turns Yellow!
The last third of September was very quiet time with the nets - even when we could operate them. The weather was very unsettled with lots of rain and especially wind, and on many days we had the nets open for just an hour or so and usually not all the nets either. As a result, only 107 birds were banded. 35 of those were Dark-eyed Juncos and 30 Ruby-crowned Kinglets. A Hammond's Flycatcher on the 23rd and an Alder Flycatcher on the 25th were both a little bit on the late side.
 
Most of the Bald Eagles seen as part of the record flights were immatures of various ages

One of the 51 Peregrine Falcons seen this season (a juvenile)

Ospreys were seen on most days but usually in small numbers
No rare or even uncommon birds were seen but there was lots of action in the sky especially early in the period. Most of the good flights were those of raptors. On the 21st 149 raptors were seen including a new observatory day-record of 30 Bald Eagles. The next day the raptor tally was 278 this time including 185 Sharp-shinned Hawks which also was a new day-record. Luckily most of the raptor movement was in the afternoon since in the morning we were almost overwhelmed by the flight of American Robins and other passerines. A total count for Robin/Varied Thrush (about 90% Robins) was 5900! 1700 other passerines, including identifications of 85 Bohemian Waxwings, 164 Rusty Blackbirds and 67 Pine Siskins, were also tallied and as if that wasn't enough somewhere in between we noticed almost 400 Canada Geese fly by. On the 23rd we counted 125 raptors, 800 Robins and 156 Rusty Blackbirds but the day will really be remembered from its 1025 Pacific Loons - a count far exceeding the previous record. A cold and strong northwest wind was blowing on the 24th and it brought another 253 raptors with it. Bald Eagles reached the count of 30 again while other good tallies included 118 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 46 Red-tailed Hawks. The day was also the first one of the fall with some swan movement (200) and two nice flocks of Snow Geese totalling 116 birds were seen as well. All this activity was followed by five days of pretty much complete nothingness until on the 30th birds were moving again. That day 280 raptors, including 44 Golden Eagles, 112 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 22 Rough-legged Hawks, were counted. Other big birds spotted heading south included 400 Tundra Swans and 111 Sandhill Cranes.


Pacific Loons, Pacific Loons!!

A flock of Snow Geese approaching
A small flock of Sandhill Cranes passing overhead


This late Townsend's Warbler on the 25th almost managed to slip by without being documented

On the morning of the 30th bear tracks led from the creek mouth through the banding site. This present was left at net #18!

Donald (R), a Scottish traveller, loved the site so that he spent two days with us. He had a wish list of two species, Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon, and he got to see both!
 
On the 28th we all headed to Whitehorse for the SOYBO annual get-together. It was a great party and thanks for Ted and Hollie for hosting it. The next morning we brought Abril to the airport and said good byes before heading back to TLBO. Thank you Abril for yet another great season!

The loony loon counter

Banding totals as of Sept 30 (the # banded since the last update in brackets):
 
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 6 (2)
Solitary Sandpiper - 2
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
American Three-toed Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 3
Western Wood-Pewee - 4
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11
Alder Flycatcher - 770 (1)
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 12 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher - 3
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 48
Black-capped Chickadee -31 (3)
Boreal Chickadee - 13
Red-breasted Nuthatch -6
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 107 (30)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 55
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 4
Varied Thrush - 5
American Pipit - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 8
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 115 (6)
Yellow Warbler - 330 (3)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 150 (6)
Townsend's Warbler - 7
Blackpoll Warbler - 87
American Redstart - 33
Northern Waterthrush - 44
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 64
Wilson's Warbler - 115 (11)
American Tree Sparrow - 8 (2)
Chipping Sparrow - 20
Savannah Sparrow - 18 (2)
Fox Sparrow - 6 (1)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 9
White-crowned Sparrow - 16
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 321 (35)
Rusty Blackbird - 8 (3)
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 3
Pine Siskin - 8
= 2473 (107) birds, 51 species

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Teslin Lake update - Sept 20

Male American Three-toed Woodpecker - the 1st ever banded at TLBO!
The mid-September period at TLBO was an exciting one particularly with the migration watch. The weather again wasn't our friend and so the banding totals remained rather low. However, one bird out of the 257 banded, an American Three-toed Woodpecker on the 12th, was of special interest as it was, quite surprisingly mind you, the first ever banded at TLBO! Other highlights from the nets included a Dusky Flycatcher and a latish Swainson's Thrush, both also on the 12th. The top five for the period was Dark-eyed Junco (106), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (41), Orange-crowned Warbler (21), Yellow-rumped Warbler (17) and Yellow Warbler (16).

 
1...2...3!
 
The most exciting bird of the period was a beautiful full-tailed adult Long-tailed Jaeger seen on the 11th. To everyone's surprise, the bird was spotted again on the 12th and later seen departing towards the east over the mountains instead of the west and the Pacific!
 
The longer the tail...


As the weather was turning colder more northern birds started to head south. New species for the season were Black-backed Woodpecker on the 11th, Tundra Swan and Long-tailed Duck on the 14th, Rough-legged Hawk , Glaucous Gull and Mountain Bluebird on the 18th and Northern Hawk Owl on the 19th.

 At least six Parasitic Jaegers, including two rare dark-morph ones, were seen prowling the lake on the 11th. The same day count of 29 Red-throated Loons was just three short of our day record for the species. During the second half of the period we had several busy migration days. On the 15th 235 Canada Geese flew by as well as 42 Red-tailed Hawks (70 raptors in total). Thanks to the poor visibility, low hanging clouds and strong south wind on the 18th many Pacific-bound birds like 150 Pacific Loons and 55 Thayer's Gulls were forced to fly low enough for us to spot them. The same day record tying 11 Peregrine Falcons were seen. Nine more followed the next day and six more the day after - wow! The 19th was quite a day with 5200 American Robins/Varied Thrushes and 1550 small passerines (mostly unidentified but identifications including 43 American Pipits, 53 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 114 Rusty Blackbirds)!! Also seen were 32 Northern Harriers (74 raptors in total). Finally, a jaw-dropping flock of 190 Rusty Blackbirds was foraging on the shoreline on the 20th!

Adult Thayer's Gull. Photo Abril Heredia.

A flock of Robins passing by. Photo Abril Heredia.
 
A rainy day juvenile Red-necked Grebe
 
Susan Drury (R), a volunteer of many years at Albert Creek, made her first visit to TLBO. Here she is showing the waterbirds of the lake to one of our visitors. Photo Abril Heredia.

Abril photographing specklebellies

Sky-Fox with bunny ears
  
Banding totals as of Sept 20 (the # banded since the last update in brackets):

Sharp-shinned Hawk - 4 (3)
Solitary Sandpiper - 2
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
American Three-toed Woodpecker - 1 (1)
Northern Flicker - 3
Western Wood-Pewee - 4
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11
Alder Flycatcher - 769 (8)
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 11 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher - 3 (1)
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 48
Black-capped Chickadee - 28
Boreal Chickadee - 13 (4)
Red-breasted Nuthatch -6
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 77 (41)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 55 (1)
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 4
Varied Thrush - 5
American Pipit - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 8
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 109 (21)
Yellow Warbler - 327 (16)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 144 (17)
Townsend's Warbler - 7
Blackpoll Warbler - 87 (4)
American Redstart - 33 (1)
Northern Waterthrush - 44 (1)
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 64 (9)
Wilson's Warbler - 104 (13)
American Tree Sparrow - 6 (4)
Chipping Sparrow - 20
Savannah Sparrow - 16 (2)
Fox Sparrow - 5
Lincoln's Sparrow - 9 (1)
White-crowned Sparrow - 16
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 286 (106)
Rusty Blackbird - 5 (2)
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 3
Pine Siskin - 8
= 2366 (257) birds, 51 species

Friday, September 13, 2013

Teslin Lake update - Sept 10

Nice morning view across the lake
The weather turned windy early September and with that our banding peak was cut short and slow times began. On the 2nd we banded 86 birds but otherwise most days the totals were well below 30. The biggest banding highlight was the observatory's first fall season Golden-crowned Sparrow on the 6th. Other notable birds banded included yet another Northern Flicker on the 4th, a Golden-crowned Kinglet on the 5th, two American Pipits, one each on the 6th and the 7th, and finally the season 1st Rusty Blackbirds (three so far). During the first ten days of the month 288 birds were banded 117 of which were Dark-eyed Juncos. Other common ones included Alder Flycatcher (34), Yellow Warbler (25), Yellow-rumped Warbler (22) and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (18). The current season top five is as follows: Alder Flycatcher 761, Yellow Warbler 311, Dark-eyed Junco 180, Yellow-rumped Warbler 127 and Wilson's Warbler 91.

The observatory's first fall season Golden-crowned Sparrow
 
The season 1st Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Pipit is a common bird but not caught in the nets very often

Most of the Yellow Warblers that are still around are adults, just like this female foraging in the willows by the banding table
Since the high winds have been mostly coming from the south and the temperatures have been quite high, the visually detectable fly-by migration has been fairly slow as well. There was a big movement of Greater White-fronted Geese on the 1st but the TLBO staff missed it completely as it occurred in the afternoon and evening after the site had been vacated for the day. Over 1500 were seen by Teslin residents and area fishermen combined. A few hawks and falcons, mostly Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Harriers, and American Kestrels, have been on the move but the day counts are still in the low tens. Six Merlins on the 5th was a good count for that species. Fairly good numbers of White-winged Crossbills have been on the move with counts of several tens on most mornings.

A juvenile Northern Harrier passing by the observatory

The season 1st Three-toed Woodpecker landed briefly right next to the banding table
As the lake has been going down so has the water level in our pond and now all we have left is a small mud puddle favored by Rusty Blackbirds and American Pipits and early in the month a few Solitary Sandpipers. A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope spent a few hours there on the 2nd and two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers did the same on the 5th.
 
A Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope having a lunch in the pond
 
One of the two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers was an unusually pale individual for that species
 
Young male (front) and young female (back) Rusty Blacbird
On the lake side, there has been a daily show of Parasitic Jaegers with up to four birds per day including one of the uncommon dark-morph. The two Sabine's Gulls stayed until the 5th but the biggest rarity of the whole period was a juvenile Ring-billed Gull, the first Teslin area record, that showed up on the 3rd and stayed until the 9th. A Harlequin Duck stopped by briefly in the morning of the 10th. Finally, the season first Three-toed Woodpeckers were seen on the 6th and late ones for the season were represented by an Arctic Tern on the 7th and a Common Nighthawk on the 10th.
 
A juvenile Ring-billed Gull - the first for the observatory!
 
The Ring-bill showing the upper surface of the wings and tail
 
Sarah Coulthard (L) and Gwen Baluss (R) discussing the finer nuances of Orange-crowned Warbler identification. Photo
© Abril Heredia
 
Sarah having an encounter with a Porcupine. The one with more and sharper quills gets the right-of-way on the bridge. Photo © Abril Heredia

Banding totals as of Sept 10 (the # banded since the last update in brackets):

Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Solitary Sandpiper - 2
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Northern Flicker - 3 (1)
Western Wood-Pewee - 4
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11
Alder Flycatcher - 761 (34)
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 10 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher - 2
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 48 (2)
Black-capped Chickadee - 28 (5)
Boreal Chickadee - 9 (3)
Red-breasted Nuthatch -6
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 36 (18)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 54
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 4
Varied Thrush - 5 (4)
American Pipit - 2 (2)
Cedar Waxwing - 8
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 88 (17)
Yellow Warbler - 311 (25)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 127 (22)
Townsend's Warbler - 7
Blackpoll Warbler - 83 (5)
American Redstart - 32 (1)
Northern Waterthrush - 43
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 55 (12)
Wilson's Warbler - 91 (3)
American Tree Sparrow - 2 (1)
Chipping Sparrow - 20 (2)
Savannah Sparrow - 14 (3)
Fox Sparrow - 5
Lincoln's Sparrow - 8
White-crowned Sparrow - 16 (4)
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 1 (1)
Dark-eyed Junco - 180 (117)
Rusty Blackbird - 3 (3)
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 3
Pine Siskin - 8 (1)
= 2109 (288) birds, 50 species