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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Teslin Lake update - Aug 23

Opening day water level
Teslin Lake Bird Observatory opened for the 2013 fall season on the 25th of July. In June the lake water level went higher than on any other year during the last six years we've been occupying the site. In fact, for the first time the water went well over the banding site! However, by the opening it was low enough that rubber boots were only needed for checking parts of two nets and thanks to the very dry first half of August with its +30˚C temperatures it kept going down very quickly. Now most of the usual sandbars are exposed already, somewhat ahead of the average.

The sunrise of all the sunrises!
 As for birds banded, it has been the slowest start of the season in the station's history. The 1,000 bird mark was reached Aug 22, about five days behind the average. Probably mostly due to the very consistent weather conditions the daily banding totals have been remarkably stable without any really big days or any really dead days. Alder Flycatchers, our bread and butter as the banding totals go, have been banded in average numbers but most warblers are below the average. The most positive surprise has been the strong occurrence of Warbling Vireo which has already more than doubled the previous record! We've also been treated with five Cedar Waxwings, a whole family of them, ten Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and two Northern Flickers. Surprising captures for July were a Northern Shrike and an American Tree Sparrow, both in full juvenal plumage perhaps indicating nesting somewhere nearby. The current top five is as follows: Alder Flycatcher 373, Yellow Warbler 154, Wilson's Warbler 72, Yellow-rumped Warbler 63, and Blackpoll Warbler 59.

A full juvenal-plumaged American Tree Sparrow was one of the big surprises of the first week of operation
Juvenile Northern Shrike showing it's menacing looking bill
If it has been slow with banding the same can also be said about other observations. Besides the local Bald Eagles and such just a few raptors have been seen in the last few days. Likewise, the first few flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese and Thayer's Gulls have passed by the observation site.  A fly-by Smith's Longspur on Aug 8 has been the rarest bird observed so far while other less regular sightings have included two juvenile American Golden-Plovers and a trio of Stilt Sandpipers. Perhaps the most entertaining birds of the season have been our local bird families of Spotted Sandpiper, Arctic Tern and Cedar Waxwing.

Baby Cedar Waxwing pretending to be a stick
Adult Spotted Sandpiper looking over it's young from a perch by the beach
Adult Arctic Tern feeding young
Fresh juvenile American Golden-Plover

Chipmunk who thinks he is Ian Anderson

This season's long-term volunteers Sarah Coulthard (L) and Abril Heredia (R) extracting a Blackpoll and a Yellow Warbler from a net

Bander-In-Charge Jukka Jantunen (L) and young punk Nick Guenette (R) counting birds migrating by the site
Juvenile male Sharp-shinned Hawk migrating by the site

Visitor from overseas, Jarmo Pirhonen of Finland, recording bird calls

 Banding totals as of Aug 23:
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Solitary Sandpiper - 2
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Northern Flicker - 2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 10
Alder Flycatcher - 373
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 9
Dusky Flycatcher - 1
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 46
Black-capped Chickadee - 16
Boreal Chickadee - 6
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 11
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 40
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 4
Cedar Waxwing - 5
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 24
Yellow Warbler - 154
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 63
Townsend's Warbler - 6
Blackpoll Warbler - 59
American Redstart - 27
Northern Waterthrush - 39
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 25
Wilson's Warbler - 72
American Tree Sparrow - 1
Chipping Sparrow - 17
Savannah Sparrow - 7
Fox Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 6
White-crowned Sparrow - 8
Dark-eyed Junco - 24
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 3
Pine Siskin - 5
= 1086 birds, 42 species