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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

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Teslin Lake update - Aug 31st


Water level in the end of August
The bird migration activity has picked up significantly since the last blog entry. Over the last week we've banded 735 birds, including 155 on Aug 25, 114 on Aug 26 and 217 on Aug 28 (the 2nd highest day total in fall in the observatory's history). As expected, the majority of the catch has been Alder Flycatchers (354) and Yellow Warblers (132) followed by Orange-crowned Warbler (47), Yellow-rumped Warbler (42) and Dark-eyed Junco (39) . The current top five for the season is Alder Flycatcher 727 , Yellow Warbler 286, Yellow-rumped Warbler 105, Wilson's Warbler 88, and Blackpoll Warbler 78. The most exciting bird banded was a young Magnolia Warbler on the 30th, only the 3rd for the observatory.

Young Magnolia Warbler was banded for the 2nd year in a row - are they nesting in Teslin area??
 
Young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was the star capture of our highly sophisticated canopy net

Some bigger birds have been on the move too. The 27th was a particularly good day as in the morning in rain and fog over 600 Greater White-fronted Geese were tallied and then in the afternoon when the weather cleared there was a short pulse of about 70 raptors (49 Red-tailed Hawks) heading south. The lake has hosted up to two juvenile Sabine's Gulls for a few days now and up to four different Parasitic Jaegers including one sub-adult, an age-class and plumage not often seen inland. Visible day-time passerine migration has also picked up a little. On both the 30th and the 31st over 500 Yellow-rumped Warblers (including unidentified candidates) were counted flying by. Ten fly-by Townsend's Solitaires on the 31st was a high count for that species.

TLBO, a meeting place for arctic migrants - Sabine's Gull (L) and Thayer's Gull (R)
Young Sabine's Gull has been keeping us company for a few days now
Sub-adult Parasitic Jaeger
A raft of at least 45 Red-breasted Mergansers - the biggest ever seen at the observatory!
There was some real exciting drama too on the morning of the 30th when a sub-adult Peregrine Falcon spotted our local gull flock and made a stoop for breakfast. It managed to catch a young Mew Gull but landed in water with it and for some reason released it. It was quite a show - short but action packed!
 
Peregrine darting after gulls on the shoreline

The young Mew Gull nicked by the Peregrine. Notice the wound in the thigh area.
Acting station manager Ted Murphy-Kelly enjoying after hours wiener roasting
Bander-in-Charge bands and volunteers Julie Bauer (center) and Sarah Coulthard (R) assist
 
Banding totals as of Aug 31 (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 (1)
Northern Flicker - 2
Western Wood-Pewee - 4 (4)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11 (1)
Alder Flycatcher - 727 (354)
Least Flycatcher - 6
Hammond's Flycatcher - 9
Dusky Flycatcher - 2 (1)
Northern Shrike - 1
Warbling Vireo - 46
Black-capped Chickadee - 23 (7)
Boreal Chickadee - 6
Red-breasted Nuthatch -6 (2)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 18 (7)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 54 (14)
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 4
Varied Thrush - 1 (1)
Cedar Waxwing - 8 (3)
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 71 (47)
Yellow Warbler - 286 (132)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 105 (42)
Townsend's Warbler - 7 (1)
Blackpoll Warbler - 78 (19)
American Redstart - 31 (4)
Northern Waterthrush - 43 (4)
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 43 (18)
Wilson's Warbler - 88 (16)
American Tree Sparrow - 1
Chipping Sparrow - 18 (1)
Savannah Sparrow - 11 (4)
Fox Sparrow - 5 (4)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 8 (2)
White-crowned Sparrow - 12 (4)
Dark-eyed Junco - 63 (39)
Purple Finch - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 3
Pine Siskin - 7 (2)

= 1821 (735) birds, 46 species