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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Teslin Lake - end of the season

In spite of the beauty of the scene, it is not easy to count migration when there is no visibility!
The second half of October had some really nice bird moments but also lots of very slow times especially when it got really cold. The last of the main swan movement happened right after mid-month. On the 16th 930 swans were counted and on the 19th the last pulse of the season brought at least 1060 swans by the observatory. What was surprising was the high number of Tundra Swans as typically the later flights are predominantly Trumpeters. At the same time there was a good movement of Golden Eagles as 34 were counted on the 16th and 26 on the 17th. The 19th was a mixed raptor bag day with a few of almost every expected species seen including a surprise count of 11 Sharp-shinned Hawks.
Adult Golden Eagle
A young Tundra swan paid a visit to our young Glaucous Gull. They seemed like old friends..

A few flocks of Bohemian Waxwings darted by during the last week of the season
After that the temperatures plummeted first below the -10 mark, then quickly below -15 and the morning of the 29th was the coldest with -21 degrees. Not really a typical October temperature! The birds all but disappeared except for the hardy species like Snow Bunting, Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll and of course the Ravens and Magpies. A few stragglers of this and that were spotted like the odd American Robin and Varied Thrush, the season’s only (!!) Mountain Bluebird, and a few lingering Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. The lake was very quiet as well and once it got cold, on most mornings, there was no visibility anyway. One juvenile of each, Pacific Loon, Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe, stayed almost till the end of the season as did our faithful Glaucous Gull. A Gyrfalcon was seen on the 21st. A record number of Northern Goshawks were seen flying by as well but the highlight of the end of the season was the good flight of Bald Eagles. About 70, more than the season total last year, were seen during the last two weeks with high counts of 11 on the 19th, 10 on the 26th and 14 on the 28th.

Glaucous Gull in almost a biblical pose

Several Pine Grosbeaks spent some time at the observatory browsing willow buds

Snow Buntings on the frozen shore
After the observers have left for the winter only the Ravens remain...
And so the TLBO 2012 fall season came to an end on a day when it almost felt like spring again after a brutal cold snap. We would once again like to thank everyone who helped at the station with banding, observations, visual counts and all the practical things. While the list of individuals is too long to list here there are a few that do deserve a special mention. Doug Martens for providing the main staff with a comfortable accommodation, Ted Murphy-Kelly for providing the volunteers with an accommodation and helping with volunteers and gear, and last but definitely not least Abril Heredia who not only volunteered at the station and helped with other bird counts also bravely put up with yours truly for her entire stay of over two months. Thank you everyone!
A cool ice dam in the creek
The parting shot

All photos ©Jukka Jantunen

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