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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


1 comment:

  1. Too bad volunteering more wasn't an option this year for me as it is something I really enjoy. Coming a second time was always a tentative thing, Never Promised. I had/have an overwhelming amount of other obligations this fall and TLBO simply couldn't fit into my schedule. Hopefully next year will be better all around.