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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Teslin Lake update, September 20 2014

The colors changed quickly, in less than a week, from all green to just about all yellow!

The good bird movement continued from the early September period into this mid-September period but just for a few days. The period started with unsettled weather (meaning more rain) but quickly turned into unseasonally nice and warm weather and after the 13th pretty much all the migration came to a sudden halt. Towards the end the weather got lousy again (meaning even more rain!) but the bird movement didn't pick up at all, quite the opposite in fact. In the last five days we had four days with less than 10 birds banded!

This young Tennessee Warbler was a real surprise at the late date of Sept 16. Below two very different looking young male Sharp-shinned Hawks - the one on the left has the usual look whereas the finely striped one on the right has a pattern more associated with young Cooper's Hawk.


The banding total for the period was 234 birds with the following top five: Slate-colored Junco (51), Orange-crowned Warbler (24), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (22), Pine Siskin (22) and Yellow Warbler (20). Three new species for the season were caught: Gray Jay on the 14th, and Downy Woodpecker and Tennessee Warbler both on the 16th. The Tennessee is a very late record for the Yukon although not the latest ever. Even though they didn't make it to the top five, American Tree Sparrows entered the scene strongly early in the period and then, just like all the other birds, just disappeared. The current top five for the season is Alder Flycatcher (506), Yellow Warbler (504), Pine Siskin (297), Yellow-rumped Warbler (172) and Wilson's Warbler (163). The number of Yellow Warblers is a new season record.

Tail feather shape and pattern comparison between juvenile (L) and adult (R) Black-capped Chickadee

For some reason this young Northern Waterthrush hasn't molted (i.e. replaced) its greater coverts. This is a prime example showing how poor quality the juvenile feathers are to be this worn already at mid-September, and why the young birds need to replace those feathers before heading south.

A juvenile male Northern Harrier
There was some decent raptor movement early in the period including 137 on the 11th (American Kestrel 54, Northern Harrier 42, Merlin 8, Peregrine Falcon 4), 135 on the 12th (Sharp-shinned Hawk 60, American Kestrel 21, Peregrine Falcon 5), and 98 on the 13th (Sharp-shinned Hawk 56, American Kestrel 14, Peregrine Falcon 3). On the 12th four somewhat late Swainson's Hawks were seen as well as the season's first Rough-legged Hawk. This is the first time all three Buteo species have been seen on the same day at the observatory (incl. Red-tailed Hawk)! The same early days had decent morning movements of songbirds, primarily American Robins, Varied Thrush and Yellow-rumped Warblers but the numbers didn't climb over a couple of hundred per species until the cold morning of the 17th when over 600 thrushes (330 Robins, 70 Varied Thrush and 250ish unidentified) were counted.

This adult Horned Grebe molting into its winter-plumage has been sailing back and forth off the point for several days now.

A fly-by Common Merganser
 Other sightings of interest included a juvenile Sanderling from the 12th through the 14th, four early Mountain Bluebirds on the 14th as well as the season first Barrow's Goldeneyes, late juvenile Spotted Sandpipers and likewise a late male Purple Finch on the 16th, our earliest ever Yellow-billed Loon, a full breeding-plumaged adult, and our latest ever Olive-sided Flycatcher on the 18th, and finally the season's first Northern Hawk Owl on the 19th.

A juvenile Sanderling on the 12th

One of the flock of four Barrow's Goldeneyes on the 14th
"How many clowns fit in a VW beetle?" How about squirrels in one cavity...?

Here are the banding totals as of Sept 20 including birds banded as part of the owling effort (the number in brackets is the number banded since the last blog entry):

Sharp-shinned Hawk - 14 (6)
Solitary Sandpiper - 1
Wilson's Snipe - 1
Boreal Owl - 21 (5)
Belted Kingfisher - 9 (1)
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (1)
Western Wood-Pewee - 4 (2)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 3
Alder Flycatcher - 506 (12)
Least Flycatcher - 2
Hammond's Flycatcher - 8 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher - 4 (1)
Warbling Vireo - 12
Gray Jay - 1 (1)
Black-capped Chickadee - 15 (2)
Boreal Chickadee - 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 67 (22)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 10
Swainson's Thrush - 49
American Robin - 9
Varied Thrush - 3
Tennessee Warbler - 1 (1)
Orange-crowned Warbler - 149 (24)
Yellow Warbler - 504 (20)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 172 (16)
Townsend's Warbler - 10
Blackpoll Warbler - 61 (1)
American Redstart - 25
Northern Waterthrush - 48
Common Yellowthroat - 79 (8)
Wilson's Warbler - 163 (11)
American Tree Sparrow - 16 (14)
Chipping Sparrow - 15
Savannah Sparrow - 17
Fox Sparrow - 16 (3)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 8 (1)
White-crowned Sparrow - 15 (3)
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 1
Slate-coloured Junco - 130 (51)
Rusty Blackbird - 9 (5)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2
Purple Finch - 3
White-winged Crossbill - 2
Common Redpoll - 1
Pine Siskin - 297 (22)

Total = 2490 (234) birds of 46 species

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