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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Teslin Lake update, October 10 2014

A mixed flock of Tundra and Trumpeter Swans passing the point

The end of September marks the end of the standard banding season but every year we continue with non-standard banding effort as long as we have adequate personnel or the weather turns too harsh to band. This year neither mattered as there simply were no birds along the net-lanes in early October. Our longest serving volunteer of the season, Sarah N├Ągl, moved on and continued her adventures on the 6th and Chris Sukha who came up from Mackenzie banding station headed back down the highway on the 8th. The weather was unsettled to say the least and we received snow on a few occasions early in the month. I didn't even check for this blog entry but I think with the little effort the weather allowed for us we were able to catch and band a whopping three birds!

It may well be that the same Horned Grebe has spent almost a month by TLBO. In that time the appearance has changed quite a bit as it has now molted into the winter plumage.


This Gray-cheeked Thrush foraged openly on the beach in the afternoon of Oct 1st
 No birds in the nets did not mean no birds period. The month started with a howling northwest wind and snow that, on the 1st, brought us so far the best flight of the season. Early morning many flocks of swans, cranes and ducks disappeared into the low hanging clouds and the strong wind kept us off the usual watch site at the tip forcing us to seek shelter from the south side shore where the visibility isn't quite the same as from the tip. In spite of the difficulties caused by the weather we counted about 3800 Tundra Swans, 800 ducks of various species, 250 Sandhill Cranes in many small flocks and over 400 raptors (Red-tailed Hawk 189, Golden Eagle 93, Sharp-shinned Hawk 64, Rough-legged Hawk 28 and Merlin 15). Both the number of Golden Eagles and of Merlins is a new one day record for the observatory! Other sightings of interest that day were also a record count of 48 Canvasbacks, 169 Snow Geese, the season 1st Snow Bunting and a Gray-cheeked Thrush that appeared on the beach in the afternoon looking for some warmth in the sun that had also appeared by then.

The heavy snowfall on the 9th was apparent in the accumulation on the back of this juvenile Thayer's Gull!
On the 9th, both this Lapland Longspur (above) and the American Pipit (below) were foraging on the about one foot wide bare belt along the shore that was kept snow free by the waves.



The next few days didn't offer much excitement. Two Mountain Bluebirds stopped at the tip briefly on the 3rd and 40 Canvasbacks and 15 Golden Eagles were seen on the 4th. On the 7th there was again some movement but nothing like on the 1st. That day 1200 swans were tallied, again mostly Tundras but this time also a good number (130) of Trumpeters mixed in too. Many flocks of swans were only heard as it was snowing heavily for about half of the day! After the snow stopped over 100 raptors were counted also, including Sharp-shinned Hawk 29, Golden Eagle 26, Red-tailed Hawk 24 and Rough-legged Hawk 20. Among the raptors there was one southbound Northern Hawk Owl. 400 more swans were seen on the 10th but other than that the visible migration was slow after the 7th. The most exciting bird of the period was an adult Black-legged Kittiwake that was seen just before a major snowfall started on the 9th and again on the 10th constituting the 2nd record for TLBO and only the 3rd fall and overall about the 7th record for the southern Yukon!

A distant, heavily cropped, document shot of the Kittiwake

A family of Tundra Swans landing at the creek mouth for a couple of minutes breather.

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