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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teslin Lake - the end of the season 2014

A flock of Tundra Swans approaching
Towards the end of the season the weather was warmer than average so that there was almost no snow on the ground and the pond barely froze. Even though, partly due the colder weather earlier, many of the smaller passerines had disappeared there was plenty to watch during the last two weeks of the season. Particularly prominent were the swans but redpolls and eagles kept the migration counter busy as well. The peak of the Redpolls was fairly short as the main movement started on the 12th with 700 counted and right away followed by the highest count of 4300 on the 13th. 3000 were counted on the 14th and again 700 on the 15th followed by much more moderate numbers after that. There was a good number, particularly for the time of the year, of Pine Siskins on the move with the Redpolls including the high count of 259 on the 12th. During the peak days most of the Redpolls were heading west but later on when the numbers were already smaller the majority was heading north and even northeast on the 23rd when 500 were tallied. That day 3 Hoary Redpolls  were identified from the several flocks that landed briefly. Surprisingly, after being absent for most of the season, small numbers of both species of Crossbills were seen regularly. The annual Pine Grosbeak movement was pretty slow this year with the high count of only 44 on the 17th.

One of the many flocks of Common Redpolls zipping by the point

A flock of mostly Greater Scaups flying by
Interestingly almost all the swans seen were Tundra Swans and no big movement of Trumpeters was noticed even late in the season. The biggest swan flights seen were 1100 on the 15th, 5200 on the 16th, 3200 on the 17th, and 1700 on the 22nd. On each day the biggest numbers were seen in the afternoon. The season total was impressive 16 500 Tundras. As usual there were no big raptor days this late in the season but the raptor numbers were higher than average for the time of the year. The majority of raptors were Golden Eagles, of course, including 11 on the 13th, 37 on the 17th, 26 on the 25th and 18 on the 27th, the last day of operation. The high migration counts for Bald Eagle were 8 on the 17th and 24 on the 27th. 11 Rough-legged Hawks were seen on the 16th and 14 on the 18th. 8 Northern Harriers on the 16th was a really high count for that late a date as was the count of 7 Sharp-shinned Hawks the following day too. The 6 Northern Goshawks seen on the 27th tied the station day record.

An adult and a juvenile Tundra Swan
It was almost a record poor year for Boreal Chickadees at TLBO. This one visited the point in mid-October

No real rarities were seen but an American Dipper, flying along the lakeshore on the 27th, was a new species for TLBO as was Evening Grosbeak, three of which flew by on the 15th. A shorebird looking like a Dunlin, seen on the 19th, would've also been a new species had it been positively identified as such but the views weren't sufficient enough to confirm the species. A juvenile Yellow-billed Loon was seen on three different days, two Snow Geese were seen mixed in the swan flocks, one on the 15th and the other on the 17th, and an unidentified Ptarmigan was spotted on the opposite shore on the 23rd. Birds behind the usual departure time were few but included a Greater White-fronted Goose on the 15th, a Sandhill Crane on the 17th, an Osprey and two Varied Thrushes on the 18th, a Northern Shoveler on the 23rd and a Yellow-rumped Warbler on the 27th. The last effort for owl banding on the night of the 14th was a success with 4 Boreal Owls captured.

For about a week this juvenile Yellow-billed Loon was a regular sight around the point

A hatch-year (i.e. juvenile) Boreal Owl - one of about 40 banded this year!
 Below are the season's raptor counts, species organized in the order of abundance. Notice that these numbers include both the birds observed flying by the observatory in migration flight as well as birds just hanging around. Bald Eagle gets the biggest gain from this as there were a few local birds present throughout the season.

Red-tailed Hawk            581
Sharp-shinned Hawk      570
Golden Eagle                  293
Northern Harrier             285
Rough-legged Hawk       197
Bald Eagle                       183
American Kestrel            179
Merlin                               90
Northern Goshawk           84
Osprey                              54
Peregrine Falcon              34
Swainson's Hawk             13
Gyrfalcon                           2
Turkey Vulture                   1

= 2565 (+ a number of unidentified raptors)

Probably one of the locally born Bald Eagles, this juvenile visited the gull feeding station regularly for about a month
Finally, as the final thoughts of the season, it is time to thank various people for their efforts to keep the projects going. A big thank you for all the field volunteers, particularly Sarah N├Ągl, Ariel Lenske, Gwen Baluss, Julie Bauer, Vesta Mather and Chris Sukha, for all the help you provided. Doug Martens for providing the BIC with a comfortable accomodation, Ted Murphy-Kelly for the help with all the logistics, and the Schonewilles for dealing with the station gear and data related issues. Last but not the least, thanks for all our financial supporters! See you next year!

As most already know, these blog entries are provided by BIC Jukka Jantunen. From the station managers (Ben Schonewille & Ted Murphy-Kelly), also thank you to Jukka for his exceptional dedication and attention to detail with running the station once again this year.  Your hard work does not go unnoticed - our readers may be interested to know that Jukka spent nearly 600 hours at TLBO this fall, including over 275 hours conducting the visual migration counts !