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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Teslin Lake update - August 20, 2015

A fleet of Common Loons off the point

Teslin Lake Bird Observatory opened the 2015 fall season on Jul 26. Unlike last year there was plenty of exposed shoreline already at the start due to low snow pack last winter and a fairly dry summer. Unfortunately the dryness has since come to an end and in the last three weeks  we've had exactly one day when it didn't rain at all. Luckily most of the rain has come in the afternoons and we haven't lost very much of operation time. However, it has been tough for our volunteers as they've often been confined to indoors or their tents after the work due to some pretty heavy rain. This year we have two volunteers, Hélène Dion-Phenix and Francis Bordeleau-Martin, from Quebec for the whole season. Allyn Esau from Edmonton, Alberta, has been with us almost from the start, Gwen Baluss from Juneau, Alaska, did her usual and much appreciated four day stint last week, and quite a number of other volunteers have been helping out particularly on the weekends.

Hélène Dion-Phenix banding a Ruby-crowned Kinglet

This young male Yellow-rumped Warbler was the 1000th bird banded this fall season

 The banding has been quite good and steady, and the season total 1218 is the second highest for the date in the observatory's history. The current top 5 is as follows: Alder Flycatcher 548, Yellow Warbler 156, Wilson's Warbler 101, Yellow-rumped Warbler 79, and Blackpoll Warbler 49. Some of the banding highlights have included an Olive-sided Flycatcher on Jul 27 (only the 2nd for fall banding), a Say's Phoebe on Aug 14 (the 1st since 2010), a Common Raven on Aug 18 (the 3rd ever), and an American Pipit on Aug 13.

This Olive-sided Flycatcher was only the 2nd ever banded in fall at TLBO

Say's Phoebe is a fairly common migrant through the site but not often banded. The previous one was in 2010.

Male (L) and female (R) Red-breasted Nuthatch

So far we've had two sightings of rare birds this fall. The observatory's 2nd and the Yukon's 5th record of Black Turnstone, a juvenile, was seen on the south beach on Aug 12 and the observatory's 1st record of Short-billed Dowitcher, also a juvenile, spent Aug 16 to 18 in the pond giving great views to everyone.

This juvenile Black Turnstone was only about the 5th record for the Yukon
Juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher photographed on the first morning (Aug 16) of its three day stay

The visual migration counts have revealed very little movement of bigger birds. There have been several flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese, the first ones very early in August and definitely ahead of the expected schedule, and one flock of nine Sandhill Cranes on Aug 13, also very early. Very few raptors have been on the move but an adult male Peregrine Falcon on Aug 15 put up quite a show and in the end captured an Arctic Tern. Other observations of interest have been daily Red-throated Loons and local Merlins, the first few Thayer's Gulls in mid-August, early sightings of Northern Shrike on Aug 6 and Black-backed Woodpecker on Aug 17, and a few small groups of Boreal Chickadees in the past week perhaps indicating a beginning of movement.

A female Red-breasted Merganser with her little ones

A Blackpoll Warbler still partially in juvenile plumage

Of the non-feathered friends of ours There must be more than ten Red Squirrels in the area and a few Least Chipmunks are chucking away on most mornings.  Porcupines have been present almost daily providing us with endless entertainment. A Black-tailed Weasel, or Ermine (your pick), has visited the banding table area a few times. Luckily it hasn't caused any issues at the nets.


So cute, so deadly

The banding totals as of Aug 20:

Sharp-shinned Hawk - 6
Solitary Sandpiper - 3
Belted Kingfisher - 4
Olive-sided Flycatcher - 1
Western Wood-Pewee - 2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 8
Alder Flycatcher - 548
Least Flycatcher - 3
Hammond's Flycatcher - 4
Say's Phoebe - 1
Warbling Vireo - 5
Common Raven - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 12
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 20
Swainson's Thrush - 28
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 2
American Pipit - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 4
Orange-crowned Warbler - 31
Yellow Warbler - 156
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 79
Townsend's Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 49
American Redstart - 19
Northern Waterthrush - 34
Common Yellowthroat - 19
Wilson's Warbler - 101
Chipping Sparrow - 25
Savannah Sparrow - 14
Fox Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 11
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1

= 1218 birds of 36 species