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Friday, September 11, 2015

Teslin Lake update - September 10, 2015

An adult Bald Eagle watches the world from atop of a spruce tree

The weather was very unsettled early in the period with rain and cold north winds. The surrounding mountains got lots of snow which did mostly melt away. The rain combined from this and the last period was enough to bring the lake up to about the same it was at the start of the season and our pond actually has a lot more water now than at the start - something we've never seen before! Towards the end of the period we had some nicer weather, even some sun, and the owling crew was fortunate to enjoy an amazing display of northern lights on the night of Sept 8th/9th.

Fresh snow blanketed the surrounding mountains, even the lower ones!
Banding remained very busy and, even though we lost one complete and most of three other mornings to weather, we banded a total of 1023 birds. Those lost days were compensated by high numbers on days when we were able to operate, including 201 banded on the 4th and 231 on the 7th. Four new species were added for the season: Golden-crowned Kinglet on the 5th, American Tree Sparrow on the 3rd, Golden-crowned Sparrow on the 7th and Rusty Blackbird on the 3rd. 29 American Tree Sparrows banded on the 7th was an unprecedented influx this early in the season. The period top five was Yellow Warbler 218, Orange-crowned Warbler 142, Wilson's Warbler 126, Yellow-rumped Warbler 105, and Alder Flycatcher 97. The current season top five is Alder Flycatcher 1050, Yellow Warbler 511, Wilson's Warbler 304, Yellow-rumped Warbler 242, and Orange-crowned Warbler 241. The current season total is the highest for the date in the observatory's history. During the period five species (Alder Flycatcher, American Pipit, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Savannah Sparrow) reached a new season record. Of course, the most remarkable of these is the now over 1000 Alder Flycatchers!!

Alder Flycatcher #1028!!
The season 1st Golden-crowned Kinglet was a scruffy-looking young male

 No real rarities were seen or banded but the first two days of September were great migration days. On the 1st 761 raptors were counted for a new observatory one day record. 588 of those were Red-tailed Hawks including one of subspecies abieticola, the 1st positive ID of the taxon for the observatory, and one nearly completely white leucistic one! Other raptors on the move that day included the season 1st Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier 87, Swainson's Hawk 32 and Peregrine Falcon 12. On the 2nd, further 367 raptors were seen including Red-tailed Hawk 204, Northern Harrier 64, Sharp-shinned Hawk 50, Swainson's Hawk 4, and American Kestrel 37. The Swainson's Hawk season total is now over 100 - more than four times the previous highest season total!! 

This almost all white Red-tailed Hawk was a most unusual sight!

A juvenile female Northern Harrier

During the cold and wet weather many migrants were foraging along the shore just like this young Say's Phoebe

Other birds heading south on those days included 906 Sandhill Cranes on the 1st and 859 on the 2nd, and 70 Rusty Blackbirds on the 1st and 53 on the 2nd. These numbers are unusually high for both species at this time of the year. Unusual sightings included two somewhat late juvenile Arctic Terns, an American Golden Plover, and an Upland Sandpiper on the 1st, and the season 1st Glaucous Gull and a Baird's Sandpiper on the 2nd. Later on the pace quieted significantly and no high counts of anything were made but naturally the odd interesting sighting was made. On the 3rd a late Cliff Swallow was seen flying south and the season first group of Golden-crowned Kinglets foraged in a spruce top visible from the banding spot. The season 1st Three-toed Woodpecker was seen on the 7th and a Sanderling, possibly the same juvenile, was seen both on the 7th and on the 9th. 

Baird's Sandpipers are not often seen on our rocky shoreline even if it is a common migrant on mudfalts
The second year Common Loons like this one are not often seen in the northern interior. Most of them spent the first two years of their lives on the wintering grounds.
Not all the exciting things with wings are birds. Here a female Zigzag Darner.


The banding totals as of Sept 10 (the number in brackets indicates the number banded since the previous blog entry):
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 11 (2)
Solitary Sandpiper - 3
Belted Kingfisher - 6
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (1)
Olive-sided Flycatcher -2
Western Wood-Pewee - 4 (2)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 11
Alder Flycatcher - 1050 (97)
Least Flycatcher - 4
Hammond's Flycatcher -16 (6)
Dusky Flycatcher - 2 (1)
Say's Phoebe - 2
Warbling Vireo - 8 (1)
Gray Jay - 1
Common Raven - 1
Black-capped Chickadee -27 (3)
Boreal Chickadee - 49 (41)
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 8
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 87 (56)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 6 (4)
Swainson's Thrush - 66 (7)
Hermit Thrush - 4 (2)
American Robin - 3 (1)
American Pipit - 5 (4)
Tennessee Warbler -7 (1)
Orange-crowned Warbler - 241 (142)
Yellow Warbler - 511 (218)
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 242 (105)
Townsend's Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 98 (28)
American Redstart - 33 (6)
Northern Waterthrush - 52 (7)
Common Yellowthroat - 67 (32)
Wilson's Warbler - 304 (126)
American Tree Sparrow - 40 (40)
Chipping Sparrow - 28 (3)
Savannah Sparrow - 35 (14)
Fox Sparrow - 21 (15)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 27 (6)
White-crowned Sparrow - 11 (2)
Dark-eyed Junco - 68 (40)
Rusty Blackbird - 7 (7)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
Common Redpoll - 5 (4)

= 3180 (1023) birds of 47 (4) species

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