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We were greeted this morning by much clearer views of the Niuts, to the delight of Collin who so far had not had the pleasure of seeing them due to the thick smoke yesterday. It was another Thrush-filled day with even more Swainson’s Thrush around than usual as we detected 33 over the course of the morning including the 11 we caught and banded. We also banded our first Purple Finch of the season after detecting them in small numbers daily since the start of the season.

A few more season firsts graced us with their presence as we saw a Northern Harrier hunting over the SW corner of the field. Unfortunately we don’t have our “harrier net” open yet as we are still awaiting the completion of a Cedar Waxwing nest that is located in the bush right where we put one of the net poles. A check-in on them yesterday showed at least 4 young about four days old, so they should be out by next week. A little later in the morning we also heard a Steller’s Jay calling from across the Homathko.

Sachi once again productive census tallying 44 species and spotting our first three Northern Shovelers of the season on the lagoon along with the Northern Pintail from yesterday. Nearby he got the resident adult Cooper’s Hawk that has been hanging out near the end of the lake.110889121

Back at the station an empty net round post-census allowed me to go up to the oxbow lake to get some observations. Along the way I spotted three Olive-sided Flycatchers and heard a singing Cassin’s Vireo. The oxbow itself was devoid of birds.

We had another busier than average day of banding on the heels of yesterday’s season high. Today we banded a respectable 39 birds including two “Oregon” Juncos and a duo of hatch-year male Western Tanagers that were side-by-side in net 6. Wilson’s Warblers are becoming more numerous and a season-high 4four hit our nets today. To finish off the morning we again had a little push of action in the nets with 10 birds caught in the final two rounds.

On a mammal note, we saw our first Grizzly Bears of the season yesterday on our way back from checking out a couple of the lakes at the north end of the valley. Two young ones (2-3 year olds?) ran across the road in front of us not far from where they were seen by volunteers Doug and Cindy a week or so ago.

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 11 1
Song Sparrow 6 1
Wilson’s Warbler 4
Warbling Vireo 3
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Yellow Warbler 3
Oregon Junco 2 1
Common Yellowthroat 2
Western Tanager 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Purple Finch 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Cedar Waxwing 1

Birds Banded 39
Species Banded 12
Birds Recapped 5
Species Recapped 5
Species on Census 44
Species Recorded 64
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 383
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A Wave of WAVIs

First off, let me start by welcoming Collin who joined us first thing this morning after a long drive up from Oregon yesterday evening. He is going to be helping us out at the station for next couple of weeks.

It was our coldest morning yet at 4 degrees and the veil of smoke while still present was lessened slightly as after two days we could finally make out the faint outlines of both the Potato and the Niuts mountain ranges. Banding started off slow with only a handful of birds caught in the first couple of rounds. As seems to be the case bird activity peaked during the net rounds while I was on census. Now that Collin has arrived these busy rounds are a little less hectic as there is an extra set of hands available to help with banding. Bird activity and subsequent capture in our nets has tended to peak during census (1.5 hours after opening) and near closing (6 hours after opening). Today the birds did not disappoint as net 6 caught 10 birds and net 14 caught 14 birds for a total of 24 birds on the final net round!

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A snapshot of the delightful surprise “Jackpot” at net 14 during the closing round.

This is a good example of why net 14 was nicknamed “Jackpot” last season as it is not very consistent round to round but tends to catch multiple birds from mixed flocks at times. We banded two season firsts in this end of day bonanza, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Pine Siskin (See below). All this excitement lead to our biggest day of banding this season with 48 birds banded and 9 recaptures!

Our visiting Nashville Warbler made his third appearance of the season today and was obliging enough to provide me with unobstructed views of his vibrant plumage. While on census I both heard and saw my first Olive-sided Flycatcher of the season. It was singing its unmistakable “Quick-three- beers” song which always reminds me of the subalpine forests of the Kootenays where both Avery and I grew up. There is a pond just north of the lake which continues to have the same flock of Mallards and consistently a new species of duck every day. Today’s new waterfowl species was a pair of Northern Pintails which is our first of the year at the station. Avery also had another detection of a Solitary sandpiper while doing net rounds with Collin.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 13 1
Swainson’s Thrush 6 1
American Redstart 6
Common Yellowthroat 4 2
Willow Flycatcher 3
Northern Waterthrush 3
Song Sparrow 3 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 1
Pine Siskin 1

Birds Banded 48
Species Banded 15
Birds Recapped 9
Species Recapped 7
Species on Census 46
Species Recorded 60
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 344

We arrived at the station to low fog over the fields and no sign of the Niuts or Potato Range due to the continuing dense smoke. It was the coolest morning yet, which likely accounted for the fog, at just 5C. Despite the low visibility it felt it could be a good day and we were not disappointed. We got off to a nice start with the continuing Gray Catbird chattering at us on opening net round.

Things started heating up birdwise around the time Sachi left on census. As I went off on a net round some calling Red-winged Blackbirds flew overhead and a few moments later a couple more blackbirds came over, the calls of these were a bit different though, as was their shape. I put my binoculars on them and lo and behold, two Yellow-headed Blackbirds! This was my personal first for the the Tatlayoko Valley and represents the 4th record for TLBO. As Sachi was still nearby he got to see them as well. Also overhead we had a flock of 15 Herring Gulls heading south and at least seven Black Swifts foraging low, presumably due to the smoke. As he continued on census Sachi saw the Nashville Warbler again, in a mixed flock near the outhouse.

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A row of birds in bags after a busy net round

In the nets things started getting busy as I caught 23 birds in the three net rounds that Sachi was on census. Most were the usual suspects, including several more Swainson’s Thrush, but I did catch a one eyed Wilson’s Warbler (it had a somewhat recent looking eye injury, likely a puncture of some sort) that against the odds seemed to be in normal body condition as well as our second Red-winged Blackbird of the season.

Meanwhile, Sachi was having a barnstormer of a census and he totalled a whopping 49 species, quite possibly a station record. He got pretty much all of the regular species as well as our first Killdeer of the season at the lagoon along with four Green-winged Teal.

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A hatch-year male MacGillivray’s Warbler

As the morning wore on the numbers of birds in the nets dropped off until around 10:30 when we had a massive flock pass through the trees around the station. They spent around half an hour foraging in the area and amongst the ~40 Cedar Waxwings and ~15 Warbling Vireos were a couple goodies such as a Cassin’s Vireo, Townsend’s Warbler and a beautiful adult male MacGillivray’s Warbler that treated us to a brief flightsong. As I was watching this flock Sachi had our first 2 Wood Ducks of the season on the river.

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A non-bird; this Green Comma must have still been quite cool as it allowed me to approach close enough for this pic

After net closing we did a little vegetation management, clipping the tops off the Willows and Alders on the south side of net 16, part of our seasonal management of the vegetation levels around a few of the nets that are in the earlier successional stage shrubbery along the Homathko.

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 7 2
Warbling Vireo 5
American Redstart 5
Northern Waterthrush 3
Yellow Warbler 3
Song Sparrow 3 2
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Cedar Waxwing 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1

Birds Banded 33
Species Banded 12
Birds Recapped 10
Species Recapped 7
Species on Census 49
Species Recorded 64
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 296

We awoke this morning to find the valley thickly blanketed in smoke. Both the Niuts and the Potato mountains were invisible behind the enveloping curtain of smoke. This added a new variable to our day as neither of us had any idea of how this would affect the bird diversity and numbers at the station.

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The view from the station at net opening and closing, note the change in visibility.

The smoke may have had an affect on diversity. First off, our flock of Cedar Waxwings had dwindled from 50-60 individuals strong to 15 or so. That said we cannot be certain if the smoke or changes in food availability are the cause. Right off the bat while on net rounds Avery and I were treated to two first of the year birds for the station; a Long-billed Curlew and a Solitary Sandpiper. Curlews have attempted to breed in the valley before but we do not know the extent of their success. Later, while on census I saw a mixed flock of Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows mobbing a Cooper’s Hawk in the field south of the station. At the north end of the lake our daily resident adult Bald Eagle was replaced by an immature one. The Gray Catbird made two surprise appearances at both net 18, and net 6 while avoiding capture.

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Our hatch year Lazuli Bunting.

Banding had an even distribution of the usual suspects with the highlight being a a hatch year Lazuli Bunting! The warblers were our top banded species today consisting of Wilson’s warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat and MacGilliary’s Warbler. Like yesterday there was a big push on our final net round which let to six birds captured bringing our total from 14 to 20 and an opportunity for me to band some more birds.

Before closing Avery had a run in with the mother black bear and her cub. This is the second time that we have encountered them at the station and hopefully the last. She was much less aggressive than the first encounter and instead took off south into the bush which is encouraging as she may begin to avoid the station in the future.

The smoke is still thick and hemming us in. Our cameras are unable to capture the quality of the light as it has looked like near dusk for several hours now. Until tomorrow.

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Species Band Recap
Northern Waterthrush 3 2
Common Yellowthroat 3
Wilson’s Warbler 3
Swainson’s Thrush 2 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2
Song Sparrow 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Alder Flycatcher 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
Lazuli Bunting 1

Birds Banded 20
Species Banded 11
Birds Recapped 3
Species Recapped 2
Species on Census 35
Species Recorded 51
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 263

We had another day of high diversity equalling yesterday’s season high of 61 Species over the course of the morning. The weather was pretty much identical to yesterday as well though it started a couple degrees cooler and the increase of wind around 10:30 was less drastic. The day started quite slow without the recent flock of Cedar Waxwings roostinga near net 14 on opening round and few birds singing. We were on course for a slow day in the nets as well but fortunately two busier net round in the final hour boosted our numbers to a respectable 29 banded and 5 recaptures. The seven birds caught on closing round provided Sachi with an opportunity to gain some ground on me in the birds banded column! In keeping with the season to date Swainson’s Thrush were the most banded bird today followed by American Redstart and Warbling Vireo. We also caught our first Hammond’s Flycatcher and “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco, a juvenile still in it’s streaky plumage, of the season as well as our second “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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A juvenile Oregon Junco, our first of the season

Despite the seeming decrease in birds in our net for the better part of the morning there were still quite a few birds around and both Yellow and Wilson’s Warblers were notably more common than previous. One mixed species flock moving along the Homathko had 8 Yellow Warblers along with a couple Wilson’s Warblers and Warbling Vireos.

There were two Lazuli Buntings around the banding lab mid-morning as w

ell, just the second sighting of the season and my personal first of the year. Sachi had the good fortune of seeing a two Townsend’s Warblers and a Cassin’s Vireo on his way back from census. Census itself was a bit slower as well but Sachi did note our first Ring-necked Duck of the season on the lagoon.

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Getting some observations during a slow mid-morning

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 7 1
American Redstart 5 2
Warbling Vireo 5
Northern Waterthrush 2 1
Cedar Waxwing 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 1
Oregon Junco 1
Common Yellowthroat 1

Birds Banded 29
Species Banded 12
Birds Recapped 5
Species Recapped 4
Species on Census 36
Species Recorded 61
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 243

To switch up our afternoon routine yesterday, Avery and I decided that we would go up to Eagle lake to have a look for the Arctic Terns which have nested there in the past and American White Pelicans which were seen by Doug and Cindy while on an outing after volunteering. The Tatlayoko Valley’s late afternoon wind which consistently blows up  from the south forced us to wait until after dinner to set out on our adventure. The highlight of the drive was a family of four Spruce Grouse (A mother and 3 young). Once at Eagle lake Terns and Pelicans were nowhere to be seen. We were however treated to a mixed flock of about 100 shorebirds. The flock was mainly comprised of Least, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, along with 3 Semipalmated Plovers and a single Baird’s Sandpiper mixed in. Other notables were a Bonaparte’s Gull feeding along the shore and a Sandhill Crane circling overhead.

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Yours truly and Avery’s shadow scanning through shorebirds at Eagle lake.

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Our first Least Flycatcher!

Back at the station, today was yet another beautiful day like all those before it with a slightly higher starting temperature of 10 degrees C. We reached our 200th banded bird of the season which ended up being a Warbling Vireo. We banded our first Spotted Towhee, Least Flycatcher and Red-winged Blackbird of the season as well! The Waxwings were also very active around our nets leading to seven captures which was only one less than today’s top banded species, you guessed it, Swainson’s Thrush!

Between banding and observations today was our highest diversity day with 61 species detected. We also both observed what looked to be our first long-tailed weasel at TLBO which adds a new mammal to our mental station list and is slightly less exciting than a mama bear and cubs but more exciting than a herd of cattle.

Finally I will leave you with our morning view of the Niuts which corroborates the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

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The ever majestic Niuts.

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 8 1
Cedar Waxwing 7
Warbling Vireo 3
Common Yellowthroat 3
Alder Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1 1
American Redstart 1 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Song Sparrow 1 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1

Birds Banded 29
Species Banded 12
Birds Recapped 6
Species Recapped 5
Species on Census 42
Species Recorded 61
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 214

 

It was a couple degrees warmer at opening this morning and this translated into bird activity in the nets right off the bat. Before we could get banding though Sachi was detained at the banding lab by an agitated momma Black Bear doing her jaw-popping warning as her cub ran up a nearby tree. After giving them a few minutes to settle down and vacate the area he joined me at net 14 (after getting his warning, I cut across the field to net 14 so as to not bother the bears and start on our first net round). Here we already had four birds including a young male Rufous Hummingbird. This net would indeed live up to its nickname – “Jackpot” – as it caught a good portion of our birds today and there were a lot of Cedar Waxwings, Warbling Vireos and other species around the net most of the morning. In later net rounds we were to catch our first Savannah Sparrow, Audubon’s Warbler and two Vesper Sparrows of the season in Jackpot! Keeping with the theme of season firsts, we also banded our first two Western Tanagers of the season.

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Our first of two Vesper Sparrows banded today

Sachi had a productive census tallying a season-high 38 species including our first Northern Rough-winged Swallow of the season. Before he left he thought he heard a Nashville Warbler and indeed as I was extracting a couple Yellow Warblers out of Net 1 the Nashville was foraging around on the opposite side of the trail. We record one or two Nashville Warblers most years but it is always a treat to see them here. The best was yet to come though as Sachi then picked out an Eastern Kingbird perched on a snag near net 14! After snapping a couple distant pics with his phone it unfortunately flew off before I could get there with my point-and-shoot. This is just the fourth record of this species for TLBO!

After a steadily busy morning the folks haying the field returned around 9:50 to cut the last section, right up against most of our nets. This disturbance coupled with the increased heat I think doubled up to give us exactly zero birds in the nets from this point until the closing net round when we finally caught our 40th bird of the day and 11th Swainson’s Thrush. We used the slow period to get some obs and do a little cleanup around the station and some veg trimming by net 6.

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The Southwest corner of the field post-haying

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 11
Yellow Warbler 5
Northern Waterthrush 4 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Song Sparrow 2 1
Cedar Waxwing 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
American Redstart 2
Vesper Sparrow 2
Western Tanager 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Warbling Vireo 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1

Birds Banded 40
Species Banded 15
Birds Recapped 3
Species Recapped 2
Species on Census 38
Species Recorded 56
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 186