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Archive for August, 2009

31 August

If I skipped today’s blog posting you wouldn’t have missed anything. It was like a pin dropping onto a hay bale out there today, for the silence and the futility of finding a bird amid the endless tangles of alder. We did, however, get some visitors from the Nemiah Valley, however they too were graced with a substandard number of birds (zero to be exact). Arriving at 1pm didn’t help their cause, but up until that time we had only banded 14 birds.

Cindy has arrived and will no doubt bring some good birds for tomorrow and if not we’ll ship her back to Kamloops. Just kidding!

Banded: 14 of 8 species

Recapped: 6 of 4 species

Census (by Andrew): 26 spp.

ET: 41spp.

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30 August

When I hung them up on the hooks, the first two birds of the day weighed and looked the same in their own blue bird bags, quietly waiting for me to start up the computer. Trying to remember not to mistake them, of course I almost did, and nonchalantly reached into the one bag for the American Robin. However, something made me double check -thankfully I did because the ten needle-sharp talons of the Sharp-shinned Hawk were waiting for me to reach my soft, vulnerable fingers in for a piercing. So we banded our first Sharpie today: an immature male.

Two Merlin and two American Kestrel streaked across the field, to add to the raptor numbers. Unfortunately it was a rather slow day on the books otherwise. We banded our first Spotted Towhee of the season- on the last round- plus a smattering of the usual suspects. Michael and Mark made a foray to a small oxbow lake at the end of the field and were rewarded with a great view of two Sora rails. This, while Steve was barely able to stay awake on census, it was so slow. Maybe it just seemed that way with five people around the station and so few birds, but if it wasn’t for one particular net round we might have been in single digits. I always tell people that this is the best time of year to visit here for bird diversity and numbers, so hopefully I’ll be proven right later in the week. The other important thing to note is that low numbers are still good data.

Steve

Stupid bird tricks: American Robin weighing itself

Stupid bird tricks: American Robin weighing itself

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 5
Yellow Warbler 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3 2
Chipping Sparrow 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
American Robin 1
Common Yellowthroat 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Oregon Junco 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 1

——

Total banded 19
Species banded 10
Total recaptured 6
Species Recaptured 5
Census:       # Species 24
Daily total:   # Species 41

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29 August

It remains warm and pleasant in the early mornings when the only sound breaking the silence is the creeking of the gate upon entry to the Tatlayoko Ranch- our bird banding property. Since Chris is gone we are relying extra heavy on the volunteers, and Mark stepped up to help with some banding while I went on census. Manu and Anna have become expert extractors (of birds from the nets) and computer whizzes. We bid them all a fond farewell. Another Mark and a Michael (a returnee from ’08) have arrived a bit early and came in handy to help with closing the nets today, when we caught about 12 birds on the last round. By the time I got back to the Lincoln Creek Ranch (our accommodation) it was hot and smoky.

Interesting birds of the day included a Lazuli Bunting banded, a couple of imm. Chipping Sparrows in the nets, and a pair of Cooper’s Hawks by the lagoon. Our first adult female Wilson’s Warbler was banded along with our first Red-winged Blackbird, and we recaptured a Yellow with a band that was put on previous to 2008. I’ll have to check when we banded him. Yellow-rumped Warblers were tallied at 35. Of note were the zero Warbling Vireos banded today.

The answer to the last bird quiz is a Song Sparrow, which raised a lot more excitement at the mist net than it did over the internet.

Steve

The trail back to the banding station. Nets are in the forest by the river.

The trail back to the banding station. Nets are in the forest by the river.

Old and new: The Chilko Lake fire last week, from a vantage in an older burn.

Old and new: The Chilko Lake fire last week, from a vantage in an older burn.

Another view down Chilko Lake last week. This fire has grown since then and approached the pass between Chilko and Tatlayoko Lakes.

Another view down Chilko Lake last week. This fire has grown since then and approached the pass between Chilko and Tatlayoko Lakes.

Species Band Recap
Common Yellowthroat 8 4
Swainson’s Thrush 5 1
Black-capped Chickadee 4 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 4 1
Yellow Warbler 3 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Chipping Sparrow 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 2
Mountain Chickadee 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 1 2
Oregon Junco 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Lazuli Bunting 1
Total banded 39
Species banded 16
Total recaptured 10
Species Recaptured 6
Census:       # Species 23
Daily total:   # Species 37

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28 August

Hello everyone. Thanks for following the blog, even if I don’t write about anything too exciting. We did have a good day today, with 51 birds banded for our third best day of the year.  A large (11) flock of Cedar Waxwings- all juveniles- helped with that total, not to mention plenty of Warbling Vireos. Swainson’s Thrush had another surge.

I saw my first actual flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers flying over this morning. The best time to see this is around an hour after sunrise, when they (and other nocturnal migrants) are still migrating but seeking out a place to drop in for the day. Luckily, this riparian system is just the place, although the Yellow-rumps are not a species that is caught very often- at least until it gets cooler and the insects are low or on the ground. We’ll see the numbers of this species spring up from around 6-10 total to over 100 recorded every day.
Anna was excited to extract a Red-breasted Nuthatch, which is always an interesting bird to observe close-up. Their bills are just like little wedges, which they must use to pry open small pieces of bark. Their “meep meep meep” call is probably an adaptation to make sure no other birds get in their way.

The Lava Canyon fire has put Redstone and other towns along HWY 20 on evacuation alert, meaning if anyone is planning on coming up, get here soon and be prepared to stay for a while.

Get out of my way!

Get out of my way!

Total banded 51
Species banded 13
Total recaptured 9
Species Recaptured 6
Census:       # Species 21
Daily total:   # Species 40

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27 August

Today was a changing of the guard, or at least a departure of the guard. We sent Chris off to pursue his life as a student for the next few years. Hopefully one day he’ll hire me.
It was steady- again. We are fortunate to be having a good run of success here since I hear it is slim pickings elsewhere. Nothing crazy today but we banded 36 and recaptured 12, to continue the high ratio of recaptures. To be sure, birds are hanging around the vast riparian area that is the TLBO census area. We nailed another flock of Cedar Waxwings, but this time only five. Also, Chris reported a Bullock’s Oriole by sound across the river and he’d be angry if I was skeptical- so I’ll put it into the obs spreadsheet. That would only be the second one reported in four years. I thought I heard a Fox Sparrow but I wouldn’t have been so brazen since I didn’t get a look. Called it a Lincoln’s.

While Chris was off driving to Victoria I went on a bit of a mountain biking trip with some friends around Tatlayoko Lake, on my free time after work.

We didn’t see much in the way of birds- just one Sharp-shinned of note, circling above. Oh, and a Loon and some California Gulls. From one vantage on the west side of Tatlayoko Lake, we could see both fires: the Lava Canyon fire and especially the Franklin Arm fire at Chilko Lake. They are HUGE. The Lava Canyon fire is over 33,000 hectares, which is, well, a lot of acres. Anyway, there were big plumes of smoke coming from both blazes.

Another heat wave is upon us. Gotta get it while it’s good.

Steve

Rod and Bob negotiate the lower Homathko River. Sorry, I didn't get any bird photos today!

Rod and Bob negotiate the lower Homathko River. Sorry, I didn't get any bird photos today!

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26 Aug

Today the sun returned to the Tatlayoko Valley and it was nice.  After some very strong winds the day before it was great to have a relatively warm sunny day, surely there are not too many left this season in the Chilcotin.  At least there won’t be for Chris as this will be his second to last day at TLBO this year as he heads off to canoe the Bowron Lakes and then settle in for three more years of academia in order to get an M.Sc.  As a reward for a job well done Steve has awarded Chris the privaledge of writing today’s blog.  Today was a good day of banding with a very high recapture rate; we caught 36 new birds today yet had 18 recaptures.  One might postulate that the strong winds of the last 24 hours forced the birds we’d already caught to stick around and get caught again, but there is no way we can really prove that.  We were hit with our usually high numbers of Common Yellowthroats and Warbling Vireos and so were glad to extract a Western Wood-pewee and Western Tanager as well as just our first banded American Robin of the season (despite hearing robins almost daily around the station).  We were also flooded with visitors today as nearly the entire Meulleur clan came to visit the station and learn the banding process.  Never have our net runs looked like more of a parade, and seldom have Steve and I felt that what we did was quite as amazing.  I suppose you could be President of the United States and a two year old would be bored with you, but if you pull a little yellow bird out of a bag and show it to them, they think you’re great.  Don’t worry for Steve’s stress level as I will be replaced by Cindy for the month of September, whom I hope is great but doesn’t want my job next year  🙂

~Chris

Chris and his screaming fans

If McCain was this cool he'd be in office right now.

Total banded 36
Species banded 13
Total recaptured 18
Species Recaptured 9
Census:       # Species 26
Daily total:   # Species 44

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25 August

Last night’s winds were very strong and gusty, persisting through early morning so we ended up getting a late start. It remained fairly windy but we still managed to haul in 17 new birds and one of the rarer variety: a Tennessee Warbler. Here is one that probably goes unrecorded very often because of the similarity to Orange-crowned Warbler, but see the white undertail coverts, short tail and lime green on the back. We called it a male because of the long wing length.

Vaseux caught one last week so indeed they do filter south this time of year.

Hatch-year male Tennessee Warbler

Hatch-year male Tennessee Warbler

Otherwise, we caught both Hammond’s and Alder Flycatcher and I had a Dusky on census, so early birds are still around (including a Northern Waterthrush banded). Here are two photos I’ve been saving to help people ID Dusky vs. Hammond’s in the field. Note the short primary extension in the Dusky and relatively long tail, whereas Hammond’s has primaries that extend quite far beyond the secondaries (inner/central flight feathers). For me, when all else fails I throw out a wild guess.

Steve

Dusky wing

Dusky wing

Hammond's wing

Hammond's wing



Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 6 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 2 1
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Alder Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1 1
Tennessee Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Song Sparrow 1

————

Total banded 17
Species banded 9
Total recaptured 4
Species Recaptured 4
Census:       # Species 17
Daily total:   # Species 33

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