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Archive for September, 2009

30 September

Welcome to the last daily bird report for the 2009 season. What a season it was, and what a day. We surely went out with a bang. Today was, in my opinion, the best day of the season. For one, it was a mythical sunrise- or I should specify that we were nestled under a blanket of fog until about 8:30 when it started to break, revealing a wintry scene on the craggy peaks of Niut. Some of the photos below might give you an idea of how abruptly those mountains rise above the valley floor.

Birds were scrambling to make it south. Although we are slightly lamenting the fact we won’t be banding tomorrow (funding solutions, anyone?), we do not forget the quiet nature of the previous week and the usual patterns of slow days after notable weather events. I suspect today was a one-day wonder and a cleaning out of straggling birds. In addition, we are borderline able to keep the birds safe in the persistent cold weather, not to mention ice on the bridge, etc. The bottom line is we keep it the same as in previous years.

When I could crane my neck away from the Niuts, census revealed a mystery (for you) gull on the lagoon. A flock of 30 or so American Wigeon roared overhead with a jet-like whoosh and posed in front of Mount Moore. A couple of Mountain Bluebirds cooed their way south. A Northern Goshawk startled a Fox Sparrow, a Merlin chased a Meadowlark around the field for five minutes, one of two Harriers grabbed something from the marsh and a Sharp-shinned Hawk made a curious dive toward my head just to see how I would react.
Meanwhile, Cindy was kept busy in the nets. Having approached -but falling short- of our last year’s record high of 1872 birds banded, alas it was looking like we’d never make it- needing to band 45 birds today to beat the mark. Embarking on the last round at 13:10, we were shy by only 14 birds- and we pulled in an impressive 8 before having to finally close up. Sorry, but a record year cannot be the result of bonus time!

Today we banded eight Hermit Thrush: a record for one day. Also, check out some of the other species. Around noon Cindy brought back a Dusky Flycatcher, then later a Yellow Warbler. We banded our first Winter Wren and Flicker of the year. By the end of it all, I released a Kinglet as the last bird of the season and we took down the nets.

Our season wrapped up with 1866 birds banded and 308 recaptures. How this all measures up will have to wait until we crunch some numbers. You’ll have to stay tuned because at some point we will post a report on the site here. In the meantime there are some graphs provided below to show you a few species and their occurrence over time.

I want to say a public thanks to Chris and Cindy for being such great people to work with. On our behalf I wish to thank all of our volunteers for the season, not to mention our support crew of Peter and Roma Shaughnessy, Andrew Harcombe and Wendy Easton.

Last but not least, thanks to everyone who has followed our blog and made it so fun to put together every day. The winner of the t-shirt goes to Ryan Gill for all of his mostly-correct quiz answers.

Please, keep in mind that the volunteer program is enriched by people like yourselves, who are devotees to bird migration. This is truly a special place to spend a week, so if you are interested please click on “get involved” at the top of this form. Keep in mind that volunteer opportunities become scarce as the winter progresses. We sold out in April for this season. Also, it is important to note that NCC welcomes donations to ensure we can continue with future bird monitoring and other important projects.

The answer to yesterday’s bird quiz was Pine Siskin. For the 30 Sep bird quiz, see below. Since Cindy and I are migrating away from our computers, it’s your turn to come up with the definitive answer, via the comments page. I’m sure there are some Brits out there who would like to comment on this species. The bird quizes have been fun, by the way. Thanks.

—-

First Flicker banded of the season, on the last day!

First Flicker banded of the season, on the last day!

The banding lane

The banding lane near net 14

Cindy hoping the sun will poke through

Cindy hoping the sun will poke through

Looking from the field to Niut and net 6 area

Looking from the field to Niut and net 6 area

Looking across the lagoon during census

Looking across the lagoon during census

Quiz: Name the species

Quiz: Name the species. To add difficulty, use the reflection only...:-)

We've trained the White-crowned Sparrows to put on their own bands

We've trained the White-crowned Sparrows to put on their own bands

An emblematic photo for TLBO

An emblematic photo for TLBO

Winter is not far away.

Winter is not far away.

Stay tuned for more interesting patterns and science stuff!

Stay tuned for more interesting patterns and science stuff!

Season Banding Totals (please excuse the bird codes):

Species

———–

Banded

———–


Recaps

———–


LISP 241 20
WAVI 162 21
SWTH 141 40
OCWA 126 12
RCKI 123 9
COYE 113 66
YWAR 104 13
SOSP 101 50
WIWA 92 2
AMRE 55 16
CEDW 54 1
NOWA 42 10
PISI 37 0
MGWA 35 3
SAVS 35 1
AUWA (YR)
33 2
ALFL 32 8
DEJU 32 2
HETH 32 1
RBNU 28 0
WCSP 23 1
BCCH 21 10
HAFL 21 0
DUFL 20 2
WIFL 17 1
REVI 16 6
MOCH 14 1
GCKI 12 0
MYWA (YR)
10 0
PSFL 7 0
AMRO 7 0
UnFL (AL/WI)
6 2
DOWO 6 0
FOSP 6 1
CHSP 6 1
PUFI 5 2
WETA 5 0
WEWP 4 0
RNSA 4 0
GCSP 4 0
HAWO 3 0
LAZB 3 2
CAVI 3 1
VATH 3 0
MAWR 2 0
WWCR 2 0
LEFL 2 0
SSHA 2 0
SPTO 2 2
Unkn. YR
2 0
RECR 2 0
VESP 1 0
VEER 1 0
OSFL 1 0
TEWA 1 0
NOFL 1 0
RWBL 1 0
TOWA 1 0
WIWR 1 0

Total:                     1,866                 308

Today:

Species Band Recap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 9 1
Hermit Thrush 8 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
White-crowned Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 3 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3
Mountain Chickadee 2
Red-shafted Flicker 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Winter Wren 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Fox Sparrow 1 1

Total banded 38
Species banded 12
Total recaptured 4
Species Recaptured 4
Census:       # Species 25
Daily total:   # Species 39
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29 September

Well, for our penultimate day of banding we had a few surprises.  First there was fresh snow on the mountains at the south end of the lake at dawn this morning, then the storm front moved in a little closer to home and laid quite a lot of snow on the Niuts, right above the banding station.  Lovely to look at from here at the Lincoln Creek Ranch house this afternoon, with my feet warming by the fire.  We ended up having to close the nets early today, as it was raining  on us while snowing up top and the wind was gusting.

Before closing, however, we did have some excitement in net 17.  It had been a slow day, and I was finishing my rounds with a lonely kinglet I’d picked up in an earlier net, when I turned the corner to net 17 and the Pine Siskins were having a party there!  Now, I know that 25 birds in one net is a regular occurrence for many banding stations, but it was a first for me, and pretty exciting.  There were siskins everywhere!  Six of them were lined up within a 40cm stretch of one trammel alone, all from the same direction – lying wing to wing, they were practically piled up on each other.  I radioed Steve for help and extra bags and we got them out and processed before the storm blew in.

Of note from yesterday:  Steve saw a Horned Grebe on the lagoon.  Today the Hermit Thrushes were showing themselves here and there on the census, and the robins were quite active throughout the day.  Still plenty of juncos, but the Yellow-rumped Warblers were not seen in big numbers today.  Pine Siskins were seen and heard throughout the census area, not just in net 17.  The small herd of cattle that has been grazing on the road side for the past couple of weeks has burgeoned and now there are cows all over the place.  Today they were sneaking in single file past the gate to the lake while I was finishing up the census.

Tomorrow is our last day of banding, and we will be taking down the nets and closing up the station for the season.  Let’s hope today’s stormy weather brings in a final flush of birds for us tomorrow.

The answer to the September 28 bird quiz is juvenile Red Crossbill, congrats to Andrew and Michael for that one.  Indeed, it did look exactly like the drawing in Sibley!  The bill was not crossed, certainly not compared to the adult that was netted at the same time – it must grow and cross over as they age.  Those were the first Red Crossbills banded at the station.

September 29 bird quiz, likely the last of the year, should be an easy one today:

Name the species.

Name the species.

Cindy

Observation type Band Recap
Pine Siskin 26
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
Song Sparrow 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Hermit Thrush 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1

Total banded


42

Species banded 8
Total recaptured 2
Species Recaptured 1
Census:       # Species 21
Daily total:   # Species 26

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Today- our third last day- ramped up slightly with 21 birds banded and a few recaptures. A storm was brewing and clouds spilled over from down the lake, and tonight we will see significant snow on the peaks. But we’re cozy in the Lincoln Creek Ranch house.

Did you ever see that movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray? That’s how it feels after nearly 60 days in a row of waking up for bird banding. But we love it. And I’ll admit, there were a few fishing forays thrown in there. Poor Bill didn’t know what he was missing.

Anyway, back to birds. I thought I was having an epic census, or rather a return from census because census was rather mellow, when I radioed Cindy and she reported our first two (???) (new banded species for TLBO). One was a young bird- see below for another easy quiz. Excited for her good fortune back at the station, I pressed onward along the beach to go explore the “Second Lagoon” as we call it. This is the one that you have to cross the river to get a look at. I knew I had to find something better than Cindy’s birds and wet feet was a good penance.

Now I’m building up the suspense too much because it was just a goose loafing on the lagoon. But a Greater White-fronted Goose to be exact (new species for the station list). The only other sightings I’ve had of these were a flock going over in October a couple of years ago. Also on this lagoon was a Northern Shoveler.

Other notables from today included: Mountain Bluebird, Evening Grosbeak, Cedar Waxwing, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finch and Winter Wren. Three or four each of Flicker, Varied Thrush, American Robin, Common Raven, and Clark’s Nutcracker were all very vocal. The Osprey chick on the other hand, has not been heard for two days: quieting up, migrating- or otherwise- after the really cold night. It’s really getting into fall now, and if I was a bird I’d want to be in Mexico by now, not out there among the swaying firs.

A freshly abducted Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

A freshly abducted Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Answer to 26 September bird quiz: Spotted Sandpiper, answered correctly by Andrew and Kris. Nice job!

28 September Bird Quiz: Name the species!

Name the species

Name the species


Species Band Recap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3
Can’t say
2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 1 1
Oregon Junco 1
Song Sparrow 1

Total banded 21
Species banded 9
Total recaptured 3
Species Recaptured 3
Census:       # Species 23
Daily total:   # Species 39

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27 September

This morning was our coldest start of the year – the thermometer read 4 below when we opened the nets and the ‘skulling fluid’ (aka water) was frozen well into the morning.  Not many birds about, even when it did warm up, making for a pretty slow day in the nets.  The large numbers of Lincoln’s Sparrows seem to have moved on, although we are still seeing flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Pine Siskins, and of course Oregon Juncos. Lots of Mallards and American Wigeons were dabbling in the lagoon, and a Great-horned Owl was scared up on the census.

Late in the day we caught a Red-naped Sapsucker which screamed the whole time I was extracting it, and proceeded to make mincemeat out of my fingers, drilling what seems like hundreds of tiny little pinpricks.

Today we banded our 100th Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year.

I know a blog without photos is like a kinglet without a crown, but sorry, no photos today.

Cindy

Species Band Recap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Hermit Thrush 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Oregon Junco 2
Red-naped Sapsucker 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1

Total banded


13

Species banded 8
Total recaptured 0
Species Recaptured 0
Census:       # Species 18
Daily total:   # Species 28

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26 September

Well, it looks like we are nearing the tail end of the fall migration, coincidental with our scheduled finish in a few days. Sixteen birds trickled into the nets today. That’s not TOO bad but it really felt slow despite a few flyovers and other sightings of note, and 35 species sighted. Two Varied Thrush were captured, plus a couple of Hermits (which seem to be abundant this year). Two Purple Finches sang along the census route and 25 American Pipits went over in one flock. On the lagoon were two American Green-winged Teal, two Hooded Mergansers, sixteen Mallards, and one female Greater Scaup. The latter is rarely sighted in these parts.
Wolf tracks were noted on the banding path first thing in the morning.

When doing net rounds, we usually start at net one and finish at net 17. This is a great way to go, since net 17 usually has at least one bird in it per round (or 1.34 to be exact, on average). It is quite interesting to note that net 12 is directly beside 17 (they share the same pole) yet it is the fifth slowest net. Net 11 is nearby- our most frequently empty net. This attests to the very specific pathways that birds are using within our study area- it all must have to do with preferred habitat or landscape structure, or vegetation type. Nets 16 and 14 are big catchers- 16 more consistently and 14 a specialist in bigger flocks (we had 15 waxwings in there, plus a couple of 20-bird episodes). Net 7 is across a sketchy footbridge over the river, but it’s worth the journey to every once in a while pull a good bird out, like the Varied Thrush x2 today. See the chart, below.


Net Banded Birds/Hr Recaps % time used
17 412 1.34 42 0.95
16 289 0.95 28 0.94
14 130 0.46 16 0.87
6 134 0.44 33 0.95
10 111 0.36 25 0.95
15 124 0.40 27 0.95
7 72 0.23 28 0.95
1 120 0.39 28 0.95
13 79 0.26 20 0.93
12 114 0.37 9 0.95
9 96 0.31 20 0.95
11 71 0.23 22 0.95

26 September bird quiz:

Name the species.

Name the species.

SPECIES Band Recap
Orange-crowned Warbler 4
Hermit Thrush 2
Varied Thrush 2
Song Sparrow 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Oregon Junco 1

Total banded 15
Species banded 9
Total recaptured 0
Species Recaptured 0
Census:       # Species 23
Daily total:   # Species 35

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25 September

A cold start this morning, with barely a bird to be heard.  No chipping from the shrubbery, no furtive movements through the grasses, only a flock of Canada Geese flying north from the lagoon.  However, when the sun finally showed itself enough to warm us up, the birds warmed up too and started to move in the area.  Captures were low today though, with only 15 banded and one recapture.

Of note today were the six species of woodpeckers seen or heard in the area:

Red-naped Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Black-backed Woodpecker 1
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Red-shafted Flicker 3

The only ones missing are the Red-breasted Sapsucker, which was sighted on surveys across the river in June, and was banded in previous years, but has not been seen yet this fall, and the Three-toed Woodpecker.

Steve continues to be skeptical about my ID of the Black-backed Woodpecker, but I keep telling him that the drum is distinctive.  I suppose it might be a Three-toed (drum is quite similar), but since a Black-backed was seen in the area shortly after drumming in the first week of September, I’m sticking with Black-backed.  We are likely going to have to hunt this one down to prove that I am correct and put the dispute to rest.  Perhaps I should put some money on it first.

The answer to the September 23 bird quiz is Yellow-rumped Warbler with a deformed bill.  The first to get it correct (by one minute!) was Kris Andrews.  Again, if the awarding of points were up to me, Ryan would get points for creative nomenclature:  Yellow-rumped Crossbill.

Cindy

SPECIES Band Recap
Mountain Chickadee 4
Hermit Thrush 3
Song Sparrow 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Cedar Waxwing 1
Fox Sparrow 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1

Total banded


15

Species banded 7
Total recaptured 1
Species Recaptured 1
Census:       # Species 19
Daily total:   # Species 37

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24 September

The blog was waylaid by post-banding activities, and we just got back. Walking back from an evening adventure, we encountered several birds by the lake calling (sparrows, Hermit Thrush), looking like they were getting ready to move tonight. It’s totally calm out. Two Great-horned Owls were dueting on the other side of net seven, looking like they might have a scrap. We saw them both in separate trees. An American Dipper has been hanging out just outside of NCC property along the lakeshore.

After many days of finishing census at the lake, one’s attentions tend to wander, and just happening to have a pair of binoculars handy is a great way to look around for things to do. In this case, some rock outcroppings. So that was related to the adventure. Laurenz happened to bring his climbing equipment, of all things, for a week of bird banding. So we were good to go explore some cliffs (although quality and exact size were unknown from census, they turned out to be good).

As for banding, it was a slow start, as in an hour and a half late because of persistent north winds. When it finally died we ended up with a couple birds per round for a total of 26 banded. Laurenz brought back six in one round. Not bad for this time of year I suppose. I have a feeling with some cooler weather coming in we should have good numbers the next few days. The afternoon was totally beautiful, calm, and warm so for the time being we’ll relish that.

Highlights of the day included a Mourning Dove (rarely sighted here), an Evening Grosbeak (same, away from feeders), and a flock of 25 American Wigeon. One lonely Kestrel was all that represented our raptor totals; in fact, nobody heard nor sighted any Osprey.

I have to go and nurse my bleeding knees and knuckles.

First ascent on a 35m 5.8 on solid granite. This is like finding an albatross in the desert. CM photo.

First ascent on a 35m 5.8 on solid granite. This is like finding an albatross in the desert. CM photo.

Laurenz checking for Canyon Wrens.

Laurenz checking for Canyon Wrens.

A view overlooking Tatlayoko Lake and the Potato Range.

A view overlooking Tatlayoko Lake and the Potato Range.

SO

Species Band Recap
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 4 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 3 1
Hermit Thrush 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Oregon Junco 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1

Total banded 26
Species banded 9
Total recaptured 3
Species Recaptured 3
Census:       # Species 24
Daily total:   # Species 33

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