Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2015

A strong wind was blowing when our alarm clocks went off this morning, however by the time we arrived at the station for net opening they had abated somewhat. Throughout the morning the breeze blew, threatening to reach the point where we would have to close down. In the end we got in our full 6 hour session minus a few net hours for our most exposed nets.

This very fresh Mourning Cloak surprised Sandy and I by being out and about in seemingly inclement conditions

This very fresh Mourning Cloak surprised Sandy and I by being out and about in seemingly inclement conditions

We are feeling a shift in the species composition coming as the ratio of adult/hatch-year of many of our early migrants is increasing in favour of the adults. The most noticeable example is the Swainson’s Thrush. During the first 16 days only 7% of the banded individuals were adults (10/140); over the last two days this percentage has jumped to 33% (5/15).

In most songbirds the young migrate first. The adults spend several weeks post-breeding moulting in a complete new crop of feathers. All three of the adults banded today were finishing up their moult, indicating that they were likely from not too far away and (I speculate) just commencing their migration. Also of interests is that although we couldn’t measure their wing length (being in moult) all three were quite heavy (despite fat scores of 0 for each) and “felt” large, indicating that they were likely males, which are somewhat larger than the females. This makes sense as males are, on average, a few days ahead of the females in their migration.

If you are wondering why I am straying from the normal daily narrative, your suspicions are correct; the wind created rather less than ideal conditions and activity was quite low throughout the day producing little to report. Even though Volunteer Sandy joined me on census we barely eeked out 20 species, the highlight being an American Kestrel with a small rodent in it’s talons, looking very picturesque perched atop a snag with the Potato Range in the background.

IMG_7888

If the winds die down Chris will likely go owling tonight. Although it is still early in the season we have several visitors (including NCC staff) who are interested in seeing the owl banding, so fingers crossed that Chris’ blog tomorrow will have a photo of one of these cute little avian hobbits.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 8 2
Swainson’s Thrush 5 1
Common Yellowthroat 4 5
Song Sparrow 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Western Tanager 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
American Robin 1
American Redstart 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
Alder Flycatcher 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Northern Waterthrush 1

Birds banded 26
Species banded 10
Birds recaptured 14
Species recaptured 8
Species on census 19
Species Total 34
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 802
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 802

Read Full Post »

Aug 20

Today started slow but had a decent surge towards the end. We finished with 41 birds for the day, still a pretty good total that helps pad our lead on all previous seasons. We’ve also started to notice more adult birds hitting the nets, including my personal favourite the after-hatch-year male American Redstart. Today we had our first two of these beauties. The highlight of census was the first Common Mergansers of the year.

IMG_2029

P1010314

Today I dug deeper into the stats and found that similar to Western Tanagers and American Robins, we are experiencing our best season ever for Swainson’s Thrushes. This is consistent with my observation that fruit-eating (frugivorous) birds were doing exceptionally well this year. We have now banded 22 more Swainson’s then ever before on this date.

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 10
Common Yellowthroat 7 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 6
Song Sparrow 4 3
Warbling Vireo 3
American Redstart 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Alder Flycatcher 1

~

~

Birds banded 41
Species banded 15
Birds recaptured 7
Species recaptured 3
Species on census 28
Species Total 55
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 776

Read Full Post »

…is that it means few birds for us at the station. Last night was cold and clear making for ideal migration conditions so any birds that were ready to move seemingly did so. Their absence was apparent from the get go as we heard very few birds while opening the nets. The most obvious declines were in the Swainson’s Thrush and Warbling Vireo numbers with just 2 of each banded.

One of the few birds that did make it’s presence known first thing was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that cruised over as I opened net 14. Raptor numbers have increased somewhat after a few days of being almost non-existent here. This was reflected on census as well as a passing vehicle flushed an adult Bald Eagle and a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk from the slopes above the lagoon. On the opposite side of the water a Merlin was perched in a snag.

Census held a nice diversity of species, if low numbers. A small flock along the road included singles of Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, MacGillivray’s and Yellow Warbler along with a family of Alder Flycatchers.

IMG_7867

This Snowshoe Hare is nearly always present on census along the side of the road just north of the lagoon

Around the station Orange-crowned Warbler numbers seem to be increasing slowly with two banded and a couple observed in the Warbling Vireo flocks. Common Yellowthroats and Northern Waterthrush were the two species with obvious increases, the former being the top species we banded for the day (7) and the later hitting a single day high for the season (4). Eleven Red Crossbills flew over as the morning wound down. With the nets not being very active Chris and a visiting friend decided to take off early and hike to Jellostone Lake above the station. The hike is grueling (from what I have heard) but well worth it for the amazing scenery. Chris can report on that tomorrow!

View from the East end of net 17

View from the East end of net 17

Species Band Recap
Common Yellowthroat 7 5
Song Sparrow 5
Northern Waterthrush 4
Swainson’s Thrush 2 3
Warbling Vireo 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2
Western Tanager 1

Birds banded 24
Species banded 7
Birds recaptured 9
Species recaptured 3
Species on census 38
Species Total 51
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 735
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 735

Read Full Post »

Aug 18

Yesterday was truly unusual to me in my eight seasons at TLBO. I cannot remember any day in that span where it was warm and windless throughout the entire afternoon. Even at 3pm the lake was like glass. This made for a great time to swim and do laundry in the lake, but perhaps also meant a lot of birds migrated out. Today we banded 35 birds, which in most seasons would be a highlight, but in light of this season’s successes it seems concerningly slow. I also managed just a paltry 25 species on census; though that did include our first and second Bufflehead of the season.

Back at the station we caught our first Mountain Chickadee of the season. Always a rare highlight at TLBO and noticeably kinder to our poor fingers than their Black-capped cousins. Also, Avery detected our first Killdeer of the season near the station.

P1010348

Since we had a relatively slow day at the station today I worked on this chart I find interesting. Just a quarter of the way through the season we have already set new records for American Robins and Western Tanagers. We will most likely continue to break their existing records for the next six weeks. Below is a chart showing Western Tanager (WETA) and American Robin (AMRO) captures by August 17 over the ten seasons at TLBO. As you can see this season has been exceptional for fruit-eating (frugivorous) birds.

blog chart

~Chutter

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 6 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 6 1
Warbling Vireo 5
Willow Flycatcher 2
Alder Flycatcher 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
Purple Finch 2
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Mountain Chickadee 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
American Redstart 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Oregon Junco 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Western Tanager 1
Song Sparrow 1

~

~

Birds banded 35
Species banded 17
Birds recaptured 3
Species recaptured 3
Species on census 25
Species Total 57
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 711

Read Full Post »

Sun on the Niuts

Sun on the Niuts

Another fine day in the Tatlayoko Valley. When we arrived at the station the cold, crisp 3C air was remarkably void of bird calls. However any suspicion that this would be a slower day was soon laid to rest as the Common Yellowthroats and Warbling Vireos started filling our nets. Activity, especially right around the banding lab and our first two nets, was high most of the morning as the Robins, Thrushes, Tanagers and other frugivores gorged on the berry crops (Raspberry, Red Osier Dogwood and Saskatoon). Despite being calm and sunny all morning the mid-day temperature was only 21C, an indicator that fall is fast approaching.

Census got off to a rip-roaring start and I was up to 20 species within the first 5 minutes. After leaving the high activity around the lab though things got noticeably quieter. Two Pied-billed Grebes were loafing on the lagoon along with the customary Mallards.

In the late morning Volunteer Sandy went off to the NW corner of the census area to check out the oxbow that us banders rarely have time to visit. He was rewarded with two Sora and our first Wilson’s Snipe of the season.

After lunch Sandy and I went to nearby Eagle Lake to look for the nesting Arctic Terns. Although we didn’t see them this time we did find an American White Pelican. It was sleeping when we arrived but soon woke up and did some yawing, shuffling and preening as it seemingly got it’s wits about it before eventually flying out of sight behind one of the numerous islands, presumably to feed. Along the shore were a few shorebirds, mainly Least Sandpipers along with a lone Western Sandpiper. A Gray Jay at the waters edge was a bit of a surprise.

On our way back home we made a roadside stop at Lunch Lake were a Baird’s Sandpiper was the odd one out with a group of Least Sandpipers.

A digi-scoped record shot of the Pelican

A digi-scoped record shot of the Pelican

Species Band Recap
Common Yellowthroat 13 1
Warbling Vireo 12
Swainson’s Thrush 5 5
American Robin 4
Song Sparrow 3 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3
Northern Waterthrush 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2 1
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Western Tanager 1
Purple Finch 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1

Birds banded 56
Species banded 18
Birds recaptured 9
Species recaptured 5
Species on census 38
Species Total 56
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 676
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 676

Read Full Post »

I keep expecting this exceptional banding season to level out and return to more normal banding totals, but at roughly a quarter of the way through the season, that still is not happening. Today we banded another 51 new birds. Fourteen days into the season, we have a daily average of 44.3 birds/day which is almost 160% of our nine year average of 28.2 birds/day! Last year we banded 35 or more birds just four times in 57 days, this year we have banded that many ten times in just 14 days. We are still on pace to band ~2500 birds this season, more than 600 more birds than our previous best. At no point this season has our banding total ever trailed that of any other banding season. Check out the graph below to see how we compare so far (2015 in black).

Banding

Today’s highlight in the net was our first Cassin’s Vireo of the season. Many seasons we don’t catch any of these birds so they are always a highlight. Census yielded our first Marsh Wren of the season as well as good looks at a young Sharp-shinned Hawk and a Wood Duck. Around the station both Avery and I thought we caught fleeting glimpses of a Blackpoll Warbler on separate occasions. This would be an exciting bird, but we are yet to confirm it. Today we also heard the wolves howling again, but this time they were to our north and they inspired someone’s dog to join in.

First Cassin's Vireo of the season.

First Cassin’s Vireo of the season.

Better than normal view of a Wood Duck here.

Better than normal view of a Wood Duck here.

Sharp-shinned on a fence.

Sharp-shinned on a fence.

~Chutter

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 14
Swainson’s Thrush 12 4
Common Yellowthroat 5 3
Song Sparrow 4 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3
American Robin 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Western Tanager 2
Cassin’s Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Willow Flycatcher 1

~

~

Birds banded 51
Species banded 14
Birds recaptured 9
Species recaptured 4
Species on census 33
Species Total 57
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 620

Read Full Post »

Aug. 15: Veery

Intermittent showers overnight made for a rather wet net opening. Large billowing clouds over the Niut Range to our west seemed to indicate that we hadn’t seen the end of the rain. The weather had brought us one surprise, a Veery that was calling regularly from along the edge of the Homathko. This represents the 2nd record of this species at TLBO with the first one banded Aug. 12 2009. Volunteer Michael Simmons and I heard it again on census, well south of the net setup.

The weather seemed to bring some new birds in, or at least push them down from the surrounding slopes as there were numerous Swainson’s Thrush calling early on and a sizable flock of Warbling Vireos (30+) came through with a few others such as Cassin’s Vireo, Wilson’s, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers mixed in.

Our census was delayed by 15 minutes due to a busy previous net round, and just as we set off the clouds let go and a steady drizzle set in, forcing Chris and Andrew to close the nets. The rain persisted throughout census and we were thoroughly soaked by the time we reached the lake. Fortunately Andrew drove down and picked us up. Wouldn’t you know it though, by the time we pulled in to the parking lot the rain had more or less stopped!

MacGillivray's Warbler

MacGillivray’s Warbler

After waiting 25 minutes or so, we re-opened nets but within a half hour were rained out again, at which time we decided to call it quits for the day. With our 2.75 hours of banding we managed to catch 26 new birds including our 2nd Oregon Junco and 3rd Vesper Sparrow of the season and a nice hatch-year MacGillivray’s Warbler, always a treat.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 9 2
Swainson’s Thrush 7 4
Common Yellowthroat 2 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Oregon Junco 1

Birds banded 26
Species banded 11
Birds recaptured 8
Species recaptured 4
Species on census 25
Species Total 49
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 569
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 569

Read Full Post »

Another good day with 40 new birds banded that included our first (and second) Vesper Sparrow of the year. While it seemed quiet on census and around the station the few birds around still managed to hit our nets. Noteworthy on census, was a great diversity of waterfowl (eight species!) including three firsts for the season: Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Shoveler and Blue-winged Teal.

I also finally downloaded the videos from the trail camera and had 67 videos. Most of them were of grass or people, but we also have 6 videos of Mule Deer, one of a Black Bear, and one of a small rabbit. Pretty impressive that the small rabbit tripped the motion sensor on the camera.

The most interesting observation at the station today was something none of us had ever born witness to: a flock of Merlins. Yes, a flock of seven Merlins. Andrew and I watched them cross the field towards us and fly right over head battling each other in flight. We could hardly believe such a sight and neither could Avery who over the radio questioned whether perhaps they were actually shorebirds. We are sure he was playfully teasing our birding skills.

One of the more popular things we have done on this blog in past years is quizzes and we have taken far too long to get that ball rolling again. So here is the first one, in fact the first three, in increasing order of difficulty. If you’re name is Ogle, Tucker or Cannings feel free to just say, “I got this,” rather than give away the answers. We know you know.

P1010325 P1010299 P1010309

~Chutter

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 8
Swainson’s Thrush 7
Common Yellowthroat 6 1
Song Sparrow 3 4
Willow Flycatcher 3
Purple Finch 3
Yellow Warbler 2 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Vesper Sparrow 2
Northern Waterthrush 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1

~

~

Birds banded 40
Species banded 12
Birds recaptured 7
Species recaptured 4
Species on census 35
Species Total 58
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 543
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 543

Read Full Post »

We had another great morning here at TLBO with the now customary plethora of birds about, 53 of which found their way into our nets. This meant that we reached 500 birds banded for the year a full 6 days sooner than the next busiest season! Interestingly, in four different seasons we’ve reached this milestone on August 19 but, up until this year, had never bested it.

The day started off on an amusing note. Yesterday Andrew, Michael and Chris had apparently had a discussion about the need to cut a “window” in the foliage that runs between net 10 and the river and Chris duly did this when we closed up the nets. So wouldn’t you know it, we opened up nets 9 and 10 (which are joined) this morning and as I start to leave the nets a bird flies past me and heads, you guessed it, straight for “the window”! By my estimates it took roughly 2mins 30 secs for that decision to be vindicated.

A Northern Waterthrush is the first to find

A Northern Waterthrush is the first to find “The Window”

After that, it took a little while for the action to heat up and indeed it wasn’t until Andrew and I were on our way back to the station after census that we finally had a busy net round. However, activity stayed high for the rest of the morning with Warbling Vireos and Swainson’s Thrush leading the pack. There had been some discussion (though no bets were laid) as to which of these two species would be the first to reach 100 banded for the season and we got our answer today with Swainson taking it by a whisker (101 to 97 at the end of the day). A Least Flycatcher and a Purple Finch were also noteworthy catches.

Our second Least Flycatcher of the season

Our second Least Flycatcher of the season

Census was very diverse with a whopping 45 species encountered. This despite not a whole lot of activity. We were helped by the return of a few raptor species as we saw Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks as well as Merlin and American Kestrel within 10mins of setting off on census. Two Ruby-crowned Kinglets at the head of the lake were my personal first of the season.

Back at the station a pair (presumably the same as last week) of Sandhill Cranes flew over and landed in the next field to our north. Also in the skies was a lone Turkey Vulture.

As we neared closing time a brisk north wind picked up, perhaps an indicator of some change  ahead in the weather.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 16 1
Swainson’s Thrush 9 1
Common Yellowthroat 5 4
American Robin 4
Song Sparrow 3 2
Northern Waterthrush 3
Alder Flycatcher 2 1
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2
Western Tanager 1 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
American Redstart 1
Purple Finch 1

Birds banded 53
Species banded 16
Birds recaptured 10
Species recaptured 6
Species on census 45
Species Total 60
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 502
SEASON TOTAL BANDED 502

Read Full Post »

Aug 12 – Field trip

The better-than-ever capture numbers continued today with another 39 birds banded (remember our nine year average of ~28birds/day). Despite more good numbers, our only noteworthy bird in the nets today was our first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the season. Around the station, numbers were similarly good, but lacked something truly unusual. Our highlights were probably well above average numbers of Brown-headed Cowbirds and Purple Finches as well as another Turkey Vulture.

IMG_7713

Young Golden-crowned Kinglet

After banding, our volunteer Michael and boss/volunteer Andrew took us on a birding field-trip. We hit a number of shallow alkali lakes in the area looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, and hopefully some Arctic Terns before they depart for their extreme migration.

I have been here for at least part of eight of TLBO’s ten seasons and have made at least three failed attempts to find Arctic Terns nearby. Today I got my lifer Arctic Tern finally. In fact four of them. Additionally, it seemed we got there just in time to watch them start their migration as they circled way up into the clouds and looked to be heading off shortly after we got some good views of them. Pretty amazing timing if that is the case. Nearby we also found five species of shorebirds in a single flock: Long-billed Dowitcher; Killdeer; and Least, Semipalmated, and Western Sandpipers. Not a bad field trip especially considering how few lifers BC has left to offer me.

IMG_7752

~Chutter

Species Band Recap
Swainson’s Thrush 11 3
Warbling Vireo 8
Common Yellowthroat 3 2
Northern Waterthrush 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Wilson’s Warbler 2
Alder Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 2

~

~

Birds banded 39
Species banded 13
Birds recaptured 7
Species recaptured 3
Species on census 33
Species Total 59
STANDARD TOTAL BANDED 449

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »