Feeds:
Posts
Comments

This is the 11th year my wife and I have volunteered at Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory (TLBO). When it did not operate last year, we felt sad. This year, in spite of the fires, we were able to get in to the station. When we might get out is still in doubt.

deer.png

Mule Deer herd. Photo by Gail Harcombe

Every morning, we get up early to help with the banding operations. Often at the gate to greet us are a group of mule deer. The Tatlayoko Lake Ranch, owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the recently donated adjacent Joerg Fischer Conservation Area, comprises the area where the banding and bird observation occurs.

 

If you look at the logo for TLBO, you will notice two components: the Clark’s Nutcracker, which is seen and heard almost daily flying between the mountains that border TLBO and a Chilcotin specialty, the Russell Fence. Although there seems to be no agreement on who Russell was, this style of fence has been installed on many Chilcotin ranches. The fence is built from local lodgepole pine logs, often from forests killed by forest fire. Although dirty to handle, the wood is hardened and will last longer. NCC has continued on with this traditional style, which many consider to be a piece of art. It is a fence designed for any landscape, since no hole-digging is required. Tripods are used instead of fence posts. The top log sits on the tripod, and the lower rails are hung with wire. A stake log prevents the whole fence from tipping. It is wildlife friendly; small animals go under and larger ones jump over, and there is no barbed wire to injure.

russell.png

 Russell fence. Photo by Gail Harcombe

There were brief showers last evening; the skies cleared and we woke up to frost and ice on wet surfaces. The birds must of also felt cold, since few were to be caught in the mist nets. A highlight bird for Kyle was a Spotted Towhee, which h extracted and banded for the first time. He was used to the Eastern Towhee in Ontario. In spite of the cold, we enjoyed a flyover of 9 Black Swift, 5 Violet-green Swallow, and a lone Bank Swallow all not seen that often in the valley.

chip.png

Yellow Pine Chipmunk eating soopalalie berries. Photo by Gail Harcombe

Gail and I hope that this year will lead to many following ones. We see the banding operation and its related data collection a key research tool for monitoring bird populations in North America.

Total Banded 188
Species Banded 23
Total Recapped 20
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 79

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 28 4
Common Yellowthroat 19 5
Song Sparrow 19 2
American Redstart 17 1
Yellow Warbler 16 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 15 2
Northern Waterthrush 13 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 5 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0

August 13th, 2017

“Finally some rain!” I thought to myself when I woke up at 4am this morning to the sound of raindrops on the roof and window. The excitement was short-lived as the cloud passed within seconds. The British Columbia fire situation has intensified over the past few days and many communities near Tatlayoko are under evacuation order and we are in desperate need of some rain. The banding station and surrounding area are thankfully kept relatively moist by the dense grass cover and the nearby Homathko River. The nearly constant south winds are keeping the fires north of us from entering into the valley as well.

The south winds have now completely cleared the smoke, finally revealing the mountains that surround us and I find it hard not to stop and stare every few minutes in amazement at the natural beauty of this valley. The clear skies have also allowed for some excellent raptor viewing (and capturing, but more on that later). Census started with some excitement as we watched a Merlin harassing a Northern Harrier in the field in front of the banding lab.

Merlin.png

Merlin perched prior to harassing the much larger Northern Harrier. Thanks to Gail Harcombe for all of the photos.

The raptor excitement continued after census when a female Cooper’s Hawk was caught in net 9. Large raptors often bounce out of the mist nets designed for small songbirds but Andrew did an excellent job of keeping the hawk “cooped” up in the net until it was extracted. Handling this large raptor proved to be a little “hawk”ward and I received a claw to my hand when we tried to weigh the bird, which was too heavy for our scale! After some quick first aid for me we took a few quick photos and released her with her new jewellery.

COHA6.jpg

I think you can tell how excited I was to be able to see this amazing creature up close! Thanks to Gail Harcombe for all the photos.

Apart from the raptor excitement today we had some good passerine activity as well with our first Oregon Junco and our second Vesper Sparrow banded as well as a return visit from a beautiful after hatch year male American Redstart who’s plumage is always quite striking.

One more exciting observation from today was a Mountain Goat near the banding station in the field!! These amazing rock climbers are rarely found in low elevations but Anna, Gail and Andrew were able to witness this rarity before it ran off toward the river and likely toward its home back on the mountains.

Looking forward to what tomorrow may have in store for us!

-Kyle

 

Total Banded 180
Species Banded 22
Total Recapped 18
Species Recapped 6
Species Recorded 78

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 26 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 17 5
American Redstart 17 1
Yellow Warbler 16 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Northern Waterthrush 13 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 4 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0

August 12th, 2017

The smoke has cleared substantially today, and the view is most stunning. We can see the clouds moving and the wrinkles of the mountains.  Every cloud has a silver lining.

A guest volunteer, Hana Kamea, enthusiastically joined us and witnessed some of the ongoing observed and banded birds, including Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Swainson’s Thrush, and Yellow Warbler.

We had a first-of-the-season for TLBO in the net, a Yellow-rumped Warbler (subspecies: Audubon)–also my first Audubon, as we only get Myrtles in Ontario. A “tournament” (i.e., flock) of five Chipping Sparrows were in net “14” during one of the net rounds, a relatively productive net so far. 14 Clark’s Nutcrackers and eight Ring-billed Gulls were observed, and these birds have been scarce until today.

Right before we wrapped things up, this bird showed up:

Do you recognize the species? What’s going on with this bird?

After work, we joined Hana for a delicious lunch. We also got to meet her friendly dog Jaya. We headed home, and then Constanza and Kyle went for a swim at Tatlayoko Lake while I took a nap.

 

After 12 dry and sunny days, I think tomorrow’s rain will be rather refreshing.

Anna.

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 24 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 15 3
American Redstart 15 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Yellow Warbler 13 0
Northern Waterthrush 12 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 8 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Wilson’s Warbler 5 0
Dusky Flycatcher 4 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0

Total Banded 164
Species Banded 20
Total Recapped 15
Species Recapped 5
Species Recorded 75

August 11th, 2017

Hi, I’m Constanza, from Chile. Today was my second day as a volunteer at TLBO.  The sky looked more blue and clear than yesterday, and I think more than the whole week.

I saw my first couple of Sandhill Cranes. I was excited. There is no crane in my country. We saw the first Northern Harrier of the season flying gracefully in the field. We had also seen a Red-naped Sapsucker, the first for the season too.

Today, less birds were in the net than yesterday, but it was an opportunity to continue my training as a volunteer field assistant. Now I can recognize different patterns of feathers and moulting, identify some birds, and tell which are hatch year, adult, male or female. One of the species that I started learning about is Wilson’s Warbler, a very interesting species.

Another interesting thing to me, that happened today, was that there was a black bear on the other side of the river. I couldn’t see him/her, but Andrew and Gail told us about the bear. He/she was enjoying the berries of the woods (I enjoy them too).

P8110502.JPG

I still have a lot to learn, but I’m accompanied by people who know a lot. I hope to continue learning. I’m very happy to be at TLBO.

-Constanza

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 23 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 14 1
American Redstart 14 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Northern Waterthrush 12 1
Yellow Warbler 11 0
MacGillivray’s Warbler 7 1
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 1
Wilson’s Warbler 4 0
Chipping Sparrow 3 0
Dusky Flycatcher 3 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Willow Flycatcher 0 1

Total Banded 148
Species Banded 18
Total Recapped 12
Species Recapped 5
Species Recorded 72

August 10th, 2017

Today was our first day back for our returning volunteers Gail and Andrew as well as the first day banding at TLBO for our new volunteer Constanza. The day started off with a great surprise, as we were opening nets I heard Anna yelling in excitement and ran to her location to find a Sharp-shinned Hawk had flown into the net just as she opened it. The bird was carefully extracted and brought back to the lab. The hawk provided a good early morning learning experience for proper raptor handling – it will only take one claw to the hand to learn that the legs need to be controlled at all times. After banding and processing it was time for a quick photo-op before releasing the bird amid a chaotic frenzy of alarm chips from nearby songbirds.

Today I set up a trail camera along the census route in the hopes of catching some of the local wildlife. With the large numbers of deer around I am almost certain to capture some with the motion sensor camera. I am also hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the predators of our area including (but not limited to) bears, cougars and wolves, however I hope the time stamp on the photos is not to close to the census time!

The rest of the banding day proved to be a good day for diversity with two new bird species for the season – a Pacific-slope Flycatcher and a Clay-colored Sparrow. Both of these birds are fairly uncommon captures at this station with only a record or two each year so getting both in one day was very exciting.

-Kyle

IMG_0334-2 copy

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

 

IMG_0546

Constanza with an adult female Sharp-shinned Hawk

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 20 2
Song Sparrow 17 1
American Redstart 14 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 1
Common Yellowthroat 11 1
Northern Waterthrush 11 1
Yellow Warbler 8 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
MacGillivray’s Warbler 6 1
Cedar Waxwing 5 1
Chipping Sparrow 3 0
Dusky Flycatcher 3 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Wilson’s Warbler 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Willow Flycatcher 0 1

Total Banded 134
Species Banded 18
Total Recapped 9
Species Recapped 5
Species Recorded 70

 

August 9th, 2017

Another day in the books. Right as I started the 7:20 am net check, Kyle told me by radio, “There are fresh new bear scats (on the census route). Be vigilant, okay?”. Okay, definitely. I was then reminded of a weird event that occurred yesterday afternoon. I was inside the station with the door closed when I heard some steps, and then a loud munching sound as though someone was eating with his/her mouth open right next to me. “Who, bear? Must be enjoying them berries”, I thought. I took a peak outside and couldn’t see any bear, or any other animal for that matter.

Kyle and I had a few fun encounters today, including those with two MacGillivray’s Warblers in the nets, and another with two Yellow-headed Blackbirds hanging out in a flock of twenty-something Red-winged Blackbirds. At one point, there was a bird in the hand that befuddled me until Kyle came and asked, “What do you think this is?”. I said, “…(first-year) Chipping Sparrow?”, and he replied, “Yeah?!” “B–but, the stripes on the chest!” It’s always fun to learn new things.

We did some sawing, weedwacking and cutting in the afternoon to clear up the paths and net lanes, and then went back to the ranch and met new and returning volunteers. Andrew and Gail Harcombe, and Constanza Rivas. Welcome! Kyle and Constanza are at Tatlayoko Lake as I type. We are almost done with the preparation phase of the program, and once we are, we will try to post more and better pictures. As for now, here’s Tatlayoko Lake:

P8040544.JPG

Tatlayoko Lake, BC. Smoke from the BC fire is visible.

 

We’ll all rise and shine tomorrow to start bird monitoring at 5:55 am. Until tomorrow.

Anna.

August 8th, 2017

The fall banding season is in full swing here with five exciting days on the books. Anna and I have been working hard over the last five days clearing vegetation from the trails and net lanes, setting up nets, and banding/observing some very exciting birds.

So far we have banded 91 birds including some Western specialties that have had us Eastern folks jumping for joy.  These include a hatch year Lazuli Bunting, Dusky and Hammond’s Flycatchers, a Townsend’s Warbler, and MacGillivray’s Warbler.

We have also had some exciting observations at the station including great views of a Golden Eagle flying over (one of a small handful of records from this station). Non-avian observations have been great for us with Mule Deer sightings being quite common as well as Red Squirrels and what I believe are Yellow-pine Chipmunks.

I have been kicking myself for forgetting to bring my camera charger so there may be a lack of photos until I receive it in the mail, however, we are looking forward to seeing more beautiful wildlife and scenery over the next couple months and will keep this blog updated with photos and stories.

Stay Tuned!

-Kyle

Total Banded 109
Species Banded 16
Total Recapped 7
Species Recapped 2
Species Recorded 66

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 16 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 0
Song Sparrow 12 1
American Redstart 12 0
Northern Waterthrush 10 1
Common Yellowthroat 8 0
Yellow Warbler 7 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 3 1
Dusky Flycatcher 3 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Wilson’s Warbler 1 0
Chipping Sparrow 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Willow Flycatcher 0 1