Friday, July 23, 2010

Revelstoke Update

Hi all,

For the last few days I've been working at the Revelstoke Banding Station on Machete Island-- a slightly raised area surrounded by the Columbia River/Upper Arrow Lake. Last year the water was low enough to drive to the station but this year, because of local dam operations, we need to take a boat! Here's a picture of the old road:

Anyways, when we got the station going last year in mid-July, migration was already underway as we were catching Tennessee Warblers and all sort of other things right off the bat. This year, our first week has been very slow with little or no migration evident. Having said that, there have been some very good birds for the station. First of which were 2 SWAMP SPARROWS, both females with brood patches further strengthening my theory that this species breeds somewhere in the immediate vicinity. In fact, one of these birds was caught last year as a very young juvenile so...
(here she is)

As I mentioned migration hasn't really started here, so we're mostly catching birds that breed on the island-- species like: Willow, Alder, and Least Flycatchers, Western Wood-Pewees, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Lazuli Bunting, American Goldfinch, and many Pine Siskins, Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroats, Gray Catbirds, and a few odds and ends such as Marsh Wren, MacGillivray's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, and a trickle of Swainson's Thrushes. Most mornings we flush a LONG-EARED OWL from one of the net-lanes which is always cool, and there is a large family of RUFFED GROUSE that have a tendency to fly into the nets. We don't have bands for them so they are released immediately-- an interesting task since every time this happens, the male "ruffs out" and aggressively attacks while giving loud hissing squeals!

My census results have been pretty steady around the low 30s each day but there have been a few surprises including a pair of WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS (seen well) that flew over the island a few days ago, and a family group of CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES that seemed quite happy foraging in a stand of young cottonwoods (weird!).

Today was the big highlight though: a female BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER! My first for the Revelstoke area (and 2nd reported this year!). Perhaps a sign that migration is about to begin? Or did she link up with the male seen in early June nearby and raise a family? We actually caught and banded her too:

There have also been a few shorebirds passing over the station although unfortunately (due to the high water levels) there is nowhere to land! Over the last few days I have noted Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, a few Killdeer, and 1 Semipalmated Plover in addition to the resident Wilson's Snipes.

Another interesting bird note: For the second summer in a row a NORTHERN HAWK-OWL is being seen frequently along one of the main hiking trails on Mt. Revelstoke-- a strong suggestion of breeding?

That's all for now folks!

Russell Cannings
Revelstoke, BC

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