A busy week of 12 adult banding trainees and four staff yielded a lot of fun, and many birds! We were so busy with banding that we just couldn’t get a chance to update the PSBO blog. Though the week started out a bit slow with bird activity, toward the end it picked up and we banded a fantastic variety of birds including several “neekers”! (That’s a fancy bird term which means a new bird that hasn’t been banded at our field site before.)
The neekers included Virginia Rail, Solitary Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat, and White-Breasted Nuthatch. We also banded many other awesome birds, including Red Crossbill, Northern Flicker, Western Tanager, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-Breasted Sapsucker, and lots of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. The resident Osprey and Common Nighthawks kept us company by the lake, along with violet-green swallows and Vaux’s Swift. A night of owling at Cash Prairie (elevation 6200 feet) graced us with a Western Screech Owl and Long-eared Owl (though we have heard Pygmy Owls).
Our feathered friends haven’t been the only creatures that have visited us up here. Herds of elk have been frequent visitors at night, splashing around in the lake and filling the night air with their vocalizations. We’ll attach a video of them on here soon! (And once we compile some pictures, we’ll upload a few bird pictures, too.) To make the week even more exciting, this is the first time we’ve been able to have campfires in August. It’s just another example of how wet it’s been this year, and is great for the research we do.
Everybody had a wonderful time last week with great conversation, great food, and of course, great birds. On Friday, half of the crew split up to try banding at some other locations nearby, while the other half stayed behind to band at a new spot we’re frequenting called “Road End Willows.” It’s just up the road from McDaniel Lake about 3 miles or so, and has caught Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds, Pine Siskins, Chipping and Lincoln’s Sparrows, and vireos and flycatchers. The other field site we frequent, Cash Prairie, has also been successful with flocks of Oregon Juncos, sparrows, warblers, and Mountain Chickadees. We even caught a juvenile Gray Jay, and now we’re just waiting patiently for the unlikely chance of banding a Clark’s Nutcracker.
We were sad to say goodbye to the adult camp, but everyone made sure to stay in touch. Over the weekend, a few volunteers came by to help us out, and we banded some other cool birds including Steller’s Jays, Cassin’s Finch, and McGillivray’s and Nashville Warblers. Soon enough, Monday has now rolled around and the teen camp has started! Our seven teen banding trainees arrived safe and sound this afternoon after a drive through Chinook Pass. They got to see a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier before rolling into camp earlier this afternoon and immediately diving into some banding.
And with that, it’s time for us to get some sleep so we can be well-rested for a long day of banding tomorrow. A breakfast of scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes awaits us – and so do the birds!
– by Joey Smokey