Posted | filed under Weekly Banding Reports.

What a great week! The weather, the wildlife, the warblers, I don’t know where to start! Early in the week we were disheartened by a forecast showing lots of rain; we were finally catching more birds only to have inclement weather threatening to shut down netting. Fortunately for us, the showers ended up playing in our favour. We hardly experienced any rain in the mornings (most of them were in-fact sunny, warm and pleasant), but storms rolled through in the afternoons and evenings, preventing the birds from continuing to migrate until the following morning when we were once again able to try catching them. Although we didn’t experience any overly busy banding days, we were consistent throughout the week and our banding total has now risen to above 600. With steady migration and capture rates, we were really excited for our annual Songbird Festival – maybe this year we would catch lots of birds for a change. The festival was held on the last weekend in May and right from the start we knew it would be a good one. First thing in the morning we had an unusual sighting: a large raft of 40 pacific loons was scoped out in the distance. Pacific loons spend their winters throughout the Pacific Ocean, as far as Japan (hence their name), and only come inland to breed in the arctic tundra. This wasn’t a new sighting for the lab, we tend to see a stray pacific loon or two every 3-5 years, but we had never seen a group of that size. The morning only got better from there. We observed hundreds of birds of good diversity migrating overhead and we caught over 40 birds for all the Songbird attendees to view and enjoy. Although pacific loons weren’t a new sighting for the LSLBO, there was another bird this week that was. A great-crested flycatcher became species number 252. We are only a few hundred kilometres west of their expected range so it isn’t all that surprising that one showed its face around the lab… Perhaps it is more surprising that is took so long for one to wander our way. If good birding wasn’t enough, late in the week, I had a very close encounter with a wolf. I was down by the shore and as I walked back up to the parking lot I looked up and found myself in a staring contest with a very large wolf no more than 50 feet away. It was close enough that I managed to snap its picture with my phone! A couple hours after that another one of the beautiful predators that calls the Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park home came wandering down the trail: a lynx. Is that all? Am I done relating my fantastic week? No. I am not. The feather in this week’s cap didn’t come until the last day. We (me specifically) caught and banded a chestnut-sided warbler. It was the first one captured at the LSLBO in 9 years, and only about the 20th banding record for its species. More importantly, it was a first for me and a real looker!