Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rainy and Windy

Dodging raindrops. Again. Winds were in play, also, pretty early and our catches were low. The only solace was the return of flocks of American Robins drifting over throughout the morning.

Our first bird was a Hermit Thrush but the photo was too embarrassing to share. The following birds were House Wrens

House Wren

We recaptured one of our resident Brown Thrashers a bit later.

Brown Thrasher

Another recapture was brought in later. An adult male Ruby-crowned Kinglet we first banded nearly two years ago.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Our final bird of the day was a juvenile Eastern Phoebe and then things grew quiet except for the nearby sound of an Indigo Bunting.

Eastern Phoebe

Our visitors today found a new bird in the river for us. Three female Hooded Mergansers were paddling in the Little Wekiva but soon disappeared. Andrew found a male back were he usually sees them during the season so they are back. Perhaps the weather will begin to clear by next week. That would be nice.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Insert Foghorn Sound Here...

One of those days. Start with a meeting with a Sheriff's Deputy, talking to a Bobcat, and getting things ready in the heaviest fog probably ever in memory.

This shot was of the fog near 8:30 AM out by the lake. It did not clear until late in the morning and kept all bird activity at a bare minimum.

Fog

Just after Sunrise, Connie walked back to say there was an Eastern Screech Owl in Net 5. Typically, they are very docile, but this youngster was ready to rumble and tried to bite and scratch all the way through the data process. It flew off quickly soon after this shot.

Eastern Screech Owl

We heard a few Gray Catbirds today but only caught one and got a blurry photo after the banding. Another juvenile moving through.

Gray Catbird

This shot was actually taken last week but we share it now as we checked on what might be around Net 21 since we moved that net and the water is dropping a bit. There are many footprints out there in the mud including Coyote and this large American Alligator print next to a tail print from when it moved back into the river.

American Alligator

Phyllis called to report a captured Ruby-crowned Kinglet. They have been around a few weeks and it is nice to have a male join us today.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Just when we mentioned that we weren't hearing or seeing Ovenbirds, one flew in.

Ovenbird

Even better, as we got ready to head home, we caught a new juvenile Eastern Phoebe to round out the day.

Eastern Phoebe

Only one Indigo Bunting was heard today but it should be time to start catching them soon. Maybe the weather will hold out and bring us some of the later migrants along the way.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 12th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Little Windy

Tropical Storm Phillippe was to our Southeast but a strong cold front from the West was keeping it out to sea. However, that would mean mist and increasing strong winds as the morning wore on. Bird activity was at a minimum but we heard a few Indigo Buntings in flight. We did end up with a few interesting birds, though, and Andrew got to see our resident Bobcat in the dark before setting nets.

Eastern Phoebes returned last week and were taunting us all day. The first capture of the season happened right at dawn.

Eastern Phoebe

Closely following the Phoebe, our first Hermit Thrush of the Fall of 2017 was brought in. The more reddish tail distinguishes it from Swainson's Thrushes.

Hermit Thrush

Nearly an hour later, Christine got a female Painted Bunting at Net 9. Turns out that we first banded this bird 6 1/2 years ago as an adult. She seems to be doing quite well. Guests from FSC in Lakeland arrived just in time to see our bunting recorded and began their day with us to check nets for the majority of the morning.

Painted Bunting

The first bird that they got to see removed from a net was a new female Northern Cardinal. If they are unbanded then we are pretty sure they were born here earlier in the year as her black streaks on her bill showed. In the meantime, have a cigar so you don't bite us!

Northern Cardinal

Even bird calls were infrequent today but we did hear a few Catbirds and eventually we got one juvenile Gray Catbird as the winds began to actually howl.

Gray Catbird

The crowd watched the Gray Catbird being banded and volunteers helped to record data and release the bird as Dr. Green joined us for a bit.

Gray Catbird

Temperatures were definitely dipping and the winds were still pushing in as we closed up. Connie found a Swainson's Thrush while we bagged nets and then headed back to process the juvenile bird.

Swainson's Thrush

Surprised we had at least a few birds today with the fowl weather and glad that we could show some visiting students the process of bird banding. More buntings and butterbutt warblers are here so perhaps we can have a lighter wind to catch more birds next Sunday. November, already...

Note: Daylight Saving Time is Sunday morning! Fall back 1 hour!!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Thought it Would Be Busier...

We noticed a lot of small bugs while setting nets before dawn and the area seemed ripe for feeding birds to be stopping through. An approaching front from the South should have also slowed down migration a little to provide us with a solid day of banding. However, that never occurred. Once the winds from the front began to reach us most activity shut down.

The morning actually started strong with a new new being brought to the table every few minutes. First up was a new Ovenbird at Net 2, just behind the banding table.

Ovenbird

That was followed by a recaptured Carolina Wren first banded last August.

Carolina Wren

Only a single Common Yellowthroat was captured but several more were heard.

Common Yellowthroat

A pair of House Wrens popped out of the grasses where Eastern Phoebes have just returned and were calling all over the property.

House Wren

A string of Gray Catbirds rounded out our nice start. The the wind notched up and things got pretty quiet. Palm Warblers are also back but they were concentrated in the marsh all morning.

Gray Catbird

In our last runs before closing up American Redstarts suddenly came out to feed. The first was a female.

American Redstart

The rest for the session were young males. American Redstart males look like the females until they molt into their gaudy orange and black. Telling signs are subtle. Brighter feathers under the wings and a darker set of spots or streaks begin to appear on the head and sides through the first Winter.

American Redstart

We wrapped the day with our last American Redstart and headed home.

American Redstart

A possible front could keep us watching weather once again next week but we always hope for the best. Still other species left to arrive like Indigo Buntings. Fingers crossed.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 29th.
All nets will be opened by 7:05 A.M.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another Bird-of-the-Decade?

Today was fairly slow but steady all morning and we had a lot of visitors stop by throughout the proceedings. By the end of the day we had a chance to band a bird we haven't banded since 2006. More on that later, of course.

Our first bird of the day was a young female Northern Cardinal most likely born on property this year.

Northern Cardinal

Gray Catbirds are back in full swing and mewing up and down the river.

Gray Catbird

Painted Buntings are definitely back, too, and we caught another adult male.

Painted Bunting

No one can resist taking as many photos as possible of Painted Buntings. Our new visitors got to release many of our banded birds.

Painted Bunting

Common Yellowthroats are still moving through in good numbers.

Common Yellowthroat

One of our other young visitors learns how to release a bird, after a family photo.

Common Yellowthroat

It is great to have the whole range of Common Yellowthroats so that we can point out the differences between the females (above) and the adult males.

Common Yellowthroat

Connie is always scanning the nets to bring birds back to the table.

House Wren

We were just wondering where the House Wrens were when she brought one in!

House Wren

Everyone is fixated on the banding process.

House Wren

We typically begin catching Northern Waterthrush in August. Since the storms ruined most of our early banding season it was nice to have one in October.

Northern Waterthrush

See this dude? That look? This Carolina Wren was born here this Spring. Since then, it has been banded and recaptured 3 more times. Thus, the look of dejection. "Not again..."

Carolina Wren

A new male Northern Cardinal joined us along the way.

Northern Cardinal

It is always a joy to get an American Redstart, especially the adult males.

American Redstart

The perfect color scheme leading toward Halloween.

American Redstart

We bring out all of our bird guides every weekend so there is always something to do between birds at the table.

Studying

Ovenbirds are still creeping through the underbrush and will stay with us through the Winter.

Ovenbird

Then the second Bird-of-the-Decade in two weeks. We knew when we saw Chris thrusting both arms in the air down the lane that something special was coming back. It was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Like we said at the beginning of this post, it has been 11 years since we have banded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and that was at Wekiwa Springs. Checking on past records, we always seem to have caught them in October.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Too bad there wasn't anyone there to witness our special guest...

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

We wrapped up with another Common Yellowthroat and closed up in time to beat the rain.

Common Yellowthroat

Christine found this little Green-tree-frog as we gathered nets. It was actually right next to Net 1 where it was resting on the pole when we set nets in the dark, hours earlier.

Green-tree-frog

Yet another exciting day in the woods. What might next Sunday bring?
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 22nd.
All nets will be opened by 7:00 A.M.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

That's More Like It

We had a fairly slow Saturday but had a great bird in the Chestnut-sided Warbler, but we were hoping for a better Sunday. It was better. We doubled our Saturday count. Still could have been better if we can clear the skies for a while.

Before dawn while setting the last net, Andrew noticed something down in the gloom. He called William back since he had his camera in tow. A young American Alligator was positioned at the spill over between the river and the marsh. Animals often wait in these flowing water spots in hopes that some prey might unexpectedly flow through and swim directly into a waiting row of teeth.

American Alligator

We started the day just like yesterday with an American Redstart. The demographic shifted a bit as today all of the Redstarts we banded were juvenile males.

American Redstart

Ovenbirds are still lurking about silently.

Ovenbird

So are the Swainson's Thrushes

Swainson's Thrush

House Wrens were absent the past couple of banding days but they began to come back out today.

House Wren

We had new visitors today and they got to release a number of birds.

House Wren

Look who arrived fashionably late to the Fall party! Gray Catbird were heard recently but they finally started finding the nets today, nearly two weeks late.

Gray Catbird

Veerys usually are gone by the time the Swainson's Thrushes move in but we caught two this morning.

Veery

A variety of age and sex ranges of Common Yellowthroats were banded, beginning with an adult female.

Common Yellowthroat

As mentioned in previous posts, ew do catch more than birds in the nets. William rescued two large dragonflies near the table. Won't be the last.

Dragonfly

A new female Northern Cardinal was brought to the table midday. There was still some black in the bird's bill indicating that it is a hatch-year bird, probably born on property.

Northern Cardinal

The Christine came in looking like the cat that swallowed the Canary (pardon the anit-bird reference). Everyone was trying to keep the bird a secret from Andrew, who prefers to surprise others, but when she returned from Net 2, she asked, "Has he done the Bunting?", spoiling the reveal. The bird, in fact, was a male Painted Bunting, the first we have had in quite some time.

Painted Bunting

Not that anyone was interested in seeing a Painted Bunting up close...

Painted Bunting

We know that a few have been hatched around the area in the past but now it the time when migrating bird also move through. Next up will be Indigo Buntings in their blue and brown coats. We will take a rainbow any day.

Painted Bunting

More Gray Catbirds were captured and we got Dad in on the releasing action.

Gray Catbird

We got to point out the plumage of female and juvenile male Common Yellowthroats so it was fitting that we could show our visitors what an adult male looks like.

Common Yellowthroat

Soon, we had one of our Appalachian sub-species of a male Black-throated Blue Warbler in hand. This is turning out to be a pretty good showing for this species this year so far.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Keeping pace, another juvenile male American Redstart was banded. This is a good example of the juvenile male compared to a female. There are slight dark streaks in the cheek, dark feathers hiding underneath the white sides, and really bright orange in the 'wing-pits', as we call them.

American Redstart

Another was not too far behind and more were seen in the flooded area of Net 21, as well.

American Redstart

Our final bird of the day was a White-eyed Vireo. Many marveled in the irregular iris on this bird.

White-eyed Vireo

Weather forecasts are mixed for next weekend. Could be windy, could be mixed with rain, could be neither. We shall see. Just can't wait to see what other birds are arriving. Palm Warblers cannot be too far away.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 15th.
All nets will be opened by 6:55 A.M.