Friday, September 15, 2017

Back to Banding

OK. Let's do this...

There is flooding at the site but we can probably get at least half the nets set. We also will have some clean up to perform along the way. Migrants are on the move so we hope to get something.

Could be an interesting morning.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 17th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Sooooo.... With Irma wobbling back and forth through the weekend we can pretty sure bet that there will be no banding on September 10th. In fact, depending on how bad this monster is we may not be banding for the foreseeable future.

I am sure the banding site will flood and who knows how many trees will fall there and throughout Central Florida. When Charlie roared through Orlando as a Category 1 my house was without power for nearly 2 weeks and trees blocked many roads. I still drive by where they took trees to be shredded and piled. They filled a football field (literally) and was several stories tall.

Irma is much larger and slower. Fingers crossed. I will have to ride it out and inspect the property (mine and Lake Lotus) later when I can. I will update this blog as soon as possible with any meaningful information.

Buckle up, Florida! Going to be a bumpy weekend.

Stay safe,

Andrew
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Next (planned) Banding Day: UNKNOWN/TBD

Sunday, September 3, 2017

No Banding September 3rd

NOTE: No banding September 3rd. Rain in the area.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 10th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where Did They All Go?

All of our migrants found last week have seemed to have moved on. Nothing but quiet while setting nets. Owls didn't even call until just around dawn and they were way back in the park. Most of our birds today were recaptured Carolina Wrens like this juvenile we have been recapturing for the past few weeks.

TK

It was mainly the babies being recaptured but we eventually got one of the old adult Carolina Wrens now molting its tail feathers.

TK

We had a couple visitors to the site today and as we were shutting down for the morning we did manage to get a new female Downy Woodpecker at Net 21.

TK

Alex is keen to join us in the future and got to release the Downy Woodpecker after processing.

TK

Watching weather for Sunday as Invest 92 swirls about Southern Florida. Hurricane Harvey could spin some birds our way but 92 could keep numbers in flux. We shall see. If we cannot band, I will post first thing Sunday AM.


NOTE: No banding August 27. Raining.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 3rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Migrants Moving In

We had a very dry week and we were hoping to have no troubles getting to Net 21 at the end of the lanes which were flooded last week. Then, Saturday afternoon gifted us with rains that lasted until around 10 PM. Hopes dimmed. No way we could get out there this week, right? Well, it was flooded, but we could skip over the small pass with a strong jump. Most of us with longer legs, anyway.

Pass

Andrew had brought in palettes in preparations for last week so he placed them in the muddy lane leading to the net, replacing one that was rotting away. Migrants were being heard all along the river so we didn't want to miss a chance to catch some at the end of the lanes. Turned out to be a good decision.

TK

Our first bird of the day was actually the last we banded last weekend. A juvenile Carolina Wren was in Net 2, behind the banding table.

Carolina Wren

The next trip to Net 21 yielded a large feeding flock of migrant. At one point we had 5 Prothonotary Warblers in view at one time which is rare. This birds are usually seen one at a time. Also out with them were Yellow-thoated, Yellow, Black and White, Prairie, and the Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parula, Red-eyed Vireo, woodpeckers, Titmice, Cardinals...all sorts of birds moving through.

While watching them, we captured one of the Prothonotary Warblers.

Prothonotary Warbler

The next bird that came in was another juvenile Carolina Wren near the table area.

Carolina Wren

Though the day was a bit sultry, it was fairly cool under the oaks. It is always a pretty morning out in the woods.

Sun Rays

Right next to where that shot was taken Christine noticed an Argiope with prey.

Argiope

For the first time ever, we captured a second Prothonotary Warbler in one day. They were all over by the lake today.

Prothonotary Warbler

Back at Net 21 a Black and White Warbler was feeding all over the trees but never went into the net just feet away. Still fun to watch as it moves along the trees.

Black and White Warbler

Still grateful for all of our clearing friends, the Air Potato Beetle. Lets us move through the days knowing they can clear the plants better than us as they gnaw through those invasive vines. Saves us so much time and energy.

Air Potato Beetle

While we were closing up for the morning, we found a Northern Parula in Net 21. That makes that net the main net of the day! Use to be it always was but last year it fell short. Fingers crossed that it returns to our most productive spot as it had been until last year. Just need to keep it above the water line.

Northern Parula

We did hear an Ovenbird today and this is the time we usually start to get them, along with Waterthrushes. Let the fun begin!!!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Session 10 Begins

It is hard to believe that the end of this Session will mark 10 years of banding at Lake Lotus. Today was the first day of the new Session and the birds captured are typical of this time of year. All local Carolina Wrens, just like the first week of last year. However, migrants are on the way already and we should begin to get some of them as soon as next week.

Inches of rain fell in the month of July but, fortunately, we only lost one palette to the flooding. Two more were brought in to replace that one and one that is falling apart. Sadly, more rain from last week flooded the end of the trail again so we could not make it out there today. The good news is that when we came out to clean up before this weekend we found that those previous floods actually cleared out the vegetation that can take a day to clear.

Little Wekiva

As for birds, the only game in town today were Carolina Wrens. All of the juveniles are out and about but still feeding with the adults. The first bird was disgraced with a poor cell phone shot since the SD card was out of the regular camera. Still, it was the first bird of the year, so...

Carolina Wren

The next bird was an adult but the last was another juvenile heavily molting into the adult stage and was more interesting. Feathers were found in Net 11 and probably was a Northern Cardinal but we did not get to band it.

Carolina Wren

There was a feeding flock seen during the morning that was full of interesting birds. Too bad that they were 30 feet up in the pines and oaks. Among them were migrants like Yellow-throated Vireos, Black and White Warblers, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and locals like a lot of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Tufted Titmice.

Our archives show that we typically begin to capture migrants in mid-August so we are hopeful. All poles are secured and anchor lines are in place, with new clothes pins marking each position. Time to record some data!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trail Cam in May

As we left for the end of Session 9 we grabbed the card from the trail cam an headed home to see if we captured anything of interest. One of the few daytime shots was one of the numerous Raccoons.

Raccoon

However, most of the action happens at night. Mammals come out in search of prey. They are always a mix, like this Coyote we have captured a shot of a few times already. We knew it was around because of scat findings and it is nice to have actual documentation.

Coyote

Opossum are a little harder to catch as they sprint through the site lines of the camera. It could be a potential food item for that Coyote seen earlier in the night.

Opossum

We are always excited to see our Bobcat wandering by on its jaunts around the property.

Bobcat

The strangest capture of the month was something more common. A domestic House Cat. What? Could be a feral stray or a pet of the neighbors just over the fence.

Domestic House Cat

We also had a couple of backs of humans that shouldn't be there. Definitely not rangers, but someone who made it over to this side. We will let the camera 'soak' for June and see what strolls by during the month while we are away.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Session 9 Ends

As expected, our final day was pretty slow. Migrants are gone and the days are getting back into the 90s. The day did get off to a bit of an exciting start when Susan spotted a larger bird in Net 21. It was our third Eastern Screech Owl of the year, all new birds.

Eastern Screech Owl

All of this year's Eastern Screech Owls have been red morphs. This guy just wanted to find a place to sleep and didn't want to fly off right away. we placed him on the table for a while and kept watch to make sure he was OK. A few minutes later we decided to place him on more natural footing on the ground and he flew off a minute later. 20 minutes later, he had circled around and ended up in Net 4 where he was released to fly deeper into the woods.

Eastern Screech Owl

A little later we recaptured a female Northern Cardinal. She was first banded two years ago while we were doing our banding demo for Earth Day on the other side of the river.

Northern Cardinal

Then we captured our third juvenile Carolina Wren of Spring. The local population seems to be doing well this year.

Carolina Wren

We wrapped up Session 9 with another female Northern Parula like last week.

Northern Parula

Now we take the next two months off to let the juveniles grow up and we escape the heat. We will have a couple of maintenance days in July before opening nets again the first Sunday in August when the first migrants begin to arrive. Time to total up the captures for what definitely seemed like a slower season for us. Once Hurricane Matthew flooded us last Fall we have sunk into a drought and bird numbers were down throughout the state. Most to the returning birds decided to head up Mexico and through Texas on their way North.

Until August, thanks to all of the great volunteers, visitors, and readers of the blog! Hard to believe that next time out will begin our 10th year at Lake Lotus. Take care!! ______________________________________
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quiet with an Exception

Our next to last Sunday for Session 9 was our last chance at finding any migrants but we could tell while setting nets that this might be more of an exploration day than anything else. It was awfully quiet. We soldiered on preparing for a slow set of walks.

Baby Barred Owl was up at dawn and skipping from branch to branch while other birds began to stir.

Barred Owl

The only noise we really heard was the feeding family of Titmice and there was also a couple of Chickadees calling with them. Been a while since they strayed to this side of the property. Then, as Andrew began his next run, he noticed a couple of birds in Net 15. Then another. And another. The flock had moved near the ground and were hitting the net one by one. One of the birds was one of the Carolina Chickadees! Becki had stopped by for her first visit in a while and was given banding duty.

Carolina Chickadee

This marked the first Carolina Chickadee we have banded since 2010!

Carolina Chickadee

We do catch more Tufted Titmice and when we do it is usually most of a family at the same time. Once one goes in and starts sounding an alarm the others fly in to investigate and also get snagged. Two of the five were juveniles, noted by the yellow gape at the edge of the bill.

Tufted Titmouse

The other Tufted Titmice were all adults.

Tufted Titmouse

As we finished up with the flock, Christine walked up with a recaptured male Northern Cardinal first banded a year ago and captured in the same Net 7.

Northern Cardinal

Then things got quiet again so we were left to photograph the Barred Owls. Momma was staying closer to where Baby was earlier near the nest tree.

Barred Owl

Poppa Barred Owl was staying by the river at Net 18

Barred Owl

Soon, we captured our second juvenile Carolina Wren of the Spring. Young wrens are more tan overall and have not yet molted into their wing spots.

Carolina Wren

Andrew jumped the river during the next lull in the action and walked out to the pier. One of the Limpkin pair was in the water probing for snails and mollusks while the other was standing on the railing. Hanging out with these two for nearly 10 years allowed a very close approach. Not bad for a cellphone shot from two feet away!

Limpkin

Momma Barred Owl was now eyeing the river herself as the morning drew to a close. Yet another shot from a few feet away as they are too used to us, as well.

Barred Owl

As we closed up for the day, a female Northern Parula was found down in Net 21.

Northern Parula

One more morning before we take the next months off. It will probably be just as quiet or more so.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 28th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Looks Like Migration is Over

Strong winds from the Southeast continue to usher birds through Mexico and up through Texas for Spring migration this year so we are having a difficult time capturing Northward birds. Ever since Hurricane Matthew the entire wind fields seem to have shifted leaving us fairly quiet.

Then, just when you keep hoping for a late migrant in the morning, you end up with a bat in your net instead. We usually get one every Spring and this one was particularly drawn to bitting everything that got near its mouth. With careful, slow movements, Andrew got his fingers around its neck and finally removed it from the net. It then proceeded to fly right back in for a repeat of the previous few minutes before it flew off towards the park.

Bat

Our first bird was a female Northern Cardinal with a brood patch. Local birds are still nesting even while many species are done and busy feeding fledglings.

Northern Cardinal

Our first newly hatched capture of the year was a juvenile Carolina Wren. May is our month to get all of the new babies on the property. Today we only got one but at times we get as many as eight at a time.

Carolina Wren

We have not heard or seen the fledged Barred Owl in the past two weeks, but William found the adults preening one another near the river.

Barred Owl

The next bird was brought in by the group as the light began to stream through the trees.

Carolina Wren

It was a recaptured Carolina Wren first banded years ago and still going strong.

Carolina Wren

One of our new visitors, Sarah, got to release the wriggly Carolina Wren to return to its foraging for the juveniles nearby.

Carolina Wren

Vegetation it growing like crazy out by the lake and spider webs were clinging to all of the taller structures like Cattails.

Spider webs

Primrose willows are even more aggressive and letting webs drape among them as the morning warmed.

Spider webs

An interesting site by the lake was an indentation in the spreading grasses at the mouth of the river leading into the lake. Pretty sure this was formed by a gator catching sunlight at some point. Or could it be a bear? Hmmm...

Grass

Dragonflies are in full display as the weather warms and William managed a great close up.

Dragonfly

Do you know one of the birds that feast on dragonflies? Green Herons. Herons in general, actually. They were busy picking them off for breakfast all morning.

Green Heron

William also found a lurking Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker by Net 21. They are common in the region but hard to find from time to time. They do breed around the region but for some reason we rarely see them close-up.

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Back by the table, Adrian made a rather early appearance. Our medium-sized American Alligator decided to find some heat pretty early in the morning.

American Alligator

Usually, the American Alligator stay in the lake or wait until near noon to bask. Adrian had another agenda.

American Alligator

Great-crested Flycatchers were gathering material and bathing nearby late in the day. Looking rather damp. As the crew watched, one of the Flycatchers dropped to the ground and then flew into the net.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatchers breed in Central Florida. We even placed nest boxes for them but they never used them. They are using other cavities around the property and now they are super active. This is the first we have captured in 5 years!

Great-crested Flycatcher

It was nice to have an opportunity to get some nice shots of the bird showing its crest after we banded it.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Nick extracted the bird and insisted on a shot. We don't blame him. It is an excellent bird to hold.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Just a bit later, William got a shot of our newly banded Great-crested Flycatcher returning to its activities down the net lanes.

Great-crested Flycatcher

So, who knows what we can end up with in the next two weeks? Winds are blowing far West, pushing birds away from us, and no rain for a while... However, we will still be around for two more weeks. Perhaps...
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 21st.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.