Sunday, November 27, 2016

All Quiet

How quiet was it today? So quiet that Andrew spent 2 1/2 hours clearing Primrose Willow down by the lake. We did eventually net a couple of Gray Catbirds and it was a very pretty morning.

Gray Catbird

A little later we had a Carolina Wren and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Net 2 behind the table. The last we had was a male but this is a lovely female.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

American Alligators have been scarce for a while. Once the sunlight made it over the trees and small one climbed out of the neighbors pond to warm up.

American Alligator

Now that the river levels have lowered the Limpkin pair is constantly moving up from the lake to feed. They are basically oblivious to our wanderings. So much so that you have to back up to get a little of the bird in a photograph.

Limpkin

Our last bird captured was a House Wren.

House Wren

Andrew swung through Maitland Center to see if our Winter friends had returned. Indeed, 6 Hooded Mergansers were feeding in the parking area pond. They will stay here until the Spring.

Hooded Merganser

At the same pond there is almost always an Anhinga getting all cranky that you stopped to take a picture. So, she gets his taken, too!

Anhinga

Hopefully we can have more activity next week. Goldfinches are back and other warblers are around. Just need them where we are.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 4th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Getting Chilly With It

Looks like it might be a colder year this year. We got started today with the temperature in the low 40s. Last year we had to wear a jacket maybe one day all season. Oh, well. Perhaps it will bring us some interesting birds.

Today was Gray Catbird day. They were the most captured species throughout the morning.

Gray Catbird

House Wrens were calling in various locations but we only netted a single bird that was first banded two years ago.

House Wren

Just when it occurred to us that we had yet to hear a single Eastern Phoebe, one found a net down the lanes.

Eastern Phoebe

We caught a couple of Hermit Thrushes. Both were juveniles and very fluffy against the cold.

Hermit Thrush

Time for a trip out to the lake. Skies were super clear and Moon was nice and crisp.

Moon

Myrtle Warblers (Yellow-rumped Warbler) are increasing in numbers and are now found mainly coming through the marsh and out over the lake.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

At the mouth of the river a Pied-billed Grebe fed in the shallow water in front of the fishing pier.

Pied-billed Grebe

A Tricolored Heron joined the grebe after sneaking through the grasses.

Tricolored Heron

Cattails are shedding and they are getting plenty of help from the increasing winds.

Cattail

As stated, Myrtle Warbler numbers are increasing and we finally got our first one of the season.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

Once we banded the Myrtle Warbler Richard called for a group photo.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

On our final net check we got a handsome Swamp Sparrow to round out the day.

Swamp Sparrow

It should be a little warmer next weekend. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 27th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pea Soup

A dense fog dropped into the area as we arrived at the banding site before dawn. It made for an eerie setting for putting the nets up. There was no sound save for occasional drips from the trees as the condensation gathered. Would the birds sleep in? Eventually, our Barred Owl pair called to each other before reconnecting.

We almost didn't see our first bird in the gloom. It was at the end of Net 6. This is not a terribly productive net but it paid off this morning. It captured only the third Wood Thrush we have banded here.

Wood Thrush

An Eastern Phoebe was brought in from Net 21 by the lake. They are still calling all over the property.

Eastern Phoebe

Back next to the woods in Net 4 was a recaptured White-eyed Vireo we first banded a month ago. They tend to nip.

White-eyed Vireo

Things remained pretty quiet. Time for a trip out to the lake. Did we mention it was foggy this morning?

Fog

In front of the fishing pier was a small flock of birds. A juvenile Wood Stork, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, and Common Gallinules were feeding side by side.

Wood Stork

A Great Blue Heron soon joined them. The river had deposited a lot of sediment in front of the pier. The water is getting more shallow here after every flooding rain.

Great Blue Heron

An Eastern Phoebe was taking advantage of Primrose Willow stalks to perch and hunt from.

Eastern Phoebe

Over in the cattails, a Marsh Wren played peek-a-boo. The Willow tree next to the Wren was later filled with birds once the fog began to burn off, including Orange-crowned, Prairie, Myrtle (Yellow-rump), and Palm Warblers, Blue-headed, and White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroats, and House and Carolina Wrens. Northern Cardinals were busy eating Tallow seeds.

Marsh Wren

Even when Blue-gray Gnatcatchers drop down right in front of you they don't sit for long. Too many bugs to snatch!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Bowl and doily Spider (Frontinella communis) are on property pretty much year-round but they are especially easy to see when the fog is around.

Bowl and Doily Spider

We captured a couple of House Wrens. This one was first banded 2 years ago.

House Wren

We have been waiting for the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the net and today was the day.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We tend to capture more females than males so it was great to have that shock of red that gives the Ruby-crowned Kinglet its name in our hands.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

As we were taking the nets down we captured two more birds. Gray Catbirds were mewing in the vegetation all morning but were not flying around too much.

Gray Catbird

This is the third week we have banded Hermit Thrushes. They are definitely back in the neighborhood.

Hermit Thrush

Temperatures are slowly dropping as we head through the month. The upper 40s are forecast in about a week. Time to break out the jackets.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

First Robin of Fall

It was a cloudy, breezy morning following a light rain overnight. We were hoping the low cloud cover would bring us some birds in the nets but it was a very quiet day. There were a few surprises along the way. while setting the nets, Andrew saw some movement in the dark. It seemed like a local Swamp Rabbit as it moved ahead of him but then it fluttered into the air for a couple of feet and settled back to the ground. Maybe a Night jar? As he pulled the net farther out of the bag and got closer it fluttered again and returned to the ground again a few feet away. Strange.

Once the net was secured to the far pole he walked closer to get the headlamp to throw some light on the critter. We have been waiting for American Robins to return and here and, in the center of the net lane, was our first! It was not clear if the bird was in distress or just waiting for daylight but it eventually scurried into the grass and was never seen again. Many small flocks of Robins were seen and heard all morning.

Hermit Thrushes were our main bird today and our first was captured just after dawn. A second was captured shortly afterwards and it turned out to be the same bird we caught last week that was first banded as a juvenile in December of 2015. It was even in the same net as last week. It might just love the Beauty Berry in that stretch.

Hermit Thrush

Lewis, a Seminole County Audubon member, was visiting today and got the honor of releasing one of our Hermit Thrushes.

Hermit Thrush

It has been rather dry since Matthew departed but the light rain must have been enough to rouse this clump of fungus in the middle of the path.

Fungus

Our second surprise of the day was caught not long after other visitors arrived. A Painted Bunting! Nice to see a bright green in between all the brown birds of late.

Painted Bunting

Nothing makes us happier than seeing how happy releasing a bird can make other people.

Painted Bunting

Our final bird was yet another Hermit Thrush. Long ago e had trouble pinning an ID on a Thrush. as it a Swainson's or a Hermit. It was a confusing mix due to overall coloring. hat we learned that day became our mantra: "Tail, Tail, Tail." Hermit Thrushes has a significantly redder tail than all other thrushes we band.

Hermit Thrush

The last surprise of the day was more of a work. Andrew, being a "I need to get there..." guy, pushed through the upended tangle of vegetation left by the hurricane and overgrowth to reach the edge of Lake Lotus. It will still require a lot of cutting to make that path more passable for others but there were more birds seen out there for the day.

Lake Lotus

One of those birds was a male Anhinga sitting atop the willows. It eventually decided human encroachment was too much flew off toward the Window on the Lake pictured above.

Anhinga

Once there, it encountered another male and the two engaged one another in a fighting match for position taking them out over the lake for a fight for a proper branch to dry out. Both agreed to disagree but found suitable branches.

Anhinga

A new world awaits us as we get through the election. One thing is certain. Birds don't care and we don't judge out in the wild. Until it is broken. Vote!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spookily Quiet

The day before halloween and the pre-dawn set up was eerily still. Barely anything was moving. Nocturnal insects were not calling or chirping. Just dark. And quiet.

We did not have a lot of activity today but there was a familiar species arriving right on time. The first two birds we captured were Hermit Thrushes. The first was a new bird and the second was a bird we first banded last December.

Hermit Thrush

Next up was a female Black-throated Blue Warbler. We haven't caught a male in weeks.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Christine and Connie were out at the nets for a while but eventually returned from Net 21 and brought back an American Redstart.

American Redstart

Eastern Phoebes were calling all over the property, especially down by the lake. None wanted to come down to participate in our endeavors.

Eastern Phoebe

Only a couple of Gray Catbirds were heard today and we captured one just before the nets were folded away.

Gray Catbird

In the same net, a House Wren flew in, too.

House Wren

This bird put on a nice display and allowed us to photograph all of the upper feathers. One point of ID we point out about wrens is that House Wrens are born with white spots on their wings and lose them as they become adults (as this bird is) while Carolina Wrens develop white spots as they age.

House Wren

The crew was discussing Bald Eagles and if they were nesting yet. Andrew has a pair that nest near his house and swung by to find the female at the nest. Last year they failed for the first time to rear a brood. Hopefully, they can get back on track this season.

Bald Eagle

Our first Myrtle (Yellow rump) Warbler was seen today and Palm Warblers have been increasing in number so we are hoping to begin banding them soon. Maybe next week?

NOTE: Next Sunday is the time to Fall Back for Daylight Saving Time. Check those clocks!
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.