Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Sprinkling of Migrants

We were spared the wrath of Dorian but now we wait to see how the next weekend plays out. New models forecast a probable new system forming before we try to head out on our following Sunday. Time will tell and check back here if we have to cancel the 15th.

Meanwhile, we started our day by catching our next migrant. Another female Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

The next bird in was a local. A juvenile Brown Thrasher. You can easily tell juvenile birds by their duller colored iris. Adult bird irises are super yellow.

Brown Thrasher

This young bird is heading into its next molt and we can see the pin feathers coming in on the wings.

Brown Thrasher

Next up, a new adult Northern Cardinal. Always surprised we haven't banded them all before. It was also going into a new molt as you can see around the face.

Northern Cardinal

Richard brought in a new Wax Myrtle to place behind Net 19. Long time readers will notice that they dug out the large Camphor tree a few months ago. This tree will hopefully bring in more migrants to the area. Alyssa helped dig the tree in as Kate and Richard supervised.

Wax Myrtle

Connie followed up by watering the new addition to the property.

Wax Myrtle

The air was very helpful for birds to continue to head South so we were not surprised to be waiting for anything to decide to stop by. So, we were very happy to finally capture a Louisiana Waterthrush. We usually get them in August as they are one of the earliest migrants in our location. We will take it.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Heard on property for the past few weeks, but not captured, we next gat a Northern Waterthrush minutes later. Wish we could have had them both in hand as we have before to compare. You can see the differences between both by scrolling up and down. Louisiana Warblers are brighter white and Northerns are more buff.

Northern Waterthrush

Check back in Saturday night/Sunday morning to see of we can band Sunday. Fingers are crossed as we edge toward typical peak migration.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 15th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Birds of Uncertainty

Here in Florida, we watched and waited on which way the weather would take Hurricane Dorian. South Florida was in the bullseye until upper-level winds halted him in his tracks and kept it over the Bahamas. For days. Bad news for the citizens on those islands , but it did spare us the Category 5 winds in Florida. Forecasts stayed constant in predicting a Wednesday arrival so we headed out.


Our first bird of the day was an Ovenbird. We only had a few birds during the day, but at least they were mostly migrants.Can you tell the humidity was up? Glasses and camera lenses were fogging up super early.


The second migrant of the day was a female Common Yellowthroat. A little early, but we will take it.

Common Yellowthroat

A second Ovenbird soon followed before things grew quiet. Skies were far too nice to have birds stopping their movement South. We did spot an American Redstart and a Black-and-White Warbler foraging during the morning.


Guest joined us in a while and the young kids had no problem bringing in a Ring-necked Snake found along the path back to the table.

Ring-necked Snake

Out of nowhere, a cast of an insect fell onto a chair arm and had us all wondering what it might have come from. On closer inspection, it appears to be a cast-off of an exoskeleton of a young Praying Mantis.


As we began to close up for the day we caught our final bird of the morning. The remaining crowd gathered around to watch the record keeping.


The bird was a Tufted Titmouse first banded two years ago.

Tufted Titmouse

Now that Dorian has ripped up to the North, radar indicates large numbers of birds heading through Florida. Hopefully, we can begin real migrant captures next Sunday. Stay tuned!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 8th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Migrants in the House

The end of August usually brings in our first real migrants so we strode into the woods with high hopes. Humidity ramped up by 7 and we first caught a pair of Carolina Wrens. One was a new juvenile and the other was recaptured juvenile.

Carolina Wren

Most of the day was fairly quiet so the crew took a bit of time to add to Olivia's Garden. As we headed down there, we were shocked to find that some Garden Fairies have been around since last week!. Dozens of new plantings are all over the place from the garden to Net 18. Hmmmm... We are thankful to our mysterious benefactors.


Noticed along the lanes was an emerging Cicada next to Net 1. We hear them more and more with the high temperatures and humidity but this was the first photo of one this season.


Back in Olivia's Garden, Sector 2, we discovered a juvenile Assassin Bug laying in wait for a meal.

Assassin Bug

Migrants were starting to be heard as the morning progressed. Loud chipping led Andrew to a Northern Waterthrush at Net 18 but it would not fly toward the nets. Fortunately, he soon found a Worm-eating Warbler in Net 17.

Worm-eating Warbler,

Our newest volunteer, Shannen, got to release the Worm-eating Warbler after processing. Migration is definitely in progress.

Worm-eating Warbler,

As we began to close up for the morning, Andrew spotted that a bird was in Net 22 as he approached. Oddly, a Northern Cardinal flew over and hovered over the bird before retreating to the trees. The new capture was a Red-eyed Vireo. They have been heard all over for weeks but they rarely drop low enough to hit the nets.

Red-Eyed Vireo

The crowd gathered around to marvel at the bright red eyes of one of our local breeding birds.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Our other new visitor, Corey, got to release the adult Red-Eyed Vireo.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Down at Net 17, the crew found an Ovenbird as we wrapped the morning. They were being heard earlier and the directive was given to get one before the day was out. Mission complete!


More migrants should be on the way into September. You never know where the patterns will lead us.

NOTE: Hurricane Dorian is lurking out there. Final path is not set as of this posting, but we will update if we are heading out on Sunday or not by Saturday. He will either shift right or plow through the banding site. Fingers are crossed for it to miss us.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 1st.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Quiet. Real Quiet...

Well, at least it was not a sauna this week. However, it was very slow, as are most mid-August outings. The day was mostly overcast and extremely quiet. Very few birds were seen or heard throughout the morning, including locals, other than Cardinals and Titmice.

Speaking of Cardinals, our only bird captured and banded today was a male captured in the newly reinstated Net 6. Many males in the area are showing signs of extensive molt around the head which has been associated with mites. The birds shed all of their head feathers to rid themselves of the pests and then grow out a nice crest again in short order.

Northern Cardinal

Just previous to the Cardinal, Christine found a Leopard Frog in the nets. This happens once every couple of years. It was released easily and safely.

Leopard Frog

On our rounds, the crew spotted a blob up in the Cypress trees. Closer inspection revealed it to be a dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk! These birds show up very rarely and Andrew found one not far away 10 years ago.

Red-tailed Hawk

Skippers have been enjoying the new Porterweed in the garden. We are still looking to ID this species, but they all seem to be the same variety.


While we were wrapping up the day, sharp eyes found a caterpillar on some Beautyberry leaves. It was a Sphinx Moth caterpillar and we are not sure that we have seen a more nightmarish set of chompers!

Sphinx Moth

Records show that the most consistent migrant arrivals arrive next week. Low pressure systems are forming East and West but we are hoping for the North to be clear enough to allow birds to flow this direction.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 25th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Welcome Back to the Sauna

How quickly we forget. August is super humid. So humid that we start sweating hard before dawn. And then for the rest of the entire morning. Water or other hydrates are highly recommend when hanging out in the woods this time of year.

That said, we set nets and waited for the yields of the banding day. Oddly, it was very quiet today. Last week we were treated by many juvenile Carolina Wrens. They were seen and heard all morning but none crossed the trails. We had to wait over an hour to catch our first bird, a juvenile Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

So, when birds are taking care to stay out of the heat more than us, we get to tending to the trails. Andrew ridded our Holly trees of Muscadine Grape vines and Jenny and Richard worked on prepping the area behind Net 19 for future plantings of Wax Myrtles.


Over at Oliva's Garden, Connie set about clearing the overgrowth that occurred in the past 2 months. Plants set in last May seem to be adapting quite well and pollinators are showing up in good numbers.


Our little patch of Rhexia is still blooming strong between Nets 10 and 22.


While checking Net 2, we noticed that the sunlight was illuminating Leather Flower seeds hanging next to the path.

Leather Flower

Everyone loved the discovery of Winged Sumac in full bloom by Net 19. Tony Bees were in full force and all of them were sporting legs full of pollen. This seems to be the first time this tree has been in bloom and is a good source of pollen in the area.

Winged Sumac

One Cardinal escaped at Net 10 earlier and shortly afterward Christine got to remove a Ruby-throated Hummingbird from the newly resumed Net 6. Again, we cannot band Hummingbirds as it requires a special license so she was safely released immediately. Other hummers were seen during the morning.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Other sightings of the day were American Redstarts and a family of Pileated Woodpeckers, one adult and two juveniles. Red-eyed Vireos were heard in several spots today.

Hopefully more migrants begin to arrive next week. Records show we should see Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, and other Warblers moving into the area soon depending on the weather patterns.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 18th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Session 12 Begins

Time to get ready for Session...12. I know our hand-made calendars say Session 11, but triple checking the years, this makes our 12th start. Time flies!

Regardless, we set out the week before to deploy all 10 new nets graciously purchased by Christine and Richard at the beginning of the Summer break.


The previous week, Andrew stopped by to check out the status of the site and found all of the Guinea Grass mowed down last Spring had grown by leaps and bounds.

Guinea Grass

Thankfully, the rangers found some time in their schedule to swing by and mow the property back to a clearer status.

Guinea Grass

Oddly, the only thing they did not mow over was a patch of Rhexia, noticed last week, that is blooming between Nets 22 and 10. There has only been one sighting of this flower in the years past that was one flower next to Net 17 just up the rise.


Richard and the crew spent most of the morning clearing Net 4 which is off the main trail and has been overgrown by vines between the Gallberry trees and the pines.


Net 13 has been in a woeful condition for years and Andrew replaced it with Christine's help.


Down at the new end of the lanes, Connie and Phyllis hand clipped the spots that the rangers mower can't reach. Looking forward to some Waterthrushes heading through there in the next week or so.


The opening day of the banding season resumed the following week and, as is typical, found local birds in the nets. Our most common birds for the beginning of August are Carolina Wren and Northern Cardinal. Oddly, Cardinals were rarely heard of seen today. Wrens? We had those, for sure. Our first bird of the day was the first of 4, this one a juvenile.

Carolina Wren

Our 2nd Carolina Wren was also a juvenile but it was so tangled that we extracted and released it. But it was soon followed by yet another at Net 2.

Carolina Wren

Connie discovered and Sphinx Moth in Net 22 and had to take care to remove it back into the wild.

Carolina Wren

Then our 4th Carolina Wren. Another juvenile.

Carolina Wren

Suddenly, we had a break in the action for an hour or so. Rains had been wide spread this past week and all of the runoff goes right through the property. A week ago the river was at a typical level but today it was creeping higher along the banks.


Good news, as noted on earlier stops over the Summer, is that the Air Potato Beetles are doing quite well all over the property. Most of the potato vines are either skeletal or still being feasted upon. Breeding pairs are all over the place.

Air Potato Beetle

Many butterflies are around and Christine got a shot of one of the White Peacocks hanging out by the river.

White Peacock

We ended the morning with the Bird-of-the-Day: a Prothonotary Warbler. Records show we only catch them in either Aug/Sept or April. Migration is on.

Prothonotary Warbler

Other migrants were seen today, such as American Redstarts. We always forget that they are already on the move. Now we power through the heat and move toward the Fall.

Seems like we have shifted to our usual Florida Summer for once in a long while. Everyone seems to think it is hotter than ever, but if you look back...this is Florida in August. Bring your water and get home before the afternoon!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 11th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.