Sunday, September 16, 2018

Migrants on the Move

Hurricane Florence spared us but not North Carolina this year. Feels good to us since we had two years of major storms through our state that ruined main banding times here. We feel for those affected but glad we could have the storm steer some migrants in our direction today. We began by catching and extracting a couple of Brown Bats before the birds woke up, but that is a thing we need to deal with from time to time. No fingers were punctured by bat teeth.

Our first bird was a juvenile female Northern Cardinal who was not feeling like being photographed. At least she didn't bite.

Northern Cardinal

The 2nd Veery of the season was next. It was also a hatch-year bird.


We were feeling the time was right for Common Yellowthroats and visitors Louis and Mary called us over to say one was in Net 10. It was a female.

Common Yellowthroat

Shortly afterwards, a White-eyed Vireo was brought to the table. Usually, these Vireos have dull irises until adults but we have some here that still retain that coloration after reaching that age. The other clue is the inside of their bills that turn from dark gray to white as they age. This one is white so we call it an adult like others we have captured many times in a row over the years.

White-eyed Vireo

Andrew was explaining that when we catch Tufted Titmice it is usually the majority of the family at one time. Today, they were scattered about and we caught one right behind the table.

Tufted Titmouse

Ovenbirds were calling in the area and we caught one today.


Next, we caught another juvenile Carolina Wren that had yet to be banded this season.

Carolina Wren

15 minutes later, another was captured and we thought it was the same bird we just released but instead, it was a bird we banded a few weeks ago.

Carolina Wren

Possibly our youngest visitors got to release a Carolina Wren (with the help Mom). Blink and you miss it but we have a good batch of kids very interested in bird science this year.

Carolina Wren

Another Veery was captured just after we saw a few in the trees in the area after and Brown Thrasher escaped Net 13.


Our next Common Yellowthroat was a juvenile male. Mask is just forming.

Common Yellowthroat

Down by Net 18, Two-leaf Nightshade, (Solanum diphyllum) is fruiting. Christine got a shot of the berries. Birds, especially Cardinals feast on the fruit. It is poisonous to humans.

Twoleaf Nightshade

Once, again, a singular Tufted Titmouse was captured and banded.

Tufted Titmouse

Northern Parula are still calling and it was a nice surprise to get an adult male today.

Northern Parula

Our next bird was a classic adult White-eyed Vireo full of fat suggesting it was migrating through the area.

White-eyed Vireo

Andrew had been seeing a Red-femured Orb Weaver near the river for weeks but every time he tried to get a shot it scurried back to a hiding place in the leaves. Today, we had one spread out near Net 10.

Red-femured Orb Weaver

Our final bird of the day was a nice special addition to our list. The first banded Eastern Wood Pewee at Lake Lotus.

Eastern Wood Pewee

We see them this time of year before they head farther South. However, they usually stay at the tops of the trees. It must have been lured by some food source this morning. Good for us.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Flycatchers are typically a conundrum for us as we do not get that many. Measurements are always taken to verify the species and we we finally decided on Eastern Wood Pewee.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Adding to our confidence of the ID, our other visitor, Gigi, heard an Eastern Wood Pewee earlier in the day in the same spot. She got the opportunity to release our great bird today.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Florence is winding down and moving up the coast. We will see what the weather changes bring us next weekend when we are joined by the Lake County Audubon group that is scheduled to join us on Sunday.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 23rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Special Demo for Lake Lotus

We were invited to do a special demonstration event inside the Lake Lotus Park today like we would for Earth Day and it was scheduled for a select group that signed up through the Altamonte site. Later in the day, we were joined by our friends at the Avian Reconditioning Center to show their raptors. Being that it was just the beginning of migration we were happy to have the few birds we did capture today.

Birds were calling all over the property as we set nets starting at 7 AM but they quickly quieted down not too much later. There was 30 or so participants signed up, but half showed early on. Andrew began the tour with them to show how we set nets in hopes of catching birds.


Fortunately, as we neared the end of the net lane, an Ovenbird darted from the brush and hit the net in front of us so it could be shown how gentle the nets are to the birds. It was our 2nd Ovenbird of the season.


The crowd got to take shots of the process of banding as we processed the Ovenbird and had one of the kids release it.


The air was quickly filled with calls of Cicadas and the bird calls vanished. We continued our rounds and finally caught a Red-Eyed Vireo in the same net as the Ovenbird. Most of the crowd was listening to the presentation from ARC, but they were alerted to the new bird and they came out for the viewing.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Red-Eyed Vireos do breed in the park and we have been hearing them for a weeks. This one seems to be a juvenile judging by the brownish irises.

Red-Eyed Vireo

One of our visitors seems keen to be helping out in the future, and she got to release the Vireo after we got all of our data.

Red-Eyed Vireo

We have been watching the calendar carefully for the past few weeks and we know that there are certain species that arrive at certain times of the year. Just as we began to wonder if they would show up, we caught a Veery on the very week they typically arrive.


Most of our visitors had departed by this time so our only audience were the rangers. Ranger Patrick got the opportunity to release the Veery.


The day was getting late and the participants were departing so we began to shut down around 1 PM. We began at the far end of the nets and by the time we got to the front of the nets we had captured a new migrant. A male Black-throated Blue Warbler. A great end to the day!

Black-throated Blue Warbler

The ARC crew was also winding down and one of their group wandered out to see what we had brought back and got to release our new Black-throated Blue Warbler. We had to warn her to keep her raptors away from our tiny potential meals before she could participate! Nice to see Gordon, the Great-horned Owl, again after all these years.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Back to home next week. Hurricanes are streaming all over the place but seem to be out of our way this year.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 16th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

New Migrants and a Surprise Baby

It was a pretty quiet day and we actually did not catch many of our birds until 8:30. That little flurry then was pretty close to the end of our morning.

First bird was a recaptured adult male Northern Cardinal. Shortly afterwards, a recaptured Carolina Wren was processed.

Northern Cardinal

We have been waiting for the return of Louisiana and Northern Waterthrush. We should have been capturing them earlier and just when we were about to give up on them Melanie found a Northern Waterthrush in Net 1.

Northern Waterthrush

That bird was closely followed by our 2nd Ovenbird of the season. This was a hatch-year bird.


Then main surprise of the day was a recently fledged Painted Bunting. Had to go back in the archives to find that it was 6 years ago that we caught a pair of fledglings near the same spot. The following year we also caught one juvenile bird. These buntings are definitely breeding in the area.

Painted Bunting

A small patch of Wild Potato Vine (Ipomoea pandurata) are growing just behind the table and Connie spotted them blooming this morning.

Moon Flower

We will not be banding at our usual spot next week. The park has asked us to do a demo day in the park on Saturday for a special event. The beginning of the event is limited to a few guests, but the park opens to the public at their usual hours and we will band for a while until it seems birds are no longer flying for the morning. We will return to our typical banding spot on the 16th.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Saturday, September 8th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

First Migrants in the Books

Not the most spectacular day in the woods, but a fairly normal end to August. Finally getting some migrants lower into the nets but still mainly capturing local birds.

As Andrew was getting to the last net, he was met by a very large Bull Frog in the path that let him attempt a dark morning shot.

Bull Frog

Our largest species captured of the day were Carolina Wrens. Some were new and others were recaptures.

Carolina Wren

Apparently, there were heavy rains nearby overnight and the water levels were quite high. It seemed like the perfect setup for Waterthrushes and others but none of the expected species showed themselves. There were, however, a large number of Red-eyed Vireos around today.


Our best friends, the Air Potato Beetles, were out in huge numbers and mating and devouring their host plants. Thanks, beetles!

Air Potato Beetle

Just after we began wondering were the Ovenbirds were, we caught one in Net 2.


One of our other Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

The Bird-of-the-Day was captured early on. This is the first Yellow-throated Warbler ever banded at Lake Lotus. We used to get several at Wekiwa Springs. Nice to add it to our growing list of captures here.

Yellow-throated Warbler

If the approaching storm front holds off a bit we should be getting more and more migrants. Hoping the winds stay a bit calm with the drier conditions this week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 2nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Locals Captured, Migrants Seen.

More quiet than expected. Checking on the records, things start to ramp up next week. Always seems like it should be earlier. Sometimes it is, actually. Some migrants are showing up in different parts of the state, but we caught none today. All locals.

We got a real bad cell phone shot of caterpillars that Susan discovered by Net 14. Searching around the web seems to suggest that they are Io Moth caterpillars all clumped together.

Io Moth

It was very quiet through much of the morning and then we finally had Net 16 holding 3 birds. The Cardinal escaped before we could get there but the other two were Carolina Wrens. One was a juvenile that was first banded in the Spring.

Carolina Wren

The second was and new adult and we can't believe it hadn't been captured earlier. It was getting rid of its brood path heading into Fall.

Carolina Wren

One of our new rangers, Corey is documenting things around the park, including our banding site, and he got to release both of the Carolina Wrens this morning. We are looking forward to seeing and helping his documentation as an upgrade to the park's information.

Carolina Wren

While the nets were being checked, the ladies found a juvenile Opossum up in the trees next to Net 18. All sorts of mammals roam about the site morning, noon, and night.


Kate found one of our migrants seen today. A Yellow Warbler out in the marsh. While we were extracting the Wrens, we had a Black and White Warbler drop low, and we saw a few Redstarts, too.

Yellow Warbler

More first of Fall migrants should arrive next week (knock nets) and then we get more and more busy through October. Just keep the storms away!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 26th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"W" is for...


Apparently, it rained hard overnight in the Lake Lotus area. Morning skies were completely clear before dawn but the property was saturated and did not really dry out all morning. Not a good situation for banding in our experience. Birds tend to stay tucked away, unless they are rubbing against the soaked leaves to bathe like Hummingbirds were doing. Otherwise, we were soggy.


We did not hear many birds throughout the morning. Our one (!) banded bird was a super worn molting female Northern Cardinal. She has seen better dresses but is coming out of Mommy mode so she will be much prettier soon.

Northern Cardinal

Then things got quiet. We did catch a juvenile Carolina Wren, but it escaped the bag on the way back to the table. However, it flew up to a snag nearby and made Andrew notice something up in the vegetation above. A large Air Potato vine was reaching up about 40 feet high and it seemed to be trailing something underneath. Andrew hauled it out of the tree and was surprised to find it was flowers hanging there.

We have observed Air Potato in the area for more than a decade and none of us have ever seen one blooming. Seemed they only spread by tubers, which is mainly true, but those had to start from somewhere, right. Chicken and egg thing. Potatoes come from somewhere and the ones you get in the store do bloom.

Time for research! According to the IFAS Extension of the University of Florida: "Although air potato rarely flowers in Florida, the plant can produce small, fragrant flowers that arise from the leaf axils and grow in loose clusters up to four inches long. Male and female flowers are found on separate plants. No fruits or male flowers have ever been observed in Florida."


Air Potato

The Air Potato Beetles are appearing in larger numbers in many areas of the property. They need to catch up!

Air Potato Beetle

One of our resident Limpkin was near the marsh just across the fence and wandering to and fro. No calling this morning.


There were many Grasshoppers hanging out on the wet grasses waiting to dry out, like this brown one. So many species, so little time for research this week...


The wooded area behind the net lanes have undergone big changes over the Summer. Grape vines have covered vast swathes of the forest floor and many old snags and branches have fallen during the many storms in the past few months. Where you find downed tree material, you soon find fungus feeding on it.


Nearby, an Orb weaver (probably a Tropical Orb weaver) was enjoying a late morning meal. Closer inspection revealed it to be the last of some dragonfly species.

Orb Weaver

There are several patches of Sensitive Briar spreading throughout the lanes and back in the pine flat woods. This one was being visited by a metallic green bee.

Sensitive Briar

We are going to end with a great collection of Kate's macro work this morning among the grasses. Not a ton of time to track down exact species, so if anyone knows then we can update later.

We do recognize Earwigs. Don't see them all the time as they shuffle around in the leaf litter, but we remember being terrified by them as children while exploring in the woods. Not dangerous. So they say...


Another spider for the morning. Looks related to Long-jawed Orb-weavers but hard to tell from this angle. Nice droplet web, though.


A two-fer! A Grasshopper and Leaf Hopper having a chat. Possibly a Rosemary Grasshopper?

Grasshopper and Leaf Hopper

Beetle time! There are a lot of beetles in the state in all colors and shapes. Most of them are overlooked. Kate did not miss them. We could take insect portraits all day, if we chose to.


Ok, maybe a hopper? Too cute to pass up despite those spines!


Beetles have to start somewhere. This one is in the larval stage which looks a lot like Ladybugs before they form their round, spotted carapace.


So...not skunked, but perplexed. Migrants should be in the nets by now. Winds are odd to the North and the Pacific is super stormy while the Atlantic sleeps. Just need one more big gust to shift toward the southeast. Hoping tomorrow starts the more interesting part of the early season.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.