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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lots of Visitors, a Few birds

To start with what could be our last cool morning of the season, new visitors began joining us at dawn and we got our first bird of the day which was a nice surprise. A female Indigo Bunting. We thought we might get our last one of the Spring on Earth Day so it was nice to get one a couple of weeks later.

Indigo Bunting

One of our new volunteers, Nikko, got to release our newly banded Indigo Bunting.

Indigo Bunting

Next up was a female Northern Cardinal. She had a brood patch so the nest cannot be too far away.

Northern Cardinal

Shortly afterward, Susan and Phyllis had a couple of birds in Net 19. Here, they extract a recaptured Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wren

The entire crowd gathered round and Andrew struck back with a photo of his own. Still, the camera could not capture all of them as they flanked both sides of the table. It was great to have Elizabeth, Christine's friend from the UK in light blue, returning for a visit.

Crowd

The adult Carolina Wren did not show a brood patch as they usually breed a bit earlier than other species in the area and their brood is likely already fledged and hiding on the property.

Carolina Wren

Returning visitor Eileen got to release the Wren.

Carolina Wren

The other bird caught at the same time was a female American Redstart.

American Redstart

Christine got to supply the nightmare of the morning. A large spider was on Net 12. Probably a Huntsman's Spider.

Spider

As Andrew jumped the river to sneak away into the woods, as he is prone to do (ask his Mom), Nick got a shot of the escape.

Andrew

While out on the fishing pier, Andrew had a bird fly by him and into the woods on the other side. He was thrilled to identify the bird and couldn't wait to tell the crowd. Turns out that they soon got a better view of the bird up near the river. It was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! Haven't seen one of them for a while but they do live here year round. Luckily, Rachel got a shot of it before it flew off again.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

She also captured a shot of one of the Swallow-tailed Kites cruising high overhead.

Swallow-tailed Kite

There was another couple of good finds just after that. There were a pair of female Blackpoll Warblers high in the trees (no photos) but the other bird we were thrilled to see was nearby. As everyone headed back down to find it again we spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk on the prowl which probably explained the lack of smaller birds around.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The real find of the morning was our first ever seen Scarlet Tanager on property for us. It gave everyone a nice view for a little longer before flying over to the park side across the river.

Scarlet Tanager

Our final bird of the day was a male American Redstart. There were several seen today as they make their way back North to breed.

American Redstart

Rachel got to release the American Redstart. Think she hated it...

American Redstart

Just before we packed up, a male Pileated Woodpecker (told by the red stripe near the bill) landed on the snag next to the banding table before flying off in search of food.

Pileated Woodpecker

We were hoping for a little more activity but the birds that were around were mainly high in the trees today and NEXRAD radar shows that most migrating birds are streaming straight up Mexico into Texas instead of over on the eastern coast. Three weeks to go in our Session 9 before our Summer break but we can still get some interesting birds in the next couple of weeks.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 14th.
All nets will be opened by 6:05 A.M.