Sunday, December 20, 2009

Any Christmas Presents?

Not too many special gifts before Christmas at Lake Lotus. We did capture a few birds. Northern Cardinals, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet but spent more time watching hundreds of American Robins fly over and then we set to work removing invasive trees.

Over the past few weeks, Andrew has been gathering discarded rocks and cinder blocks and has begun forming a fence in front of the banding table. It is taking shape quite nicely. Notice the larger white block just behind the fence? That will become our official Wekiva Basin plaque.


Some folks thought it was too cold today.

Cold Maria

Down toward the lakeside, Andrew and Richard fell the last trunk of a non-native China Berry tree. Timber!


We also captured a very cold dragonfly. Once removed from the net Christine placed it on a downed tree limb where the insect rested, awaiting the Sun to warm it up. Thanks to friend Paul Hueber for IDing it as a Twilight Darner.

Twilight Darner!

We will NOT be banding December 27th or January 3rd. We can all enjoy a bit more sleep for once!

UPDATE: Ranger Cindy Falk sent along a photo of some Lake Lotus visitors across the river from us. A mother and cub Black Bear! Wonder if they ever cross the river? We will make extra noise when setting nets during our next session just in case.

Next Banding Day: Sunday, January 10th.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We will open nets by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Full Day of Adventure

Back to the regular early start and back to getting some of the usual suspects. More birds this week than the past two and a lot of other interesting finds along the way.

Regardless of the number of birds captured, the views can be spectacular.

River View

Just across the river are ripening Tangerines making us hungry.


Finally hearing the Catbirds calling up and down the river today and we caught some.

Gray Catbird

We also started catching more Hermit Thrushes

Hermit Thrush

We also got a new Carolina Wren. Thought we had them all!

Carolina Wren

Down near the pier we recaptured a feisty beautiful male Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

Rain has been moving through the state again and has resulted in a large crop of mushroom. Especially eye-catching were these yellow versions.


They seemed to be everywhere just off of the beaten path.


Maria did a great job of capturing their beauty.


We also marveled at the wonderful spiderwebs formed in the many seeding grasses all morning.

Spider Web

Also, something has been gnawing on the lid to one of our nest boxes? Squirrels?

Nest box

On the way out of the area we found many more Ceraunus Blue butterflies like the one we discovered first last week.

Ceraunus Blue

Always an adventure!

Still checking weather to make a firm decision on the start time but leaning to keeping it early again this week. Check back Friday for a change, if needed.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, December 20th.

We will open nets by 6:45 A.M.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One is the Loneliest Number

Our experimental later time start did not yield any new numbers of birds. Then again, numbers seem down all around so maybe it just didn't matter. We did have some good, needed rain a couple of days before which greatly increased the level of the Little Wekiva.


After a lot of waiting around on this nice morning we did catch one bird. It was brought back to the banding table and we found this little guy waiting for us.


Green Anoles are disappearing in the state, being displaced by the Cuban Anole. Cuban Anoles do not shift color like the native green variety. This one was on our blue chair and couldn't decide which color to choose.

On to the sole bird of the day. A Blue-headed Vireo!

Blue-headed Vireo

This is only the second of this species to be captured at this location but always a welcome sight. As you can tell in this photo, this bird was carrying no extra fat deposits on it's undersides.

Blue-headed Vireo

Beautiful birds.

Blue-headed Vireo

As Andrew hands off the bird to Ivana to release it, it gave her a nice little nip!

Blue-headed Vireo

We did get some stone wall building done around the table entrance and more invasive plant IDs for later removal but not much else. On the way out, we did find a nice little butterfly to observe. A Ceraunus Blue. Thanks to Randy Snyder for the ID!

Ceraunus Blue.jpg

Next week will we switch back to the early start time as the weather will be warmer and we will try to get the early risers.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, December 13th.

We will open nets by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We woke up for this?

At least we had some good company on this chilly morning. The birds decided to sleep in as maybe we should have. Only two birds were captured today and both were recaptures.

Fortunately our guests, Roy and Andy Thatcher, were there to see both of them. Seems whenever we have visiting ringers from the UK the birds stay out of the nets. We did share a lot of laughs and enjoyed the morning sharing stories.

Here, Roy checks out the House Wren before releasing it back to the woods.


This Wren was a recapture and was caught right before dawn.

House Wren

A bit later we recaptured a Gray Catbird. This bird was banded a few weeks ago and has been caught again the past two weeks. Must like us.

Gray Catbird

Charles brought his granddaughter, Anissa, out and she had a chance to pose with our Catbird.

Gray Catbird

Maria brought out her family. Some folks would definitely rather still be in bed!


Or maybe just somewhere warmer...


Next week will try an new experiment and show up later in the morning so the bugs have a chance to wake up and then hopefully we will have more birds flying around until noon. Take note of the new start time.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, December 6th.

We will open nets by 8:30 A.M.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kinda Quiet

A good dawn chorus had us crossing our fingers but as has been the case the past few weeks we got most birds very early before the area grew very quiet. Right a dawn we did catch a Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

An interesting catch just before dawn was this Eastern Pheobe. Usually we catch them later in the morning and we did get another a couple of hours later. This one must have wanted and early start or trying to get the best perch before other birds.

Eastern Pheobe

One more early bird was this House Wren. Just noticed that the bill is a bit crossed.

House Wren

As Susan was walking down the trail she thinks she must have stepped on a branch near the edge of the net lane which caused a sharp snap. Moments later she began to hear a very loud buzzing and was greeted by many Bumble Bees!

Seems they have taken residence in the pile of dried Ceaser Weed stalks and burrowed out a hole within.

Bumble Bee

Tread lightly!

Next Banding Day: Sunday, November 29th.

We will open nets by 6:30 A.M.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A New Species for the Banding Site

Not an uncommon species at all around here, but we did catch a new bird for this banding site. More on that shortly. We did capture a few more locals and Winter visitors early on which appears to be the trend this month. We catch most birds in the first hour and then dig in to habitat cleaning.

We got one recapture Carolina Wren and a new addition to the growing list of the local families. Collect them all!

Carolina Wren

There was also a new Hermit Thrush for the season.

Hermit Thrush

At one point we did get two female Ruby-crowned Kinglets down the end of the net lanes.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The Bird-of-the-Day, however, was the very first bird netted. Right at dawn there was a very loud, squawking bird in the tangerine tree. Moments later, this bird flew into net 13 right behind a waiting Andrew.

Our very first Northern Mockingbird captured at Lake Lotus!

Northern Mockingbird

Though a very common bird, Northern Mockingbirds are seldom seen around the river and it was very exciting to capture and band this bird today.

Now if we can get a more consistent day of captures beyond 7:30 AM...

Next Banding Day: Sunday, November 22th.

We will open nets by 6:25 A.M.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More of the Same

Another morning with a good start and then quickly retreating into quiet. Interestingly, we recaptured 2 of the three Hermit Thrushes we banded last week. Can't recall this happening before.

Here, the crew starts processing the first captures of the day.


Many of us are big fans of the Brown Thrasher. We caught 2 today.

Brown Thrasher

Also snagged another House Wren.

House Wren

Susan got a nice shot of a White Peacock butterfly this morning. They are very common around the end of the net lanes.

White Peacock

However, the most interesting bird today was this Ruby-crowned Kinglet that we recaptures from last year.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We ID'd this bird as a female last year based on plumage but here it shows and distinctive orange crest! Further reading shows that some females do, indeed, sport a few orange feathers from time to time. It will go on the list as a female for now.

Very curious. None of us has ever found a Kinglet with orange feathers before.

Storm Ida clears through this week and should usher in a new cold front. What shall we find next Sunday?
Next Banding Day: Sunday, November 15th.

We will open nets by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hermit Thrushes Return

The morning was looking very promising for bird captures as calls were being heard as soon as we got outside at 5 AM. The dawn chorus was very strong with birds calling on both sides of the river nearly non-stop. Even our first run at 6 AM was good with 5 birds netted.

Then, right after 7AM, all activity halted. Maybe the encroaching cold front played a part as clouds slid in overhead. We caught no birds after 7:30. There was a Cooper's Hawk gliding past the net lanes but other than that no visible signs of predators. The birds just disappeared.

The day was not a total loss. We did band 3 Hermit Thrushes. Last year we did not get a Hermit Thrush until the first week of December.

Hermit Thrush

One more, with feeling: "Tail, tail, tail!". More than one of us was thinking Swainson's Thrush in the predawn light until we turned it around. The reddish tail always gives the Hermit away.

Hermit Thrush

Up and down the river was the sound of Eastern Pheobes. This one was teasing us by sitting on the tree about 15 feet from net 3. Never went in the net.

Eastern Pheobe

Red-bellied Woodpeckers made their undulating flights around the area, as always.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Once the place went quiet we settled in to study the other sights of Nature. In one net was a dragonfly, ID'd by friend Paul Hueber as a Blue-faced Darner.

Blue-faced Darner

Not in any net was one of the many White Peacock butterflies.

White Peacock

Along the trail is a nice Common Nightshade plant.

Common Nightshade

A bit further down, the Primrose Willow is still blooming.

Primrose Willow

Always something interesting at Lake Lotus!
Next Banding Day: Sunday, November 8th.

We will open nets by 6:15 A.M.