Sunday, April 26, 2009

Earth Day

We banded on the park side of the river for the annual Earth Day event held at Lake Lotus. Andrew spent most of Saturday hauling poles and rebar and nets from 'our' side, transporting the gear by wading through the swallow water. Net positions were set based primarily on where we set up last year and then trying a couple new spots.

Sunday morning, Andrew and Susan crossed the river in the dark before dawn and opened the nets and secured the poles with tie lines. Other gear was stowed near the parking lot and other vendors arrived well afterward.

As for the birds, the first caught in the morning was a Carolina Wren. It was a recaptured bird with the last numbers being 261. This is the first bird we caught here at last year's Earth Day!

Later in the day, number 262 was captured. These birds have not been caught on the other side of the river suggesting that all of our other birds stay there and this family stays right here. Nice data.

Carolina Wren

As we were processing the first Wren we could see that a Brown Thrasher was waiting in the net behind the banding table.

Brown Thrasher

A Northern Cardinal was captured as well as some Gray Catbirds. However, the most exciting bird was one we did not band. A shadow passed overhead and Susan relocated the bird. Can you guess this Life Bird for Susan?

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The bird flew through the treetops for a while searching for and eating bugs.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

It eventually flew to the west, not to be seen again for the rest of the day. An excellent sighting.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

As the winds increased through the morning the birds stayed put giving us time to explore a bit. Susan found a great bug in a net. An Eastern Eyed Click Beetle.

Eastern Eyed Click Beetle

Susan also noted some skippers feeding at the Spanish Nettles so some photos were taken for later ID. Turned out to be a Horace's Duskywing Skipper.

Horace's Duskywing Skipper

We had some good conversations with park visitors and collected some nice information through the day. The only down side was knowing we still had to haul everything BACK across the river to set up for next weekend in our usual spot. A few hours later, everything was back in place, hopefully even in better shape than before.

Migration is winding down but there are always surprises out there.

Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 3rd.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19th, 2009

Wow, what an interesting day! We arrived early to try an get some exiting migrants but that really didn't help things too much. We still ended up with 10 birds (better than the recent averages of 2-5) and snared some good birds with some other fun bird watching to round things out.

Northern Parulas were calling early along with the Chuck's Wills Widows and soon the Barred Owls chimed in before dawn. Even the Great-crested Flycatchers were singing early. Cardinals and Carolina Wrens joined in on the dawn chorus and we waited for results.

The first catches were predictable. Gray Catbirds. One has now been caught, banded, and recaptured 3 times in as many weeks. This species is all over the property right now. Seen across the river and in the net areas with regularity.

We did have a rather nice early result that prompted Richard to want a photograph. 3 birds at one time, the first time this has happened in quite a while. Susan, Maria, and Andrew all celebrated.


As stated before, Catbirds were not a surprise today but the Ovenbirds were. Nice to see in the Spring. Previously at Wekiva State Park Ovenbirds ended up being regular visitors to specific nets. Will be interesting to see if we get similar results here.


Another Brown Thrasher finally found a net. They have been calling in the mornings and it is always a thrill to hold and band one.

Brown Thrasher

Andrew heard a rasping sound in the woods and ran back for the camera. Good thing. We now have baby owl sightings!

Barred Owl

Baby was way up in the trees early in the morning so the images are not great but good enough to make the ID and stir awe.

Barred Owl

Why was baby rasping? Because it was awaiting a good breakfast. Like the new mouse kill this parent was bringing in.

Barred Owl

Out in the trees we found an old nest box, apparently set up by the park employees at some point. More investigation is needed but we figure there will be no new residents for this house.

Nest Box

Meanwhile, more birds were being captured. Like this Common Yellowthroat that Richard had a chance to band. Plus, Maria gets her first photo credit.

Common Yellowthroat

This day actually felt like it used to in the past where we were busy really banding birds. Go figure. That IS why we are here, after all.


Everyone wanted to see the owls so we trekked back into the trees to find them again. Do we need to remind you that we live near Disney? Everything is robotic, right?

Barred Owl

Or we could just fix the reflections...

Barred Owl

A Limpkin was calling across the lake. A quick scan near the pier revealed a sunning alligator. Over half a dozen were seen cruising the lake's edges.


No Coral Snake today but we did get a nice Leaf-footed Bug in the plants.

Leaf-legged Bug

To end the morning we got the Bird-of-the-Day. A Painted Bunting. Always a joy.

Painted Bunting

Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 26th.

This is the Lake Lotus Earth Day event so we will be doing a banding demonstration for the park IN the park.

We will open nets around 6:25 A.M. but the event starts officially at 10 A.M. We will be to the right of the tram drop off just before the boardwalk. See you there!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009

Another noisy start and another mediocre catch today. At least the migrants are still around. All we banded today was a few Gray Catbirds. We spent the majority of the morning bird watching instead, which isn't a horrible way to spend a few hours of the day.

Highlights of the watching were: Worm-eating Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Tutfted Titmouse, Chimney Swift, Cedar Waxwing, Indigo Bunting, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo. Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Susan also had the best find: a Coral Snake. Time to watch our steps.

Didn't take any pictures until the end of the morning. While closing up nets, we spotted a Barred Owl right next to net #8. Earlier, a clump of feathers was found here. Wonder if the owl got something from our net for a snack?

If so, it only gave me a wink.

Barred Owl

The owl was trying to rest so picture taking was brief but how can you resist a little photo shoot with a close, willing subject?

Barred Owl

Sleepy time.

Barred Owl

Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 19th.
We will open nets around 6:25 A.M.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 5th, 2009

Spring Migration is on and so are changes in the landscape around the unused property of Lake Lotus. A chilly start to the morning lead to a perfect day and we ended up with 6 birds to process and one that got away.

Most of our birds were migrants but we finally recaptured a Carolina Wren after several months of them staying back in the woods. Andrew was trying to get a shot of the reported new baby Barred Owl when Sasha, a welcome visitor, spotted the Carolina Wren in the net and set about removing it.


A happy sight in the back row of bushes near the river: a Prairie Warbler. A clear sign of Spring.

Prairie Warbler

Richard took a break from hacking down oaks in hopes of revealing more under story to check the nest boxes.


Later on, Sasha found a Gray Catbird waiting patiently in a net near the end of the trail.

Gray Catbird

Back at the banding table, Andrew digs into the tools to band the new bird.

Gray Catbird

Then one more photo for the website.

Gray Catbird

Near the end of the morning we captured a House Wren. Not unlike the one that escaped at 7 AM!

House Wren

So, things are looking more lively, flowers are blooming, and we have more to research.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 12th.
We will open nets around 6:30 A.M.