Sunday, May 31, 2009

Carolina Wren Bonanza

Dawn brought about a very clear realization. The Orlando Magic are in the NBA Finals! Magic 103. Cavs 90. Bring on Kobe!


Then..., wait. This is a birding blog. I got distracted. OK. Oh, alright.

The river was lower this week despite even more rain near the end of last week which let us open all nets and see what might be around. The humidity was still way up and provided some nice views of the river giving up heat and causing steam to rise from the Little Wekiva most of the morning and captured by Maria during the session.

Little Wekiva

The heavy rains have spawned a lot of new growth. Most have been the alarming return of thousands of Air Potatoes but also some interesting fungus growths on the trunks of fallen trees.


Bird-wise, it was a banner day for Carolina Wrens. We did catch a few adults, some recaptures, and it was encouraging to see Net 3 getting some action. We caught 2 adult Wrens in that net today, including this one.

Carolina Wren

Primarily, we captured a slew of young Wrens, such as this bird, and most of them were down near the lake and were getting in the nets all at the same time. We also had a recapture of a young bird near the banding table where it was caught a few weeks ago.

Carolina Wren

Breeding seem to be going quite well for the Carolina Wrens! Nice data!

We also had a new volunteer joining us, Alicia, who was not too put off by one of our other pastimes. Plucking the Air Potato vines from the area. While doing this, Alicia found a great skeleton of a Raccoon just near Net 2.


Here is a close-up of the head.


As the day wore on (the Barred Owls were about but cleared off fairly early) we explored the insects, including the ever-present Horace's Duskywings.

Horace's Duskywing

Other plants are springing up and we will explore them next week and see how many new birds we can band. Looking like more Wrens and hoping to get a few of the Great-crested Flycatchers or Pileated Woodpeckers teasing us at the moment.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, June 7th.

We will open nets around 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The River Returns. Owls Remain on the Hunt.

Over 10 inches have fallen since our last banding session 2 weeks ago and the Little Wekiva River once more looks like a river.

Little Wekiva

It was nice to see all of that water flowing toward Lake Lotus again. Drought numbers have disappeared with arrival of the deluge.

Little Wekiva

However, even in the pre-dawn darkness, it was clearly revealed by head-lamps that we wouldn't be able to set up all of the nets. Net 10 was completely flooded near the pier. Net 13 wasn't much better.

Little Wekiva

Hard to believe that Susan and Andrew crossed this very point a month ago setting up for Earth Day with water barely to their ankles. It now runs several feet deep.

Little Wekiva

Still, most nets were raised and we caught a number of Cardinals. Most were recaptures but we did get a new one today. He was so feisty that he needed a better grip to avoid us getting bitten.

Northern Cardinal

Our last bird of the day was another new bird. A Blue Jay. Though Jays are almost always heard along the trail, they usually stay near the lake and away from the nets.

Blue Jay

As the Jay and a couple Cardinals were being collected from the nets, the commotion drew the attention of a familiar resident. This Barred Owl flew to a branch directly over the Cardinals which were waiting in bags hung on a net pole to be returned to the table.

Barred Owl

While we waited to see if the owls would move back into the woods we did a little flower watching. One of the finds were numerous Pokeberry bushes now in bloom.


Blooming through out the area are the Elderberry plants. Parts have formed fruit while most are still brightening up the green with their brilliant white flowers.


Painted Leaf plants are found all over the Lake Lotus property and always bring a smile.

Painted Leaf

Under the abandoned feeder experiment, Sunflowers are just now about to open up.


While just off the beaten path a single Rattlebox bloom shines in the shade.


Meanwhile, the owls were still present. The wet baby was constantly begging for more food.

Barred Owl

With that in mind, we closed up a little early leaving a parent owl to guard the area for another week.

Barred Owl

As we left we checked on the Leather Flower from 2 weeks ago. It now has gone to seed and looks a lot like a Brittle Star. We found this seed head last year but did not know what it was. Mystery solved!

Leather Flower

It was an eventful, if soggy, day despite being run out by hungry owls.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 31st.

We will open nets around 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last of the Spring Migrants?

Interesting morning with a nice flurry of activity not long after sunrise. Even better when you have visitors to participate.

Our first bird was our first baby to be banded this year. A Carolina Wren. Note the fresh feathers on the nape and wings and the pin feathers on the crown. We captured Momma a few minutes later.

Carolina Wren

Our thoughts were that the next bird would be the Bird-of-the-Day: an American Redstart! We banded two males today.

American Redstart

Later, David helps Richard try to read those teeny numbers on a band while David's mom, Kathy, and Susan cheer them on.


The baby Barred Owl was hanging out near the pier all morning and one of the parents eventually flew in to see what all the begging was about.

Barred Owl

Just under where this owl was perched were a couple of Buttonbushes now in full bloom.


Though we have been hearing Northern Parula calling throughout the area since early Spring they usually stay very high up in the canopy. Just after Susan mentioned she wished we could catch one, there you go! One female Parula made a visit. Bird-of-the-Day, number 2.

Northern Parula

Next to the river, many insects were present. Mostly White Peacock butterflies and dragonflies but they were joined by a few Buckeye butterflies this morning.

Buckeye Butterfly

As we were closing up for the day we found Bird-of-the-Day, number 3. A female Black-throated Blue Warbler!

Black-throated Blue Warbler

We headed out for the day but had to make one more stop to find a plant Susan noticed earlier. It turned out to be a Leather Flower blooming next to the trail.

Leather Flower

Always something new once you slow down and take a close look.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 24th.

We will open nets around 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Raptors on the Prowl

Northern Parula, Great-crested Flycatchers, and Chuck Will's Widows all started the daily chorus off before dawn and the Barred Owls joined in later. As the day progressed, all of the other locals joined in but it appears that the raptors are getting very hungry.

Must be a lot of chicks to feed.

We captured a Carolina Wren first off in the morning and later got 4 Northern Cardinals (3 of the Cardinals and the Wren all showed brood patches) and this Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

A bit later in the morning, Sasha arrived with her niece, Becky, in tow. They showed up right as Andrew was scrambling to change lens on his camera to record an unexpected sight.

Barred Owl

Yep. That is a Barred Owl perched on our net pole (Number 11) and it was searching attentively for something to pounce on. It was not too long since the Yellowthroat and a Cardinal were removed from that very net.

Here, Becky, Susan, Charles, and Sasha process our 4th Cardinal of the morning.

Banding Group

A close-up of Charles and the Cardinal.


Near the end of the trail, we found a Skipper. This was helpfully ID'd as a Clouded Skipper by friend and butterfly expert Mary Keim. Thanks, again, Mary!

Clouded Skipper

Also near the end of the trail, a Red-bellied Woodpecker was bringing food to chicks way up in a dead tree.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Back at the beginning of the trail another family is in another dead tree. Here, a parent brings in some type of insect.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Unlike the end nest, this chick comes out for a look.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Not too high above the chick, Andrew spotted a circling Red-tailed Hawk. Looking for an easy meal? Perhaps. Soon afterwards, a Red-shouldered also swung in.

With all of these raptors on the hunt we decided to close the nets a little early as to not provide easier meals for the hunters.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 10th.

We will open nets around 6:10 A.M.