Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Migrants, Other Fauna and Flora

Not too uncomfortable a day. Birds were still pretty scarce but we did end up with 2 migrants and enjoyed the great outdoors, as always.

2nd bird of the morning was our 2nd Louisiana Waterthrush of the season! Last season we had only a Northern Waterthrush. Maybe August is the Louisiana Waterthrush time to pass through? More years of observations should help figure this out.

Louisiana Waterthrush

We also captured more Carolina Wrens. Nothing new but one of the birds was new so we are rounding them all up one by one.

Carolina Wren

Always fun to watch their fixation on certain points as you hold them. The body moves but the head stays at the same point in space.

Carolina Wren

Another young Cardinal joined the ranks of the banded local birds.

Northern Cardinal

Our next migrant was a new bird for us at this site. A Red-eyed Vireo!

Red-Eyed Vireo

Now that we are seeing birds that have been traveling we can start checking for fat deposits on the bird's body. This shot shows that there is the yellowish fat under the feathers.

Red-Eyed Vireo

As we were closing up for the day Maria let out a short yelp of surprise. Seems a visitor was waiting inside the net poles and hopped out as she separated them. It was a very agile treefrog which changed colors as it landed on the grey-brown oak branches.

Another Cuban treefrog?


We observed many other sights as we ended our day such as the now blooming Scarlet Mourning Glory.

Scarlet Mourning Glory

Right next to that plant was one of many groupings of a plant of the Old World tropics: Wild Balsam Apple.

Wild Balsam Apple

There are also numerous Sensitive Briar plants as we head toward the exit. Their leaves fold up if touched and the flowers are a delicate marvel.

Sensitive Briar

We were most excited, though, by this discovery. Susan did some quick research a short time after we left and decided on the Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. It is also called the Eyed Tiger Moth.

Leopard Moth

This is the first caterpillar we have found actually feeding on Air Potato, one of our nemesis plant species! At least someone is helping us get rid of this plant.

Leopard Moth

Almost time for Buntings!

Next Banding Day: Sunday, September 6th.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Things Aren't Always Black and White

Thankfully, the skies cleared in time to allow another day in the outdoors. However, most of the birds seen were feeding high in the treetops or soaring by heading South. Barn Swallows were seen all morning.

We did get a new migrant along with more Carolina Wrens. Black and White Warblers are fun to watch as they feed in every known angle along tree limbs and more amazing to see up close.

Black and White Warbler

Even though they are just black and white the plumage is a sight to behold.

Black and White Warbler

Maria was back with her camera and found some interesting fauna to chronicle. Like this Gulf Fritillary.

Gulf Fritillary

There was a very large moth caught in net 13. It was about the size of a Hummingbird and Andrew was able to extract it just as if it was a small bird and release it unharmed. Cameras were not on hand. However, Maria did get a shot of a Dragonfly which got caught later on.


Various plants are still flowering but none more beautiful than this pea variety blooming in many spots along the net lanes.


Hoping the birds decide to stray a bit lower next week.

Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 30th.

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Migrant, Another Sauna

Find a sauna room and crank up the heat then pour the water on the hot stones. Bring in some local plants and insects. Every now and then, toss in a small bird. That is what it felt like this morning, dripping with sweat from 6 AM onward until an occasional breeze would cool things down.

We have 2 new nets this season thanks to the Lake Lotus park rangers plowing through the side of the regular net lane. This area is close to the lake and runs through some nice vegetation. We have high hopes for this area, especially once the buntings and sparrows arrive.

Net 17

So far, this seems to be already paying off. We recaptured a female Northern Cardinal plus our second migrant, an Ovenbird in this very area!


Not the earliest Ovenbird ever caught in the Wekiva Basin but nice to see in mid-August. Lets us know migration is really on. Here, Andrew places the band on our new capture.


Susan shares a laugh while recording the banding data.


A bigger surprise was a bird captured near the end of the day. A Mourning Dove!

Mourning Dove

While not rare by any means, Mourning Doves seldom venture down into the nets. We usually hear and see them high overhead calling to one another. Here is a close-up. Unfortunately, our proper band sizes for this bird were not on hand so we released her after making some data recordings.

Mourning Dove

We also captured a couple Carolina Wrens, our most common captures lately.

Carolina Wren

Maria returned to the site today and brought her toy. A new digital camera. She spent a lot of time taking photos around the net lanes. Here, a bee inspects a Spanish Needle flower.


Somehow, a skull bird pelvis ended up along the net lane. It appears to be the skull of a catfish. Perhaps some bird fed on it and dropped the remains. If someone thinks it is not a catfish skull, please let us know.

Thanks to friend Mary for letting us know that it is a bird pelvis. I think it is still along the net lanes so we will try to measure it next time and try to figure out what type of bird it came from. Would have to be big. Maybe duck? We shall see.


Every now and then we capture things in the nets besides birds. Last week it was a large black beetle (no cameras were on hand) but we more often get Dragonflies. When possible, we untangle them and release them back into the air.

Dragon Fly

This area was used as a dumping ground for decades before being fenced off and interesting items are continually found week by week. More disturbing is the presence of what is covering this tire. Invasive Skunk Vine.


We are continuously attempting to remove invasives when time permits to aid the park rangers who do the same thing on the other side of the river.

We will have to wait and see if the developing storms wash us out next week. If not, the next session info is listed below.

Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 23th.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The 2009-2010 Season Begins!

Time to get back to business!

Things were rather quiet. Even the dawn chorus was subdued. Did hear one of the Barred Owls calling out near the lake but not until dawn proper. The usually boisterous Carolina Wrens and Cardinals were also oddly quiet.

However, we did capture a new and recaptured Wren and a young Cardinal by the end of the day.

The main focus was on new migrants and we did catch one!

All the way down at Net 10, Charles got a Louisiana Waterthrush! He also reported that there was a second nearby by but it avoided the nets.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Here is another angle.

Louisiana Waterthrush

That was satisfying enough for our first, and rather hot and humid, day back at the banding site.

A plus was this new caterpillar found under the tarp where Carpenter Ants has set up home.


Anyone know what the heck it is? My searches have revealed nothing.

NOTE: Friend Randy Snyder IDs the caterpillar as a Virginia Tiger Moth. Excellent!

Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 16th.

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