Once you get out into the field you never know what you will find. We had an interesting day all around, even though it was another fairly gloomy and cold morning.
While setting nets, making lots of noise in case the bears were nearby, Andrew discovered some items near nets. Out at Net 17, golden eyes shone in the head lamp from a couple of raccoons digging in the dirt. Turned out they were digging out and eating turtle eggs which Maria photographed later.
As the light was coming up, Andrew also found another item of note. Honeycomb! This was dug out of a spot just next to Net 12. Seems the bears are here more often than we thought.
Most of our birds were recaptures, including this female Cardinal which we were wondering if she was about to lay some eggs based upon her body mass.
Here, the crew weighs the Cardinal before we took her out of the bag.
Another recapture was a Carolina Wren. Caught in Net 2 which was surprisingly busy today.
This was the first time Ivana removed a bird from a mist net and she got to release it after we recorded all relevant data.
Also in Net 2 was a recaptured Hermit Thrush.
Ivana also got to release this bird. It really wanted to go one minute but then just settled into her hand for a minute before finally flying off.
It was a really cute moment to behold.
We captured a Catbird along the way. It was a younger bird as demonstrated by the inner lining of the mouth which is a light color until they get older when the roof of the bill becomes all black.
We also tallied a House Wren and few other birds. 3 times the count from previous weeks! That was fun enough. Then Maria had the close encounter of the day.
All of us were away from the banding table (can't recall the last time that happened) and were headed back. Maria was in the lead and she seemed to be removing a bird from Net 3 below the banding table. Turns out that the mother and cub Black Bear had just run straight past her and bounded across the river. Though startled, she proved that she is becoming a real photographer in that she did not let her fear of just being run past by bears to make her forget to grab a quick shot as Mama Bear got across the river.
We had been back and forth the net lanes all morning and even had people up in the woods earlier and none of us heard or saw the bears which were obviously there all along. Kind of scary but an ultimately exciting discovery.
Last bird of the day was our Bachman's Sparrow we banded last week. Here Richard takes down the current data.
To wind up the day, Maria took a shot of the new blooms that have been popping up along the lanes and into the woods. This plant is called Innosence.
We will be even more watchful for bears next time and hope for a sunny day.
NOTE: No banding February 14th. Forecast calls for near freezing temperatures.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, February 21st.
We will open nets by 6:30 A.M.