Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mixed Bag

NEXRAD showed a lot of movement. Must have been all of the high canopy birds as we saw a ton of birds up in the treetops but didn't have a lot of low flying birds today. Looking back on the archives, however, 4 birds caught today are not unusual.

We did get a recaptured Brown Thrasher but the most fun was a new Tufted Titmouse down near the pier.

Tufted Titmouse

We also caught another Wintering Catbird today. Only spot we have recaptured Catbirds over all of these years.

Gray Catbird

One of the more interesting discoveries was that we have a new member of the family around. We knew there was a new Barred Owl chick across the river and it spent a good part of the morning staring back at us.

Barred Owl

Further observation revealed that there are actually TWO chicks hiding up in that tree.

Barred Owl

Sure to be some busy parents finding food some which will keep us on our toes during the netting efforts.

Meanwhile, insects continue to emerge more than ever. Nice to see some new colors like this Lady Beetle show up when Maria was looking.

Lady Bug

Later, Susan found a Spicebush Swallowtail resting along the trail. Many butterflies are flying now that the weather has taken a warmer turn.


Finally, the crew found a cocoon along the trail and brought it back to the banding table. We will watch it it for the insect to emerge later.


Birds are moving back North. Hope to get more for banding next week.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 4th.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Raptors About

An approaching front had us hoping birds were being pushed more our way during the start of Spring migration. Alas, we believe that the amount of raptors around kept them out of the way if, in fact, they were there. Red-shouldered Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks were seen patrolling the river toward the lake and the owls are finding food for young while Ospreys gather branches for their nests.

We did have a few new visitors to keep us company and a lot of flora to explore along the way so the time passed quickly. After we had a recaptured Catbird we had a Hermit Thrush which young William got to release.

Hermit Thrush

We also recaptured 'our' Bachman's Sparrow for the 4th time. A little later we captured a new adult Carolina Wren which Andrew banded.

Carolina Wren

A beautiful specimen.

Carolina Wren

Richard took the guests around to check nest boxes but all they found was more Flying Squirrels. Here, Bill and son William get a look for themselves.

Flying Squirrel

Next up the ladder was our new guest and potential new volunteer, Yvonne, who seems just a bit thrilled to see these cute, resting squirrels!

Flying Squirrel

Finally, Ivana made her way up for a look.

Flying Squirrel

One of the more exciting finds of the morning was our first glimpse at the baby Barred Owl in the nest across the river. The light was still low but all could see it clearly through binoculars. We brought cameras out later for a shot but the chick had ducked down too much for any photos.

However, the parents are still nearby and at one time were 'talking' to the chick. Maria got the first shot of one adult.

Barred Owl

Then Andrew joined the photography party.

Barred Owl

While walking the net lanes, the crew found an owl pellet.

Barred Owl

A close look revealed the bones of a small rodent.

Barred Owl

Next week we hope to see what the migration brings us. Should be picking up soon.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, March 28th.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

Moving Toward Spring

A couple of sure signs of Spring are showing. Barred Owls are becoming active (reports of a possible chick nearby), Northern Parulas are suddenly singing, and the weather is finally warming.

The big different change this morning was the Little Wekiva River which has risen quite nicely after we just had over 5 inches of rain in the area over the end of last week.


Last year, several of us were jumping from side to side to visit the park proper while waiting for birds to find the nets.


We caught a number of recaptures and some new birds. One of the recaps was this still-wintering Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

We also got a new male Northern Cardinal and a recaptured female but the Brown Thrashers are moving around again and bring more smiles than the Cardinals. Nothing against Cardinals. They just bite harder...

Brown Thrasher

First bird of the day was actually this new House Wren who seems to say, "Let me go, or else!"

House Wren

We continue to note the flowering of local plants and trees. The Cherry Laurels are blooming like mad all over the area and now we have found that the wild cherry trees are also joining in. Along the net lanes, the thistle and Earthsmoke are taking over the ground level from the lake to near the banding table.


The sharp eyes of Christine and Susan located a pair of Black-dotted Brown Moths mating in the leaf litter along the net lanes. An interesting diversion.

Black-dotted Brown Moth

Finally, we recaptured 'our' Bachman's Sparrow we banded a few weeks ago. Seems to enjoy the digs around here.

Bachman's Sparrow

Almost time for local bird babies to emerge and time to check the nets to keep the owls from getting too curious. Wood Ducks are also very active and we hope they find the nest box near the river.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, March 21th.

We will open nets by 7:00 A.M.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A First Myrtle Warbler

Hopefully the last chilly morning of the year. Knock wood.

Last time out we were all discussing where to plant native plants to increase bird fly throughs and the fact that we have never caught a Myrtle Warbler here at Lake Lotus. Can't say that any longer!

Today we captured a beautiful male Myrtle Warbler going into Spring plumage. A very, very welcome sight.

Myrtle Warbler

Most other birds were recaptured Cardinals, Kinglets, a House Wren, and a Hermit Thrush. This Cardinal is one of the earliest birds we captured and he is spectacular.

Northern Cardinal

The female we captured later in the day was one of the first ever recorded at Lake Lotus and they are lovely, as well.

During the morning, Richard and our visitors, Bill and his daughter Grace, checked the nest boxes for signs of activity. No new nesting birds yet but they did discover many other residents. Mostly Flying Squirrels.

Flying Squirrel

Checking another box finds the same species but different numbers...

Flying Squirrel

Here, Christine captured a moment where Bill was taking a turn getting a shot of the squirrels in the box.

Flying Squirrel

Unlike last year, we now have a new plant species covering most of the net lanes. It has been ID'd as 'Earthsmoke'. It covers nearly every available spot. Maybe our clearing of invasives has let it establish itself this year. A very pretty flower.

Earth Smoke

The only other difference today was that of the discovery of an Eastern Tent Caterpillar nest by the river. Everyone took good long looks before we ended the day.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

A close up shot reveals the caterpillers moving about in and over the webs.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Spring is definitely in the air. Finally!

Daylight Savings time begins next week. Please note the start time adjusted for the change.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, March 14th.

We will open nets by 6:55 A.M.