Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth Day at Lotus

Be prepared for an extend post. A lot of photos and finds to report!

We were scheduled to provide banding demonstrations at the annual Lake Lotus Earth Day event within the the park again and we had a very interesting day in many ways. We captured the most birds in the 3 years we have participated and found a lot of other interesting things to focus on throughout the day.

Three tables were required this year with our usual banding spot and others for information on what to plant to bring better critters to your yard and to save resources.


Richard got our first bird of the day which was the 2nd bird we banded 3 years ago at the Earth Day event.

Carolina Wren

We later got another Carolina Wren that we banded across the river last year. Here, Susan processed that bird and shared detailed with some of our first visitors of the morning.


Not long after that, Andrew found our first Common Yellowthroat of the year in a net. We did have 2 adult males today, both new to the area.

Common Yellowthroat

Our most exciting bird of the day was this female Downy Woodpecker. This is the second Downy we have banded at Lotus over the years.

Downy Woodpecker

As we carried on with our routine, Gary set up his site across from us. That is a stuffed bear, by the way.


There was a Brown Thrasher feeding in the orange tree nearby and we hoped it would hit the nets and it eventually did. Here, Maria begins to band the bird with a large crowd gathering to witness it.


Andrew explains that the age of Thrashers can be determined by looking at their eyes. Young Thrashers have a murky grey/yellow eye but as they get older they develop and bright yellow iris.


The bright iris can be seen here as Ivana records more information just before the Thrasher is released. Visitors enjoyed seeing some birds up close and got extra information about banding and tracking.


Like any other day, birds begin to settle in to rest for a while after a few hours after dawn. Then, we begin to explore other areas for other things in Nature. As we banded the Thrasher we got a report that there was an alligator mother with at least 9 babies in tow. One by one we headed out to the pier to view it for ourselves.

Sure enough, there was Mom at the edge of the vegetation watching all of us wandering by.


Not too far away, we counted at least 8 but the other could have been hidden from view.


Susan managed to get a great close shot of one gator baby that is missing a left foot.


On the far side of the pier, another gator lurked. It is larger and appears to be a young reptile from last years hatching. It was larger and staying away from the new brood.


Time to check nets again but we noted other birds along the way back such as this Limpkin foraging on the sandbar at the river entrance into the lake.


There was also a Little Blue Heron feeding in the lily pads. This is a young bird that has not molted into the adult plumage yet.

Little Blue

Maria found the Barred Owl that did not call until after 10 AM but was where it is usually seen along the river side.

Barred Owl

We did get another bird. Finally, a Gray Catbird! We have been hearing them all day but this was our only one captured today.

Gray Catbird

Now we get a bit buggy. First up, an inch worm was discovered. To prove the point, we set out the ruler. Yep, measures an inch!

Inch Worm

We came across a number of other insects all day. Still trying to figure out what they really are. If you have any clues, please feel free to add to the discussion. Especially something like this. These were found on a stalk of Common Nightshade plant. Maybe a Skipper larvae?


Most abundant were these caterpillars. Found mostly on Elderberry leaves, they varied in color (greenish to gray) but also curled up into snake-like positions under leaves.


More blurry but worth investigating, an orange and black caterpillar was also nearby.


Back in the woods we found a nice grouping of leaf hoppers congregating near the nets, unnoticed earlier in the day.


As the day wore on, the gang found an Eyed Click Beetle along the boardwalk. This was brought back to the table and shared with many visitors. Last year we found another one just about the same time of day.


As we were winding down Richard found an interesting couple. Seems that a wasp was trying to carry off a caterpillar but ended up in a net. The wasp already had done some damage to the caterpillar before getting caught in the net. Interesting, though.


Whew! A nice long day full of birds and other wildlife. Great to be out and share the joy of birds and science with the visitors.

Heading into bird fledging time. Wonder who we will find next Sunday.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 2nd.

We will open around 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Busy but No Big Surprises

Last week we had a ton of photos but fewer birds. This week we switch it up an you. More birds but fewer photos. We were busy! Seemed like a day at the old Wekiwa Springs trail where we picked up at least one bird every trip down the lanes.

We captured a lot of adult Catbirds heading home, a new Brown Thrasher, a Blue Jay recaptured after being banded a year and a half ago, a new Carolina Wren, a recaptured House Wren, some recaptured Titmice, and the biggest surprise was a recaptured Hermit Thrush. Thought they would have flown home a while ago!

We figured you all know what those birds look like so we weren't focused on focusing. Forgive us this week. Susan did photograph one of the interesting bits of fauna, however. With all of the oaks blooming and sprouting out, many Tussock moths were seen in the area.

Tussock Moth

Meanwhile, back at Maria's house, Carolina Wrens have made a home and deposited a few eggs.

Carolina Wren

Nearby, Mourning Dove chicks are trying to force out some feathers.

Mourning Dove

New Life all over the place. Definitely Spring.

Next week is the Earth Day event in the park proper. See below for more info!
Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 25th.

We will open around 6:30 A.M. but the event does not begin officially until 10:00 A.M.

However, there is an early event scheduled for bird watching which begins at 7:30 A.M. See this link for more information.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Day of Flora

Should have been a bit busier but birds go where birds wanna go. Barred Owls are still calling and there has been a sighting of one of the chicks out of the nest already.

We did catch a new Brown Thrasher and Carolina Wren. Recaptures included some Northern Cardinals. This female decided to do a little break dancing.

Northern Cardinal

Overhead, a male looks down on the proceedings.

Northern Cardinal

Our other recap was a House Wren with a overlapped bill.

House Wren

Time to check the nest boxes and, as usual, nothing but Flying Squirrels.

Flying Squirrel

It was a beautiful morning and the flora and fauna added to our walks. One of the more interesting views are seeing all of the webs all over the place. They are made by the Bowl and Doily Spider (Frontinella communis).


Even more attractive with a field of flowers behind them.


Hovering over them you can get the light to flash rainbows across the surface.


Out on the trail their is a palm frond with what appears to be some insect creating all kinds of tunnels.


Across the path is a large amount of thistle along the river bank.


The big colony is no where in sight but there are a few Bumble Bees around the flowers.

Bumble Bee

Outnumbering the Bumbles are the Honey Bees.

Honey Bee

They really like the patches of Spider Wort.

Honey Bee

There are also a lot of dragonflies near the end of the net lanes. Many species were seen including this Pin-tailed Pondhawk resting on the Earthsmoke flowers.


Here, a Blue Dasher basks in the Sun.


The most common dragons are the Eastern Pondhawks.


Should be seeing plenty more life next time out!
Next Banding Day: Sunday, April 18th.

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