Sunday, May 2, 2010

CSI: Lake Lotus

The title of this post will be resolved near the end. Interesting day in the long run but nothing too out of the ordinary. Except for the reason for the title. Anyway...!

Not too bad of a start. Birds were calling early, way before dawn. Even Great-crested Flycatchers were calling in the dark and all the way back in Orlando, Blue Jays were calling before 5 AM. Odd. At Lotus, we had a nice moonrise not long after dawn.


We watched a Brown Thrasher escape the nets at 7 AM but managed to capture another later on. A Northern Cardinal was recaptured a bit later. We also got a couple more Gray Catbirds, probably the last of this season.

Gray Catbird

Titmice began calling and moving through the trees. One was captured while another called above wondering what was taking so long for its companion to rejoin the foraging. By the way, Titmice bite REALLY hard.

Tufted Titmouse

Richard did another check of the nest boxes. Though no birds were found nesting this week, we got probably the cutest Flying Squirrel shot ever taken.

Flying Squirrel

As the morning was drawing to a close, Ivana helps Christine extract a Carolina Wren as Andrew heads to the end of the net lanes.

Carolina Wren

Once there, Andrew found another Carolina Wren in the nets to round out the bird captures for the day.

Carolina Wren

This particular Wren thought it was a Bittern for some reason and spent most of its time pointing North.

Carolina Wren

This time of year always provides more than just birds. Maria got a bunch of photos of insects found along the trail. Here, a Gulf Fritillary sips on a flower in the early light.

Gulf Fritillary

Out in the brighter Sun, a dragonfly pauses for a break before chasing more mosquitoes.


Last week we had a bunch of pupa on a Nightshade plant and it took a while to hunt down the species. This week we found the adults which lead to a positive ID. They are Blue-banded Lema Leaf Beetles!

Lema Leaf Beetle

Nearby, another beetle was discovered. This one is a Cottonwood Leaf Beetle.

Cottonwood Leaf Beetle

Then, there was a caterpillar found near the river. Appears to be a Lateral Lined Army Moth (Spodoptera Latifascia).

Lateral Lined Armymoth

On to the CSI explanation. Fair warning, if you are at all squeamish, please read no further. Just know that we will be back out next Sunday around 5:30 AM.

Still here? K.

Recent rains have brought down more trash into the river. The Little Wekiva actually starts way up in Orlando and many water ways drain into this small river that leads to Lake Lotus. Every now and then we get a lot of trash flowing into the river system and a lot of it gets tangled up in the the trees that have fallen across the river. Some as recent at from Tropical Storm Fay just before we began banding here.

Today there was a very large collection of trash noticed down below the banding table.


This fallen tree is actually the bridge that the Black Bears used to cross back and forth from the woods and the park proper. Tempting as it is, though, none of us is willing to walk out and try to clean things up. The water is actually very deep right behind the tree trunk.

Andrew did go down to start pulling some trash out of the water. Tadpoles hugged the shoreline but there was a smell in the air. A dead fish was found but this smell held something else about it.

Eventually, a glance just behind the trash line revealed another source of the odor. A severed limb of a mammal.


Further investigation makes us think that is may have belonged to an otter. Alligators live in the lake but remainders of prey shouldn't end up 'up' river. There are other lakes that lead to the river so who knows where this actually came from.


Info has been sent on to the rangers in case they have more thoughts. A weird end to the day but another proven case that there is always something to discover out here in this small area of a fairly urban area.

Next week may have us discovering more clues about nearly anything.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 9th.

We will open around 6:10 A.M.

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