You can tell it is going to be an interesting day when the first thing you catch is a Flying Squirrel!
That is what Maria found when she opened Net number 3 this morning. A squirrel jumped into the net as she was opening it up. It was confused for a bit and them tumbled from panel to panel and then eventually made it back to the ground and headed back to the nest box in the tree where it was probably sleeping in the first place.
Better than caffeine! Andrew got such a jolt last year in the dark as another one jumped into a net before dawn.
Bird chatter was extra loud as it was last week long before dawn but subsided not long after the Sun rose. We still recaptured a Carolina Wren and caught a very young Brown Trasher probably just out of the nest. We were studying it so much that we neglected to get photo but it was the youngest on record for us.
As Andrew returned the Thrasher to the possible nesting area, he noticed a large parcel in the net nearby. A Barred Owl!
Fortunately, we keep a pair of thick gloves at the banding table and Andrew volunteered to give the extraction a try. The results were happy.
Once back at the table, Richard applied the band. We believe this is the eldest of the two chicks hatched this year.
We returned to the area where the owls hang out and released it toward the nest tree. The owl flew into the tree overhanging the river and shook off the incident.
That done, we got back to busy work around the area removing Camphor trees and exploring the flora and fauna. The Painted Leaf plants are really taking off!
The Leather Flowers are finally coming into bloom along the trails and by the outer fencing.
Nearby, the Sensitive Briar plants are spreading out and showing their brilliant, delicate pink flowers.
Visiting the flowers are some butterflies, of course. Mainly smaller versions like this Common/White Checkered Skipper.
Adding more color were many Dainty Sulphurs.
Not year ready to change into an adult, this odd (maybe not well) looking caterpillar was looking for food in the bushes.
On another plant, something seems to be getting ready, itself. Probably a Bagworm Moth (Thanks, as always, Randy and Mary for insect help!) .
Resting on a stem was some sort of Scarab Beetle that caught our attention.
Here is a closer view which really shows the reddish-brown and gold markings.
Our final bug was actually rescued from a net and sat on our hands for a while for some shots. We ID it as an Indiana River Cruiser. New to us.
Those eyes were hypnotic!
But wait! We are here for birds and we did get yet another interesting one as the day was winding down. An American Redstart. We usually see many during the season but this one is a little late. Plus, it had a new plumage variation for us. It might appear to be a female. However, note the black feathers around the face and scattered elsewhere.
It is actually a First-Spring male. Later, it will acquire the familiar black and orange when it becomes an adult.
Finally, we got one last unexpected bird as we gathered the nets. Mourning Doves hang around but rarely get captured. They seem to have a good sense of the nets and will fly around them even when flushed when they are right next to them.
What makes this one interesting is that it is a young bird.
You call tell this by examining the feathers which are edged with light tan instead of the smooth blends of adults.
Whew! Many events unfolded that we never would have guessed as we rolled out in the pre-dawn hours. Maybe next week will bring more surprises. Here's hoping.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, May 23th.
All nets will be opened around 6:00 A.M.