Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wrapping Up our Second Session

Well, the heat was down but it is almost preferred than having soaked feet beginning before dawn. It rained heavily throughout the area most of the night but cleared for our latest banding attempt. Once the Sun came up the grasses all looked like this.

Wet Grass

Trees were dripping all morning. When the squirrels weren't causing small rain showers as they ran through the oaks we could still find some pretty views.


With all the extra water the river was up again. However, it is now a lovely color of chocolate milk!


Talked to rangers Frank and Gary and they say there is construction a bit up river but the silt is still flowing around the barriers. Must be Oompa Loompa Union 48...

Looking up river near the banding table, you can see that the silt is to blame as the water coming from Bosse Lake is as clear as ever as it reaches the Little Wekiva.


Birds were few and far between. Figure they are avoiding the extra wet conditions plus there are not as many insects out for the same reason. We did recapture a Blue Jay early on. The only other bird banded today was a adult male Mourning Dove.

Blue Jay

As such, we continued some maintenance and made more discoveries. Like this probable last bloom of the Button Bush.

Button Bush

As that shot was being taken we noticed a Tiger Moth keeping dry.

Tiger Moth

The dragonflies were out hunting and besides our typical pondhawks there was a nice species we believe to be a Great Blue Skimmer.


The Elderberry plants have been spreading more and more as we remove the other, invasive species. This year is a bumper crop of berries already and the blooms are still going strong. Lots of food for Fall migration.


Other berries were found along the trail. Most likely, they belong to a Smilax laurifolia, or Greenbriar.


Close by, a lone yellow flower, a Chapman's Pea (Chapmannia floridiana), brightens the shaded greens.


Next to net 5 there were a bunch of tiny mushrooms sprouting up from the decaying leaves...


...while overhead the sun paints rainbows on the spider webs.

Web Bow

Lastly, we did have another bird sighting. A beautiful Green Heron was hunting along the edge of the muddy river. Always a joy to watch.

Green Heron

As the title of this post alludes to, this week wraps up our second full session of banding at Lake Lotus. We will take a 6 week break before beginning banding again in early August. We will return from time to time to keep the net lanes clear but other than that we will get some rest and avoid the heat for a while.

There may be a couple of posts along the way focusing on highlights from the past session. Stay tuned!
Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 8th.

All nets will be opened around 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Cardinal Babies

Expectations were downgraded as this high sits on top of us, bringing unseasonably hot weather and not much is moving through the state. It is also fledging time so birds here are busy feeding their young and are otherwise not as active.

So, Andrew brought his axe to remove some of the larger invasive trees while we waited to see what the day would bring. Luckily, we did catch 6 birds today starting with this Brown Thrasher right around sunup.

Brown Thrasher

Right after that we got our first young Cardinal of the morning.

Northern Cardinal

We followed up that bird with the next Brown Thrasher of the day.

Brown Thrasher

This time of year we usually catch a lot of Carolina Wrens but this year they are avoiding the nets. We hear them all over the place but it took a few hours before we even got one and that was a recaptured adult. So, we go back to Cardinals! Maria and Ivana had to wrangle a rather feisty male recapture that showed how strong a bite can be.

Northern Cardinal

Charles found a more calm Cardinal soon afterward. Fortunately, the young ones don't know how to bite so hard yet.

Northern Cardinal

That wraps up the birds for today. On to the plants and wildlife! Near Net 3 Maria found a bunch of leftover egg shells. Probably turtle.


Lurking around the path between Nets 4 and 5 was a beautiful Argiope (Black and Yellow Garden Spider) displaying its intricate web structure.


Here is another round of "Where is the Toad?". Can you see it? Many small toads were hopping toward the river across our net lanes.


Along the river, the ever-present Dragonflies hunt for a meal.


Back at the table, we found an underwing moth hiding in the vegetation. Wish we had a better photo but it moved far too quickly for a great shot.


Nearby, the Swamp Lilies are back in bloom. This is the only bunch of this species we find along the banks.

Swamp Lily

The Beauty Berry plants are blooming and generating new fruit for the upcoming migration season. Mockingbirds, Catbirds, and other birds enjoy the berries and the insects that hang around them in the Fall.

Beauty Berry

Tread Softly plants are blooming most of the year. Their name comes from the fact that the plant is studded with sharp spines along its length.

Tread Softly

Near Net 2, a Wild Potato Vine shows off its gorgeous flowers.

Wild Potato Vine

Finally, we observed the abundant fruits of the many wild Black Cherry trees along the river. More food for the upcoming migration season!

Black Cherry

More discoveries as Summer gets closer. Been here for several weeks here. Whew! Hot...
Next Banding Day: Sunday, June 20th.

All nets will be opened around 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mainly Babies

That time of year again. Finally.

Last year we were catching a lot of Carolina Wren chicks. Not yet this year but the Cardinals seem to be doing well. First bird of the day was a young male banded by Maria.

Northern Cardinal

Speaking of Carolina Wrens, we did catch an older bird which appears to be a new adult but was probably born here last year. Guess we missed one.

Carolina Wren

Many other birds are caring for their young. Like this pair of Downy Woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker

Of course, we still have to keep an eye out for the Barred Owls. The young were calling before dawn and then we started to see the hunting adults later on.

Barred Owl

This bird flew down to a spot on the river for a closer look at something along the banks and eventually grabbed its prey and flew off.

Barred Owl

On 'our' side of the river just opposite the owl was a run of flowers we have determined to be cut-leaf Evening Primrose. They ranged from a mixed orange...

Flower a pure yellow. Pretty!


For a total tangent, Maria discovered a small toad.


The Cicadas were telling us it was about time to head home and as we were folding nets we heard a loud ruckus near Net 11. Just across the river, woodpeckers, Jays, Titmice and a Red-shouldered Hawk looked toward the commotion occurring near the Elderberry.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The reason for all the attention was the fact that we captured two birds at the same time. A Cardinal and our first Red-bellied Woodpecker for this site. In fact, the reason this net was placed where it is is due to the Elderberry plants and knowing that Red-bellied woodpeckers eat the fruits of this plant. Only took them a year to start with this bunch!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Back at the banding table, we got to the Cardinal first. It seems our new little boy has a bit of a problem with his bill. Hopefully we can monitor it as he ages.

Northern Cardinal

Still, he is a handsome addition to the neighborhood.

Northern Cardinal

On to our newest species. Andrew adds the band to our first Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Then the bird gives us the raspberry! Such a pointed tongue it useful for prying out grubs and other insects from tree trunks.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The feathers are always a joy to behold when seen spread out. So often they are seen just edging around trees.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The day was ended. Whew! Interesting. New birds and a lot of invasives removed along the way. During the day and on the way out we noticed the the cold Winter may have help some of the local plants. For instance, the Muscadine Grapes bloomed like mad this Spring and the fruits are really filling out right now. Good food for the upcoming migration.


The last find of the day was a grouping of these small purple flowers. Fairly sure they are Blue Twinflower. There are a few in one spot near the fence. A lot of interesting plants right there.


Back into the heat next weekend! Maybe some new Wrens are ready to head out...
Next Banding Day: Sunday, June 13th.

All nets will be opened around 6:00 A.M.